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Best in North End?

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If you had only one restaurant in which to dine in the North End, which would it be, and why? I am not a huge Italian lover, but I do greatly appreciate really good Italian cooking...can't decide which restaurant to choose during my vacation...Can you help? The priority here is the food....Thanks....

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  1. If I had to pick one, it might be Neptune Oyster, which isn't Italian. Others on my short list for the neighborhood include Prezza (high-end Italian chophouse, great wine list, one of the few serious bars in the neighborhood), Taranta (eclectic Southern Italian with some subtle Peruvian influences in some dishes, excellent seafood), Pizzeria Regina (touristy but forgivable for its extraordinary Neapolitan pizza), Galleria Umberto (a cheap, tasty, and atmospheric Italian-American cafeteria, breakfast/lunch only), the Modern (Italian cookies and pastries), Caffe Vittoria (touristy but fine caffe), and Massimino's (my favorite among the cliched Italian-American red-sauce places for which the neighborhood is best known).

    6 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I vote for Prezza. It may be a chophouse, but even as a vegetarian, I consider it great. Their risotto and polenta dishes are sublime.

      Re: Pizzeria Regina, yes, it's fantastic--the best pizza I've ever had, but is it Neapolitan, Slim? I always considered it NY style. Or do they have both? If so, do you think it's better than Gran Gusto's?

      1. re: pollystyrene

        I hope my use of the term chophouse doesn't come across as pejorative. I mean to say that they have a specialty in wood-fire-grilled steaks and chops, but the pastas are quite fine; I never have a meal here without at least splitting one. And I'd rather have a steak here than at most high-end American steakhouses in town.

        I'd say New York style pizza and Regina's pizza are both derived from Naples. Gran Gusto does a great pie of this type (the simple margherita is my favorite), but it doesn't have the rough charm of the original Regina in terms of atmosphere. (To be fair, the rest of GG's food is pretty good, and Regina does nothing but pizza.)

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Just when I thought I had my pizza classification down, now I'm all confused again! I thought (but I'm not sure why) that NY style was epitomized by Regina's, with thin, crisp crust and regular mozzarella cheese, and that Neapolitan pizza had a thicker, chewier crust, and used fresh mozzarella. Help me straighten myself out because I already get tangled in my own web of gibberish when someone asks me what Greek pizza is. As a semi-self-respecting eater of junk, I must be able to classify at least one type of pizza properly.

          1. re: pollystyrene

            I'm no pizza expert, but I always believed that NY style was originated by Neapolitan ex-pats: the crust should be thin, hand-tossed, and a bit crispy from a fast bake in a very hot oven without the use of a pan. The foldability isn't a function of how the crust is done, but the largeness of the pies and the slices.

            Fresh mozzarella is indeed a hallmark of true Neapolitan pizza. They are pretty fussy in Naples about variations, too, mostly preferring a few very simple sets of toppings (no "loaded" pizzas). You're more likely to see wood-fired brick ovens in Naples, where many NY-style establishments use coal-fired brick ovens. Regina's uses a gas-fired brick oven, I believe.

            So at least as I understand it, NY style has far more in common with Neapolitan style than Greek-American or Sicilian or Chicago-style pizzas.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Harkening back to my Brooklyn upbringing, I would have to agree that New York style pizza was always referred to as Neapolitan as was most of the local Italian reataurant food.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                "The foldability isn't a function of how the crust is done, but the largeness of the pies and slices."

                I would concur with everything you've stated on this post Slim, save this. Equal size slices of plain, for example, from different pizzerias can and do behave very differently when folded. That can only be attributed to the quality of the crust. New Yorkers simply refer to it as the ability to "hold a point" when folded, can and do talk at length about it, and are very critical when a slice fails the point test". I agree with that assesment, BTW.

                Harp

      2. I highly recommend reading bachslunch's report of the North End. One of the best chowhound reports of a neighborhood ever:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/448599

        1 Reply
        1. re: smtucker

          Wow! Thanks for the reference to a great thread! And yes, Neptune Oysters is already near the top of my list....I have already made reservations, not Italian obviously, at Hammerly's Bistro and Oleana, but wanted to do an authentic Italian, because this is something you literally cannot get where I live. Previously, the only wonderful Italian that I have experienced is in Manhattan.....