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Oct 14, 2010 07:47 AM

Anyone been to Giacomo's in the North End lately?

Read some reviews here that sounded pretty good. Has anyone been lately?
Thank you for any input.

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  1. I don't like standing in line. I've never thought much of the food at the South End one, which always struck me as a triumph of quantity over quality. But at least it takes reservations.

    1. Good, not great food, but this place doesn't really ring my bell. Also, not a fan of lines.

      1. I haven't been for about a year. But I've been many times over the last 10 years because it's reasonably priced, you can get a table unless you're there on a weekend at peak hours, and the service is great. No, it's not the best food in the North End, but it's consistently good, has lots of choices on the menu, and you get that North End experience without a huge price tag and a huge hassle. I like their veal marsala.


        1. Haven't been in about a year, but for a place open as long as Giacomo's, that is relatively recent.

          Food is good, not great, mostly in the tradition of red sauce Italian American. You have to wait in line--and boy do people line up--which I find a bit silly, but if that works for you, and you like Italian American, it is one of the better digs (perhaps the best?) in the North End for that style. The South End variant takes reservations, but otherwise seems about the same.

          I disagree with Slim's "quantity over quality" dig--I'm not a huge fan, but it is not as if their only plus is serving massive plates of spaghetti and meatballs. Their serving sizes are inline with the rest of the North End.

          If you want something more creative and interesting than red sauce Italian American--and I do--you can do a lot better. In the North End: Prezza, Marco. Elsewhere: Erbaluce (Bay Village), Coppa (South End), Gran Gusto (Northeast Cambridge).

          24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

          11 Replies
          1. re: rlove

            I think there's a feedback loop going on with the lines there, which stretch down the sidewalk while similarly-uninteresting places in the neighborhood have much shorter waits. My theory is that people see the line and think, "Ooh, that place must be good", and queue up. Self-fulfilling.

            As for portions, I find them kind of grotesque, much as I do at most similar places in the North End. It's not the kind of low-grade, disgusting hog trough represented by venues like La Familia Giorgio, but it's still a travesty vs. traditional portion sizes: a typical pasta could feed four normal appetites.

            I have always found that off-putting, and it's dismaying when a really good place starts out with normal portions but inflates them over time to meet the expectations of the crowd that frequents the neighborhood, as Prezza did long ago. It's a little depressing.


            24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I have to agree with rlove --I've never found their portion sizes huge --at least not at the South End location. (It's been years since I've been to the North End one.)
              I am not a huge eater, but I typically get chicken parm or marsala, maybe a pasta dish and might have enough leftover for lunch the next day. Or I might not. I have never noted that their portions were excessively large. Or even slightly larger than average. Perhaps the N. End location has larger portions? Regardless, I think the spot(s) fill a niche nicely --red sauce italian. Yes, there are lots of other great, inventive, interesting italian restaurants, perhaps even focusing on a region of Italy -that's not Giacomo's. But for garlicky red sauce pasta/chicken/traditional italian american dishes, I think it's a good bet.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Isn't there also a Rachael Ray effect here with the lines?

                1. re: FoodDabbler

                  I wasn't aware that she promoted it, but that makes sense.


                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                      The only place I wait in line for in the North End is Galleria Umberto - it's inside so you actually don't see the line if you're just walking by. And, you can call ahead with your order if you don't feel like standing in line - which moves pretty quickly so I don't mind the line.

                      1. re: southie_chick

                        Totally agree, Umberto is probably the only restaurant line worth waiting in.

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  Your first paragraph is exactly right. When I grew up in the suburbs, I was taught (not just by my parents, but rather just as a Known Truth) that the way to find your way around the north end was to see who had the biggest line because they must be serving the best stuff. In a sense, it's not unlike the "see which asian resto has the most asians eating at it" theory that a lot of people have.

                  Perhaps with the internet things have changed somewhat, but I don't think so. I know that I was at giacomos about a year ago and heard multiple couples say something like, "Oh, there's a line! It must be good!" and hop in line.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    Oh, Wow, look at the lenght of the line at McDonald's. It must be good!

                    1. re: CocoDan

                      In my 'hood, wendys always has a bigger line than mcds, so I always go there instead.

              2. Good food, very simple and family style. Very reasonably priced and the entry wines are possibly the most affordable in the North End.