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Going to the North End Friday Night For Dinner. What's your favorite?

With a fun group and looking for great food and wine.

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  1. My favorite is Prezza.

    24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

    1 Reply
    1. Obviously depends on what you are looking for and what you want to spend.

      Absolutely agree with Prezza (bonus for the full bar).
      Taranta is also a favorite where I have never had a bad meal.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        Been to Taranta and it was very good! We are traveling in from Florida and would like to enjoy a traditional Italian Dinner at a moderate price.

        1. re: thrilla05

          I too love prezza, but in case it doesn't fit into your idea of "moderate price" (though that varies from person to person, so just take a look at their menu online). Marco is good food, cozy atmosphere and more affordable, and I recently had a couple of very tasty meals at Panza, also more reasonable.

      2. If you dont mind spending money, Prezza is the best.

          1. Make reservations. Nothing sucks the fun out of a Friday in the North End like standing in line for an hour, for me, anyway.

            As many have noted, Prezza has great food and one of the best wine lists in the North End. It's expensive, but I also think it's easy to overorder there. A normal person can't come close to finishing an antipasto, primo, and secondo. Sharing a few apps and pasta courses will help keep your check more reasonable. Fancy food always looks grim from a doggie bag the next day, anyway.

            Mamma Maria has another good wine list, and I've had solid experiences with the food and service over the years, but it's a different experience: traditional where Prezza is modern, in a quaint old townhouse with lots of little dining rooms. It's still not a Southern Italian or Italian-American kind of place, a real Northern focus to the menu, and also rather expensive.

            Another place with an impressive wine list and big price tags is Tresca. I can't comment on the food here. It has a celebrity owner, which isn't always a great value indicator to me.


            1. How is Ristorante Saraceno? Menu looks fairly good??

              4 Replies
                1. re: thrilla05

                  I don't think much of it: it's very traditional, mid-priced red-sauce Neapolitan-American, a frozen-in-amber menu from 30 years ago, with very kitschy decor. It's sort of the definition of the unexceptional, touristy North End place. And I wouldn't dine there if they could only seat me in that windowless, claustrophobic basement room. Ground or two upper floors only.


                  1. re: thrilla05

                    It's fine, IMO. But probably not a 'great' choice for a visitor looking to be wowed by the best that the N.E. has to offer.

                    And I've never been relegated to the catacomb room MC Slim describes, that sounds scary.

                    1. re: thrilla05

                      As McSlim said, the Saraceno is in a time warp. Dated interior, standard menu. I have to say that I love the red sauce, the calamari and the eggplant parm, though. The antipasto used to be decent, too, but I haven't had it in a while.

                    2. Kind of depends on your definition of "a traditional Italian meal."

                      And "moderately priced."

                      Red sauce kind of place?

                      Under $100 per person with wine?

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                        Yeah, definitely red sauce-coming from a born and raised Italian, thats what I prefer. More like $50.00 per person-this is some what of a biz trip and we're on a budget. I also have been recomended to Ristorante Fiore's. Whats your opinon on that?

                        1. re: thrilla05

                          I don't think much of Fiore unless not having a rooftop outdoors dining area is a deal-breaker. There are many better places in the North End from a food standpoint.

                          If you want good Southern Italian red sauce stuff at a non-break-the-bank price, you might consider Pagliuca's, Antico Forno, Maurizio's (like Northender said, more Sardinian), or Rabia -- or for Southern Italian seafood, Daily Catch or Giacomo's. I actually like Saraceno's, but it's best to stick to standard red sauce basics there.

                          Marco and Taranta are excellent, though not really old-school red sauce places (Taranta is actually Peruvian/Italian). Prezza and Mamma Maria are both top-notch, but Northern Italian and expensive.

                          Feel free to check out my aging but still useful North End report:


                          1. re: bachslunch

                            All great choices and I'd add Il Panino to the list. I think it's a great choice when folks are looking for simple, basic, traditional fare --yes, they also have some innovative things on the menu but you can always find pasta and red sauce dishes here, and they're good. I think so anyway.

                            1. re: twentyoystahs

                              We love Il Panino, although it seems I'm usually in the minority on that one. Maybe we order the right things. The ragu is awesome. I also love the frutti di mare there.

                              1. re: MrsCheese

                                My biggest gripe against Trattorio Il Panino is that they refuse to serve patrons tap water on request, followed by consistent pestering during the meal to buy a beverage if you refuse to. I just can't in good conscience recommend a place that does this.

                                If they stop doing this, please post about it here, as I'd be interested to know.

                                1. re: bachslunch

                                  I just had lunch at Il Panino last Saturday. Refusal of tap water and now apparently, they don't have ice. I seriously have tried to give this place the benefit of the doubt, but I think I will stick with the good ol' Antico next time I want lunch. Or ice.

                                  1. re: bachslunch

                                    Il Panino's still refuses to serve tap water which I just don't understand. Fortunately, I've never been pushed to order bottled water after my initial refusal, That would really be annoying. I like it best when Francesco is working because he always has good menu recommendations. I only wish they would bring back their bianco lasagna with shrimp, potatos and bechamel. Now that was an amazing dish.

                        2. Another vote for Prezza with very honorable mention to: Marco and Taranta. Also for a little different experience, Maurizio's which is Sardinian.

                          If you end up with a more intimate goup (4 or less) Carmen is a nice take but probably not what you had in mind. Agree with OP's that you should have reservation for a Friday night in Spring or summer when foot traffic is huge in the NE.

                          Have a great time.