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Mare or Antico Forno for Boston Marathon

kemmek Feb 5, 2010 08:30 PM

I am a Chicagoan visiting Boston for the marathon, and I was wondering whether you would recommend Mare or Antico Forno (or neither) for a pre-marathon meal. I'm looking for great Italian food (pasta and seafood in particular) on the light side (unlike most people, I don't like eating huge meals the night before a race) at a restaurant that takes reservations.


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  1. Beachowolfe RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 03:51 AM

    1 for Mare, nothing light about Antico Forno. Are you set on the North End?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Beachowolfe
      kemmek RE: Beachowolfe Feb 6, 2010 04:15 PM

      Nope- I'm not set on the North End. I'm staying at the Marriott in Copley Square, and I'd be willing to travel 15 minutes or so by cab.

    2. p
      Pegmeister RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 05:33 AM

      I find the atmosphere of Mare to be too contemporary for me. Antico Forno is a regular stop on my rotation especially for the chicken parm. I would agree though that most dishes are on the heavier side. Maybe if you went with the mussels fradiavolo that would work. It's not on the menu, but if you ask they'll make it and it is really well done. Other than that you could do a search on this site for the North End and see what else sounds. good. They're are a ton of opinions about restaurants in the North End.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Pegmeister
        BostonZest RE: Pegmeister Feb 6, 2010 01:33 PM

        I have fallen Antico Formo's mussel dish. (Cozze Piccanti) That and some bread is a great meal for me. We learned a new mussel eating technique from the woman at the next table. She would free the mussel, spoon in some sauce and slurp it like an oyster. It was perfect for this dish because the sauce was so good. Photo here.


        1. re: BostonZest
          Pegmeister RE: BostonZest Feb 6, 2010 05:31 PM

          Love the article and the photos. I go to Antico Forno fairly frequently and was so pleased when I asked them if they would do this mussel dish. Not only were they accomodating, but the mussels were as good as what I prepare at home, and I most often prefer what I prepare at home. Antico Forno doesn't always get a lot of love on this board, and I understand that. My first visit I was totally underwhelmed yet I'm glad I returned especially since they expanded.

      2. p
        phatchris RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 05:57 AM

        Skip them both and hit Prezza or Marco.

        1. t
          treb RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 09:00 AM

          Go to Galleria Umberto on Hanover St. in the NE and chow on pizza, orancini (rice balls), calzones, pretty much everything on the menu, and you'll leave with a carb filled high and money left in your running shorts.

          1. MrsCheese RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 11:51 AM

            I love the linguine with clams at Antico Forno; it's the only thing I order there. It's not heavy at all.

            1. r
              RoyRon RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 12:26 PM

              I like the Frutti di Mare with linguine at Antico Forno that they put in a parchment paper bag and bake in their wood fired oven. Very delicious and not necessarily too heavy.

              1. k
                kemmek RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 04:34 PM

                Thanks everyone for your replies. It sounds like the general consensus is Antico Forno over Mare, but possibly neither. It looks like both restaurants have linguine with seafood dishes, which sound great to me.

                I only came across Mare because it was offering 1,000 points on OpenTable, and the focus on "natural, coastal Italian" appealed to me. It's odd though- I just noticed that its website says it serves dinner from Tuesday to Saturday, even though OpenTable also has reservation slots for Sunday and Monday.

                I've been doing some more research, and now I'm also considering Erbaluce, Via Matta, and Da Vinci. How would those compare? Prezza sounds wonderful too. Maybe I need to plan another trip to Boston!

                5 Replies
                1. re: kemmek
                  Pegmeister RE: kemmek Feb 6, 2010 05:38 PM

                  Prezza is a totally different experience from Antico Forno. I think of Antico Forno for a late lunch, casual, good pasta. Prezza for me, is an event. Can't ever imagine anyone being dissapointed with a meal at Prezza. They have a great bar if you want something more casual. Paella is wonderful as are the figs stuffed with gorgonzola and wrapped with prosciutto,.

                  1. re: Pegmeister
                    Beachowolfe RE: Pegmeister Feb 7, 2010 04:26 AM

                    So I guess I was off about Antico Forno compared to dishes others have had. When I think about eating there the following stuff comes to mind, will have to try the clams next time. pics from their website, all good dishes IMO.

                  2. re: kemmek
                    bafonso RE: kemmek Feb 7, 2010 10:44 PM

                    My favorite italian in boston is not in the north end. It's called Trattoria Toscana. Tuscan style, I don't know if you're up for that :)

                    1. re: kemmek
                      Joanie RE: kemmek Feb 8, 2010 04:05 AM

                      These 3 restaurants are all good and a short walk from your hotel. I think DaVinci is really cute, it's a little under the radar. I also agree with the Marco suggestion altho I didn't have their pasta when I was there and agree that Prezza feels kind of like an event, altho splitting a few apps at the bar is less $$.

                      1. re: kemmek
                        hunterboston RE: kemmek Feb 8, 2010 07:15 AM

                        Of the last 4 you mentioned, I would go with Erbaluce. With that said, Via Matta and Prezza are solid options, with Via Matta being my choice of the 2. You can walk there from your hotel. Da Vinci has good food (am not a fan of the space/interior design). Enjoy your stay in Boston.

                      2. Mr. Mack RE: kemmek Feb 9, 2010 02:31 PM

                        The pizza at Antico Forno is pretty unremarkable, especially considering Pizzeria Regina is just a couple of streets over.

                        The calamari app however is probably the best rendition I've had yet. It was surprisingly light for a fried item, and the squid was perfectly tender. It comes topped with a vinaigrette which really doesn't taste like much (a good thing if you ask me).

                        I also had the shrimp app, over a bed of arugula, which I found only decent.

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