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Jul 21, 2009 08:31 AM

North End Restaurant Week suggestions

My wife and I moved to Somerville about 10 months ago, and we still have not had the chance to spend a day exploring the North End. With summer Restaurant Week coming up, we thought this would be a good excuse to get out to the North End for a day. The plan: pizza for lunch at Pizzeria Regina, followed by pastries (Mike's, Modern, or Maria's) and strolling around the neighborhood. Late afternoon snack of oysters and a drink at Neptune Oyster. Dinner somewhere offering a restaurant week menu. The only challenge is that my wife is a vegetarian (no meat or seafood -- I will be the only one eating oysters at Neptune), which usually isn't a problem at Italian restaurants, but might be more of an issue with the limited RW menus.

I've had my eye on Taranta for a while -- anyone had good or bad RW experiences there? Anyone have other suggestions of places that do a good job with RW? The list of restaurants is here: and the backdoor to the menus is here:

Thanks in advance!

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  1. The menu for Artu looks like it would work for you guys, I've had tasty non-RW meals there. Can't speak for RW specifically, but I generally like that place.

    1. If they are participating this year (they have in the past), i found Marco to be a great RW destination. They offered lots of menu options, almost their entire regular menu and the food and service did not decline despite RW issues that som venues suffer from.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Northender

        My three North End favorites (Prezza, Mamma Maria and Maurizio's) aren't participating in RW, but I've been wanting to try Marco based on all the good reviews and the charming looks of the dining room. As a vegetarian, RW can be especially tough since you're likely to find only one veg entree on even the full, regular menus. I looked at the Marco RW week menu, though, and there are two veg apps and one veg entree. Score! I'd go there. (I've been to Taranta once and didn't think my veggie dishes were very good.)

        1. re: pollystyrene

          It looks like both Mamma Maria and Maurizio's are participating, they just have yet to post menus. But thanks for the advice so far -- I think I'll wait a few days to see how the Mamma Maria and Maurizio's menus looks.

          1. re: tsackton

            Do you have a price range in mind? Both Mama Maria and Prezza are outstanding, but definitely in a higher price bracket than the other options. Mama Maria, if you haven’t been, is a fantastic dining experience (a wonderfully elegant, low lit establishment with fabulous service, and classy clientele). The food is excellently prepared, allowing traditional Italian flavors to shine through in even their most contemporary presentations. Try the rabbit paperdelle or the asparagus and pecorino ravioli for pasta, and any of the mains (especially the lamb or osso bucco). They also do a great sirloin carpaccio. If you're in the mood for bolognese, however, Prezza is the hands down favorite – never had anything like it. It is certainly not a traditional Italian setting, but the array of delectable dishes and hard-to-find wines provides a unique and must try culinary experience. As Prezza will not be participating in RW, I’d go for Mama Maria if you are looking for the higher end experience. Still at the higher end but not quite as financially straining are Marco and Maurizio’s. Marco’s salads and seafood dished are wonderful, and Maurizio’s ravioli di funghi al pesto is great (unfortunately, the gnocchi wasn’t as spectacular). Be ready for a more cramped seating environment at Maurizio’s. For the most bang for your buck (and the best tortellini alfredo in town), head to Bella Vista on Hanover St. Try their calamari – nothing fancy, but fresh, deep fried and paired with a perfectly traditional red sauce – and be sure to order the tiramisu – the only rendition I’ve had with a sprinkle of sugar atop the whipped cream to give the weightless and succulent dish a hint of texture. Best of luck and be sure to post about the dinner experience.

            1. re: cscott4313

              Since we're going during RW, the price is of course the same everywhere for the prix fixe menu (so the more expensive the restaurant is usually, the better deal restaurant week is). At the moment I'm leaning towards Mama Maria if the RW menu looks appealing, Marco otherwise.

                1. re: tsackton

                  If the mushroom ravioli is on the menu at Mamma Maria, I'd highly recommend it for your wife. It's dreamy. I doubt they'll have the Osso Bucco on the RW menu, but if they do, go for it! (It's free-range, at least as of the last time I was there, so your wife won't have to feel so bad about sitting at the table with veal.) I haven't had it but my DC's who have thought it was fantastic. Don't expect to be wowed by dessert here or at any NE place. If cheese is an option, that's the way to go.

        2. I've had several good RW meal at Taranta, also at Marco.