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Mare or Antico Forno for Boston Marathon

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

    1 Reply
    1. re: Beachowolfe

      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. 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

        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

          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. Skip them both and hit Prezza or Marco.

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

            1. 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. 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

                  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

                    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

                    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

                      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

                        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. 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.