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North End/Little Italy Must Eats

This is our third trip to Boston and we are going to explore The North End. A friend has recommended Michael's and Daily Catch. I know this area is teeming with great spots but what are a few "don't miss this" places.

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  1. Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street is my favorite pizza place in Boston. They have limited hours, say 11AM to 2PM, or before they run out. I'm also a big fan of Modern Pastry, which is less well known to out of towners. I think The Daily Catch has a very uneven reputation. Do they still have the Chinese cook? When he was there, the kitchen ran fine, although the service was somewhat cranky.

    1. If you're looking for traditional "red sauce" Italian-style (i.e. veal or chicken parm; shrimp scampi) I think Massimino's on Endicott always delivers and has very reasonable prices for the NE. If you're looking for something a little more adventurous, I love Taranta on Hanover St. The chef mixes Peruvian influences with Italian for some great dishes, such as macadamia-encrusted salmon fillet with risotto. Right across the street from Taranta is another restaurant called Tresca where I had an amazing rack of lamb if that's what you're into. A spot I don't see much about on the board is on Fleet St. and is called La Summa, where they go more traditional "red sauce" Italian but with amazing homemade pastas (I love the spinach manicotti). You'll see a line out the door at Giacomo's because it's in every tourist guide to Boston. Food is good if you have cash only and don't mind waiting. Lots of seafood/pasta mixes. I also think Marco is quite good, which is upstairs from Cafe Paradiso where I much prefer the service and atmosphere to Cafe Vittoria, which is a tourist favorite. If you're looking for a little more upscale, pricey and/or romantic, Mamma Maria in North Square is nice. I think without question you should get a cannoli at Modern Pastry if you are a cannoli fan. I know there has been a lot of negative press on the boards recently about Neptune Oyster on Salem St. but I have always had excellent food there. Their burger is one of my favorite in the city (served with 3 fried oysters on top and awesome fries). Not sure what your budget or desire is, but I hope you have a great time. There are approximately 90 places here in the North End to eat so have fun!

      1. You may find this recent thread useful: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/615709 And if you click on Northender's user name in the last post in the linked thread you will see a bunch of North End-related posts to which he/she has contributed.

        I have never heard of Michael's and wonder if you mean Mike's Pastry.

        2 Replies
        1. re: GretchenS

          michael's used to be across the street (sort of) from where joe's is now. long gone indeed.

          daily catch was a hot spot when it first opened over 30 years ago, but there are much better places now, and with far more seats. it was one of the first seafood specialty (sicilian, not italian) places in the neighborhood. neptune (italian, not sicilian) now blows it out of the water.

          check gretchen's link and i'll throw maria's pastry in, because it's often over-looked and i think better than mike's or modern.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Yes, if the Michael's he is talking about is "Michael's Waterfront" it has been gone for years (and is now a Beacon Hill Athletic Club, I believe.) Used to be a very clubby bar, great spot for singles with excellent burgers. Not Italian at all. But anyway, doesn't matter 'cause it's not there anymore :)

        2. My not-to-miss places in the North End would be Mamma Maria and Prezza for upscale, Neptune Oyster for seafood, and Mike's Pastry for cannoli.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jgleeche

            Thanks for all the tips. I'm sure my friend's recommendation was for Mike's Pastry because of the cannoli. I think we will try Massimino's and Neptune Oyster and will report back around July 1st. Thanks for the posts.

            1. re: pollystyrene

              I totally agree with pollystyrene's posting.
              FYI - no Bostonian ever calls the North End "Little Italy".

            2. Just thought I would mention that I had a sfoggliatelle from Bova's yesterday and it was quite good. Also, they sell pizza dough - not as good as Haymarket pizza's fresh dough, but it worked well.

              1. My favorite in the North End for classic Italian is Il Panino (http://www.trattoriailpanino.com/). When I went home to Boston to visit my family, I wanted to take my boyfriend (from FL) to a classic North End restaurant. To this day he is still talking about the lobster ravioli with crab sauce. It's delicious! I also really like their gnocchi. Plus they have outdoor dining---a nice touch on a warm night.

                For dessert you can get gelato (there are a number of spots that are good), but I would rather go to Mike's Pastry and get a few cannolis. :)

                3 Replies
                  1. re: jgleeche

                    We just got back and Boston is one of my fav places to go EAT! CH helped me decide where to go this time and here's my list:
                    Neptune - absolutely the best
                    Daily Catch - very good (calamari scampi)
                    Maria's hand fills the cannoli when you order it - had Modern's and Mikes - they weren't even competition!
                    I thought Bova's was fun for sandwich's
                    Coffee shop just toward town from Bova's was worthless!
                    Also ate at Helmand's - our of the North End but it was VERY good!
                    Clear Flour was hands down the best bakery - beat Flour and HighRise!
                    Have fun!!!!

                    1. re: joanieloch

                      Although to be fair, Modern hand-fills the cannoli to order as well.