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Best Italian in the North End?

t
thegrifter Sep 8, 2010 02:55 PM

I'll be in Boston for a wedding this October and am looking for the best North End Italian for a Friday night dinner. Not looking for any kind of scene, just for great food. I love red gravy and I love more refined Italian - open to any place. I've received a lot of recommendations from friends and family that seem to be all over the place, so thought I'd see if I could get any consensus on here.

Here are the places that have been suggested to me, please let me know what you all think or if you suggest a different place:

- Lucca

- Antico Forno

- Bricco

- Mother Anna's

- Carmen

- Cannoli's at Mike's

Thanks in advance!

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Antico Forno
93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

Lucca Restaurant
226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

Bricco
241 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

Mother Anna's
211 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

  1. j
    Jenny Ondioline Sep 8, 2010 09:03 PM

    There are some things that Mike's excels in--the cookies tend to be very good--but many argue that the cannoli at Modern Pastry are far better. This is one of the Boston board's perpetual arguments, however.

    I like some things on Antico Forno's lunch menu, but it wouldn't be my one-dinner-in-the-NE choice.

    If you're looking for the full North End red sauce experience, you could certainly do worse than Mother Anna's.

    -----
    Antico Forno
    93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

    Modern Pastry
    257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

    1. Bob Dobalina Sep 9, 2010 04:29 AM

      This is probably one of the most comprehensive North End threads - wish we could sticky-note it - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/448599

      Personally, I like Vinny's at Night in East Somerville and Gran Gusto in Cambridge over visits to the North End, but you should go to the N.E. for the compleat experience.

      1. p
        pemma Sep 9, 2010 06:04 AM

        The recommendations are all over the place because everybody has their favorites. You will never get a concensus on the best in the North End. However, in general I think most people would agree that for nicer, non-red sauce-type places these would make the cut:

        Prezza
        Mamma Maria
        Marco

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        Prezza
        24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

        Mamma Maria Restaurant
        3 North Sq, Boston, MA 02113

        2 Replies
        1. re: pemma
          mcel215 Sep 10, 2010 02:31 AM

          Ditto.

          1. re: pemma
            s
            southie_chick Sep 13, 2010 05:51 PM

            For a more casual / non-red sauce type place, I like Lo Conte's on Salem Street. I also had dinner over the summer with my in-laws at Pagliucca's (sp?) that was pretty good. Wasn't expecting much out of this place since the salad wasn't that good (crappy bottled dressing), but the veal was outstanding. And, I asked for my pasta with just garlic & oil (instead of red sauce) & it was sooooooo good - don't know what the chef did to make it taste so good.

          2. b
            bella_sarda Sep 9, 2010 10:23 AM

            I have been very disappointed by Antico Forno both times I've been there. I also prefer Modern's cannoli to Mike's. In lieu of either of those pastry options, Caffe Vittoria is lovely for a cappuccino or espresso and gelato after dinner.

            -----
            Antico Forno
            93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

            Caffe Vittoria
            296 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

            1 Reply
            1. re: bella_sarda
              c
              cambridgedoctpr Sep 9, 2010 10:32 AM

              it is Cambridge and not your typical italian restaurant, but I will again put in a plug for Jody Adam's Rialto in the Charles Hotel. My most recent meal was again very good, and every two months they change their emphasis to a different area of Italy. Currently, the food is Lombardian though I did not get a rice dish. Perhaps because Rialto is located in Harvard Square, it is not thought of as an Italian restaurant?

            2. MidCoastMaineiac Sep 9, 2010 10:36 AM

              A decent list though I would throw in Giacomo's. And count me in the list of Modern Pastry cannolis (though the suggestion to get a cannoli and after dinner drink at Vittoria is definitely a good one).

              -----
              Modern Pastry
              257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

              4 Replies
              1. re: MidCoastMaineiac
                j
                Jenny Ondioline Sep 9, 2010 01:11 PM

                And it kills two birds with one stone: Vittoria's cannoli come from Modern. They used to come from Mike's, but there was some kind of spat between the owners.

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                  p
                  phatchris Sep 10, 2010 09:42 AM

                  I'm sure the "spat" has nothing to do with the fact that Mikes wanted to expand up, and take away the "air quality" of the apartments above Vittoria.

                  1. re: phatchris
                    j
                    Jenny Ondioline Sep 10, 2010 10:57 AM

                    Yes, something like that. I don't remember the specifics.

                  2. re: Jenny Ondioline
                    t
                    thegrifter Sep 14, 2010 12:10 PM

                    I think I've decided on Prezza followed by coffee and cannolis at Caffe Vittoria. Thanks for the rec!

                2. d
                  drewinmrblhd Sep 10, 2010 10:32 AM

                  I also would add Giacomo's!, yum!

                  1. t
                    thegrifter Sep 13, 2010 03:00 PM

                    Thank you everyone for your thoughts. Looking forward to it (wherever i end up going!)

                    1. f
                      FoodDabbler Sep 13, 2010 03:57 PM

                      I've had good meals at Prezza and Taranta (for something faintly different). On the sweet front I too am a Modern man. Outside the North End, I've liked my two meals at Rialto, and I'd go there if I wasn't concerned about cost. Although Gran Gusto gets a lot of love (or at least a lot of like) from people here, I'm not yet a convert. The pizzas are quite good, but I've had some very strange main courses there. I remember a meat dish with a strawberry sauce so sweet, so studded with halved strawberries that it was as if dessert had wandered over from another prep table and squatted on the main course. Just last night I had a reinterpretation of minestrone soup there that was light, filled with fresh vegetables, and almost entirely tasteless. They could have achieved the same effect by steaming some veggies and serving them with a little of the cooking water. I've had much more robustly flavored food at Pulcinella in the same general neighborhood.

                      1. Love to dine out Sep 14, 2010 05:19 AM

                        We arrived from out of town(in fact out of country) last night and hit the north end. When I saw the lineup at 5:30 outside Giacomo's and all seats inside full, that sealed the deal. Freshly made pasta, clean simple sauces, really fast service. My lobster fusilli dish was still cracking hot through the end of my meal. Cash only! When asking for dessert our server suggested Modern down the road. They do one thing and do it well. Pasta and wine. No desserts. Can you fault them? With a lineup down the road, They've got their act together!

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