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Must-try Italian Restaurants in Boston

Hey Boston CH-ers - my SO and I are coming to Boston from Toronto for a few days. What are your favourite Italian restaurants - keeping in mind, we want central (walking distance in downtown), a funky vibe (well, not stodgy) and decent wine, and good food (not necessarily the most expensive). Any suggestions for me? Thanks in advance.

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  1. Prezza in the North End, very very good but expensive. Trattoria Toscana in the Fenway, smaller, much more reasonably priced, excellent pastas, a little more off the beaten path but walking distance from Kenmore Square.

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    Trattoria Toscana
    130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

    Prezza
    24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

    6 Replies
    1. re: bakerboyz

      The Fenway place sounds great - we are staying at the Commonwealth - any idea if it's close by?

      1. re: Arcadiaseeker

        Yes, it's close by. Within walking distance.
        There are not other Italian places within easy distance of your hotel, but there are several others very close by via the T - Erbaluce and Via Matta are two that immediately come to mind.

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        Via Matta
        79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

        Erbaluce
        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Second Da Vinci. Just had a great meal there and it was very reasonable.

        1. re: Arcadiaseeker

          Trattoria Toscana is excellent and only a 5-10 minute walk from your hotel. You can walk right by Fenway Park.

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          Trattoria Toscana
          130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

          Fenway Park
          82 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA 02215

          1. re: bakerboyz

            how about coppa that is in the south end

      2. Second Coppa, though they don't take reservations, don't serve dessert, and are a bit farther of a walk.

        Davinci and Via Matta are good, but I personally think Davio's is better. Their pasta and seafood dishes are really great (lobster risotto, gnocchi, scallops, etc). It's a bit more expensive than the others, and the food isn't as "creative" as Coppa or Erbaluce, say, but it's really really good. Not at all heavy.

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        Davio's
        75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Via Matta
        79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

        Erbaluce
        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Coppa
        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

        2 Replies
        1. re: yanz

          Davio's is nice, I sometimes will take a coffee and or dessert during tennis tournaments and watch ESPN on afternoon breaks. Also a fan of Davio's To Go in the St. James St Lobby adjacent to Davio's. They have one pasta special, one pizza special, and one soup special everyday as well as salads and a few bakery iterms. A tad pricey, but generally worth it, and if you can get a seat, it's a pleasant place to take lunch, summer, winter, spring or fall.

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          Davio's
          75 Arlington St Ste Lbby, Boston, MA 02116

          1. re: yanz

            coppa also has no air conditioning.

          2. I would second the recommendations for Coppa, Erbaluce and Trattoria Toscana (although Coppa is a bit further away).

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            Trattoria Toscana
            130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

            Erbaluce
            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

            Coppa
            253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

            12 Replies
            1. re: greenzebra

              i went to grotto in beacon hill for RW and was impressed. great cavatelli.

              1. re: chubscout

                what do people think about Rialto in the context of good Italian restaurants. It and Coppa are my two favorites.

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                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  I'm a little biased since I've met Jody Adams several times, but she's excellent, very approachable and friendly as well. I love hanging out at the bar eating oysters or anything there really.

                  1. re: tatsu

                    me, too, but i wonder how people think about rialto versus the rest of the italian restaurants; it is my favorite and i live close by.

                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                      I've only been to Rialto once. The soft-shell crab was excellent, but the famed duck dish was rather a disappointment.

                      I think it is (based admittedly on one visit) fairly good, but not 'the best', and rather expensive for what it offers.

                      tb

                      1. re: trueblu

                        i like rialto, but i am open to trying something better, trueblue, what do you think? what are your favorites?

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                          Oddly enough, although my wife and I both love Italian food, we've not been to many in Boston...so I'm probably not the best judge. Had an outstanding pasta dish once at ten tables JP, but subsequent visits were nowhere near as good.

                          There's a long list of italian restaurants that we're keen to try but somehow not managed yet...prezza and erbulace being near the top of the list.

                          tb

                        2. re: trueblu

                          i like rialto, love jody to death, but never think of it as being an "italian restaurant." more mediterraneran...

                  2. re: chubscout

                    I've had one great meal at Grotto (three-course prix fixe for about $30, everything seasoned very well, including the cavatelli which is amazing), but then a few months later had a horrible one... everything was way too salty, especially the duck entree and the short rib gnocchi entree. I usually am on the side of thinking things aren't salty enough, but these dishes were some of the saltiest Italian food I've ever had. It could have been one bad night, but it prevented it from becoming our go-to neighborhood Italian place when we lived really close by. It's a shame because you could tell those dishes would have been really tasty if it weren't for the extra salt (gnocchi was nice and pillowy, and the duck was very tender and moist). I'd probably give it another shot at some point if I'm in the area just because the $30 prix fixe is hard to beat when they are having a good night.

                    1. re: Mike5966

                      i've had two really mediocre meals at grotto and both times the service was so bumbling and amateurish, i felt embarrassed for the waiter and waitress. way too many other sure bets where i'd prefer to spend my money.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I agree - I found Grotto unimpressive.

                        Rialto is a great choice, although more luxurious than thus more expensive than others. I particularly love Erbaluce and La Morra, both wonderful and moderately priced. Erbaluce is a bit more creative while La Morra more traditional.

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                        La Morra
                        48 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA 02445

                        Erbaluce
                        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                        1. re: SmokeDawg

                          You've hit on my two favorites: Erbaluce and La Morra. I also like Gran Gusto and, for cheap and very good, Basta Pasta in Cambridge (haven't tried the more up-scale Quincy one but here good things). I do like Prezza and Il Casale.

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                          Prezza
                          24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                          La Morra
                          48 Boylston Street, Brookline, MA 02445

                          Gran Gusto
                          90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                          Erbaluce
                          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                2. I'd consider Dante Restaurant which is on the Cambridge Side of the river but walkable. Also, very nice outdoor patio.