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Nov 5, 2010 07:47 PM

Rino's in East Boston

Just saw a re-broadcast of Rino's on Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives. Has anyone been lately? Probably crowded after the broadcast, I guess.
But, how's the food and how's the wine? I'm looking for a real down-to-earth Italian restaurant and this seems to fit the bill. Those lobster ravioli looked awesome!
We used to go to East Boston to Zafferano's but, sadly, that closed a while ago. I see Rino's is on the same street, but a couple of miles down. Would the "T" stop still be Orients Heights? Maybe we'd be better off driving from Boston.
Thanks, everyone!

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  1. Rino's is really good, and it's also just okay. The chef was born in Abruzzo, raised in the States, took the kitchen over from his dad some years ago. The bulk of the menu is very well-executed but pretty pedestrian red-sauce Italian-American fare in big portions at nice prices. It's the formula of 80% of the North End, and it's very good of its kind: you just have to like that kind.

    The pollo parmigiano covers a giant dinner plate and is drenched in a quality sugo and melted mozzarella. The difference is that the accompanying pasta is made in-house: you don't see that every day.

    Where I think DiCenso really shines is on his specials menu, where he does much more traditional fare, also at nice prices. I think his osso bucco Milanese kicks the ass of versions three times its price on the other side of the Callahan. The wines aren't special, the room is loud, they don't take reservations, and the service is kind of brusque. But when he's not pandering, he's really good.

    Mea culpa for being part of a hype train that has brought outside crowds to the place: an interview with Jose Duarte, chef/owner of Taranta, in BoMag (whose professed love for the place got me to visit), my review in the Phoenix , a recent Herald review, a Phantom Gourmet bit, and then Guy Fieri (who I'm afraid I might have steered there -- his producers asked me for Boston-area suggestions, and Rino's was one of mine).

    Sorry about that: do what I have always mostly done: go at lunch.

    7 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      Hey MC nice write-up, I disagree on the statement, ". It's the formula of 80% of the North End" Sadly IMO, most places in the NE are tourist traps and way overpriced for what they deliver. I really wish DD&D never came to Rino's, I haven't been back since fearing a mob scene, potentially a fall off in quality and lastly the chef/owner getting a swelled head over all the publicity. I'm hoping to get back before the holidays set in.

      1. re: treb

        Went there last Saturday but got there "late" - the wait was already 3+ hours at 5:30PM! The food did look & smell good tho. ; ) Wish they would do rezzies for large parties - I'd make a chow meet up before the holidays there if they did.
        Ended up at Sake on Route 1 (Saugus) for sushi instead & it was great.

        1. re: southie_chick

          They take reservations for parties of 6+, a 3 hour wait at 5:30 are you kidding!!

          1. re: treb

            Thanks for the info on the 6+ for rezzies - there was only 3 of us so we were S.O.L.!
            I drove all the way down from Merrimack, NH & got caught in traffic - usually get there by 5 but figured it would be OK at 5:30. SHOCKED when they said 3+ hours.
            Now, all we we have to do Treb is have 4 more 'hounds meet us there for dinner & we'll be all set for a rezzie - AND we should make MC pay for dinner since he made it so busy there now! ; )

            1. re: southie_chick

              If I'm around, I could help with the head count! Hey, if that's the way to get a table, I have no shame.

        2. re: treb

          My point is about the menu formula: most North End places aren't doing traditional regional Italian fare, but Italian-American cuisine derived from South-Central Italy (Campania, mostly): like fried cutlets and too much red sauce and gobs of melted mozzarella.

          I agree that much of the North End is touristy and overpriced, and many don't execute this kind of I-could-do-that-at-home-myself Italian-American food very well. I hope it's clear that I think Rino's does this kind of thing much better and with better value than most, but I still don't think that's the best reason to go.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Thanks for the clarification, I thought that's where you were headed, especially swimming in red and the gobs of mozz.

      2. Rino's is great if you grew up Italian with macaroni and gravy every Sunday and miss it. If that isn't what you are looking it is still worth the trip - but the specials are definitely the way to go. Had an amazing braised lamb shank there that was not only incredible but half the price of the other side of the tunnel. I live relatively close, but most nights when we try to go for dinner the wait is too crazy, and ever since DD&D it is even worse. We usually try to organize a party of 6 and get a rez. Wine is okay, nothing special, but then it is priced appropriately for what it is (and for someone who grew up drinking stuff my grandfather made in a tub in the basement, served in jelly glasses, it goes with the meal)

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bivalve

          Bivalve! That's EXACTLY what I'm looking for!!! Nothing better than a made-in-the-tub-Chianti!!!
          We'll be there the Friday after Thanksgiving and I'm hoping maybe we can go early? Maybe 4:30-5:00 and not have such a long wait??? It's only the two of us, so maybe they can squeeze us in somewhere!!

        2. How busy is it at lunch time?

          3 Replies
          1. re: BBHound

            Haven't been for lunch since my Phoenix review a year ago, but it was always poky, never close to half full, even during the prime lunch hour.


            1. re: BBHound

              not busy at all at lunch. i used to live right next to eastie high, and in the summers i'd take friday's off and have lunch at rino's. i even had my 30th birthday there. they opened the place up on a sunday for me and about 30 people. 2 waitresses. amazing food. i love it there.