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First date in the North End

Heading to the North End on Friday for a first date. We are both young professionals in our mid-late 20's. We were set up by a mutal friend, so we're still in the "getting to know each other" phase. Looking for a good first date spot, but nothing TOO romantic. And good italian, obviously.

I've searched the boards a little bit, but wanted some more suggestions.


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  1. Highly recommend La Galleria 33. Not the matchbox seating like some other Northend joints, very good food and a very nice atmosphere/decor. In the "getting to know you phase" it would be a perfect fit. Some other choices are very pricey and very "tight spaced' and a bit heady, which can make for awkward early dating. There's a lot of pressure when the menu prices are high and one or both parties feel guilty about ordering. La Galleria 33 is a perfect fit.

    1. Any idea how adventurous your date is? Any allergies? Regional preferences? I tend to favor Northern and Central Italian over the Southern-inspired Italian-American served at most North End places, but that's hardly everyone's preference.

      1. Ricardo's on North Street is a fairly roomy, comfortable place with good Italian food, and it's rarely crowded, so you probably won't be struggling to hear each other talk. And while it is a little romantic, it's not as cozy and intimate as, say, the basement dining room at Assaggio on Prince Street.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hiddenboston

          Ricardo's isn't a half bad room, but I didn't like the food there.

        2. How about a walk-about first date?
          Start at Neptune Oyster - grab a few oysters at the bar there with a cocktail. Bailout opportunity #1 if it's going poorly.
          Things going well? Walk down to Pizzeria Regina and grab a pie (or a slice? Do they sell slices there? I don't think so....but if they do, all the better.) Or try Monica's on the corner of Prince and Salem. Bailout opportunity #2.
          Conversation still flowing? Go around to Cafe Victtoria or similar for cappucchino, pastries, etc.
          Walking and talking takes a little pressure off, no?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            That's a great idea. Love all the opportunities for bailing, and of course strolling.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Hey Bob,
              That's an excellent itinerary, even if you don't want the bailout option! My wife and I love all 3 of them and together, with a walk, is a perfect date. My preference is pizza at Regina's tiny bar with a glass of cheap red!

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                First rate itinerary, Bob Dob. No slices at the original Regina, so it would have to be a whole pie.

              2. Try Maurizio's. The food is wonderful, it's small and cozy, and the chef/owner is always there. If you can, try to get a reservation as it gets very crowded on the weekends. Our Italian-born friend eats here almost exclusively, and he knows his food.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mcupcake

                  A second vote for Maurizio's or, if you can get the table by the windows upstairs at either Marco or Taranta - which both have great food, it would addd to the first date vibe.

                  1. re: Northender

                    Will second all of Northender's suggestions and toss out a third on Maurizio's. Carmen and Euno would also be good, as balleresq suggested below. Another possibility is Davide, which has warmly evocative basement level digs and good food.

                2. Thanks for all the suggestions thus far. At this point I'm leaning towards Maurizio's, but I've also heard that Carmen and Euno are both good date spots. Any thoughts?

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: balleresq

                    I find Euno to be a pretty romantic place (especially the downstairs room). If you go on a first date, it might be best to get a table upstairs where it's less intimate. :-b

                    Oh, and I thought the food was very good there...

                    1. re: balleresq

                      Carmen's is very romantic. Doesn't really fit your description of a relaxed first date venue.

                      Have you thought of Mama Maria's? I think they are just romantic enough without being over the top uncomfortable.

                      Of course you will then stroll Hanover Street for coffees and gelatos.

                      Best of luck!

                      1. re: kate used to be 50

                        Mama Maria's, really? I'd say it's on the more romantic side. You don't mean Mother Anna's do you?

                          1. re: Joanie

                            Yeah, Mamma Maria is very romantic and expensive--more for an anniversary than a first date.

                            1. re: Joanie

                              I don't think Mama Maria's is overly romantic, but will admit to dining there in large groups so maybe I just don't notice the romance!

                              1. re: kate used to be 50

                                Sorry, Kate, but I have to put the kibosh on the MM rec - That's a really BAD first date spot - sets the bar WAY WAY too high, way too expensive for first date, etc. The first date is essentially a meet-and-greet. Mamma Maria is a formal dining spot that is not appropriate. He will appear to be coming on way way too strong and it could easily contribute to being the first and only date, IMHO.

                                Personally, I would recommend my itinerary above, then for the second date, take her to Santarpio's. (Too informal for first date) - If she digs the barbecue, the extra garlic, the little glasses you get for your Budweiser and the surrounds, she's a keeper. ;)

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                  Well it has been quite a while since I've dated, so maybe I withdraw my recommendation.

                                  Santarpio's is a definite test of character and even if she doesn't enjoy the atmosphere, she'll have a good pie!

                                  Actually now that I think about it, my first date with H was at the Sailloft on Atlantic Avenue. 20 years later we're still going strong. Maybe that should have been my first suggestion!

                                  1. re: kate used to be 50

                                    The Sailloft...Now that's what I'm talkin' about! :D

                        1. All good suggestions. I would add Cafe Paradiso for an after dinner expresso or pastry. I've always found it a comfortable place to linger and hang out. I aso wonder if they're getting their pastries from somewhere else. I had the amaretto cake the other night and it was better than I remember.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Pegmeister

                            They are very friendly there and quick to validate the Parcel 7 parking (so it becomes $1 for 3 hours vs. $16!), however, their (balckberry) gelato last week was the worst I've ever had - threw it away after two bites.

                          2. You've got plenty of good tips here (I agree that Mamma Maria is too much for a first date).

                            I'll throw out another: Grotto, on nearby Beacon Hill. This place has good food at nice prices (no whiff of spendy desperation there), and the atmosphere is funky and cozy enough that it suits a first date without making you look like you're trying to hard. I think the food is really nice, too, rich and decadent for a place whose 3-course prix fixe is like $33.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              I have to agree that Grotto is absolutely a great first date kind of place. Wish I had thought of it. I love that they decanter the wine when you buy a bottle. Thefood, especially the short ribs is quite good. You're also close enough to walk to the North End for a cannolli.

                            2. I lived in the North End on Hanover St for about two years and love food! ha ha...here's where I would go...
                              Either Maurizo's on Hanover, I have never had a bad meal there. It is ALWAYS good and kind of casual but still warm and cozy.
                              Carmen in North Square, you need to make reservation, might be a second date kind of place if you really like her.
                              Or if you want something that is comfort food but really good, North Street Grill. It's not Italian but it's soooo good. Food takes forever but it's so worth it.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Roseto33

                                Roseto - on the North Street Grill rec, it sort of fell out of favor with hounds after the original chef left (and I think went to the Good Life). Are you speaking from memory or have you been there recently? I have not seen too many recent notices about how the place is faring.

                                1. re: Bob Dobalina


                                  They still do a huge breakfast/brunch business on the weekends - but dinner - not so much any more.

                              2. Thanks for the help, everyone. I ended up making an 8:45 reservation at Murizio's. After walking through a bustling Hanover Street, we arrived a little bit early. Since it is quite small inside with no bar, we had to wait outside. The hostess felt terrible, but this wasn't a problem at all...it was only for a few minutes. The place does have a cozy atmosphere which we enjoyed.

                                The food was excellent. After learning my date doesnt like seafood, I realized most of the appetizers were off limits. Instead, we started with a spinach salad with apples, walnuts, and blue cheese dressing. I enjoyed it, especially for something I would not have otherwise ordered. For the main course I went with a Sardinian pasta dish with lamb and sausage. This was a different style Italalian than I'm used to, but I it was excellent nonetheless. My date had the gnocchi and seemed to enjoy it. For dessert, we walked down the street to Mike's for a canoli.

                                Overall, I would reccomend Maurizio's as a great first date spot. I'm looking forward to trying some of the other places mentioned in the posts.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: balleresq

                                  But will there be a second date?
                                  Let us know if you need some ideas.
                                  These sorts of questions are analogous to Click and Clack giving marital advice.

                                  1. re: balleresq

                                    Thanks for reporting back - that sort of thing is always appreciated.
                                    (Will this sentiment get deleted too? Maybe FrankieSandals was right in part about the board being humorless...?)

                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      The key is to use totally lame humor. That's why my posts never get deleted! :-b