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Oct 9, 2007 02:01 PM

Italian North End Tonight

I asked the concierge in my hotel for the "best" in the North End. He recommended Mare. After reviewing this board, I'm wondering if I should change the reservation to Galleria Umberto, Giacomo's, Antico Forno, or Pagliuca. I'm looking for Northern Italian with a heavy seafood leaning. Thoughts?

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  1. the team that opened mare has left, and it's no longer as good as it was. giacomo's is quite good, the daily catch and also the original il panino in parmenter street. (same owner as mare, but traditional fare, done very well.)

    3 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Completly agree with Il Panino (their lobster ravioli is incredible) and the Daily Catch.

      1. re: Elyssa

        I'm fine with thirding Daily Catch. But until Il Panino stops refusing to serve patrons tap water on request (their excuse is that they have no ice machine) and stops the subsequent pushy hard sell on bottled water or a more expensive beverage, I'm very reluctant to recommend them to anyone.

        1. re: bachslunch

          Il Panino makes me absolutely crazy over the tap water thing, and I guess that's why I don't recommend them very often. However, in truth, if they have that white lasagna on the menu with the shrimp, corn and potato, I would buy 6 bottles of water!

    2. I have rarely found hotel concierges to be a reliable source of restaurant recommendations. Many of them are on the graft.

      I can't speak to Mare from personal experience, but I've seen recent reports here from former fans that feel it is expensive and has gone downhill since the departure of its opening chef.

      "Northern Italian with heavy seafood leanings" suggests Venetian, Ligurian, and perhaps Romagna cuisine, which the North End is rather short on.

      Italian, Italian fusion, and Italian-America places in the North End that do seafood I like include the Daily Catch (Sicilian, squid specialists), Taranta (broad range of southern Italian cuisines with occasional Peruvian touches, excellent seafood), and Prezza (modern Italian chophouse, fine grilled fish and seafood, good full bar). Neptune Oyster does superb local seafood, but is more French-influenced, not Italian at all.

      I like Antico Forno (wood-oven pizza and baked pastas) and Pagliuca's (classic local Italian-American, think marinara and parmigiana), but their seafood isn't extraordinary. Umberto is only open for lunch. I haven't tried the North End Giacomo's, but I don't like its South End sibling.

      Hope that helps! Beware the concierge!

      3 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Thanks to both of you! I had my doubts but not much time to research. The Mare menu and website did look really good, which is why I was leaning towards seafood, but good food is much more important.

        1. re: Ellen

          MC is right, not a whole lot of Northern Italian w/heavy seafood leaning spots in the North End. Most of the best places (including those recommended to you in this thread, like Antico Forno, Daily Catch, Pagliuca's, Il Panino, Giacomo's) have much more of a Southern Italian leaning..lots of pasta, garlic and red sauce.....They are all worthy, but perhaps not what you're looking for. Galleria Umberto is a classic little joint, but not a "restaurant" per se; you stand in line and then order a slice of pizza or arancini from the guy at the counter. A fun spot but really more of a place to grab a quick snack or lunch (and yes, they're only open from about 11:30 to whenever they run out of food, usually around 1:30ish)

          I think Prezza probably comes closest to what you are looking for; food and service are generally excellent, certainly not cheap but always great energy and good vibe.

        2. re: MC Slim JB

          I have to agree on Mare. A very recent visit was very disappointing.

        3. If you go to Antico Forno, order the seafood (mussels, clams, etc.), in parchment. This dish is heavenly. And it's done in the brick oven!

          1. Giacomo's
            By far the best dining experience ask for Rose she'll take good care of you. When I go to Boston I always have dinner at there. But they don't take reservations.