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Jan 2, 2011 02:52 PM

Seriously, CHers... Antico Forno?

I generally avoid the North End (have had few positive experiences) but had a friend in town who wanted to go. I'm always up for trying a new places and searched this board for a few threads and saw Antico Forno on Salem Street recommended a number of times so I figured I would try it out.

Horrendous service... we showed up a bit before our 7:30 reservation but were not seated until 8:05. Until we were seated, we contended with a surly bartender who took over 5 minutes to fulfill an order of a glass of prosecco from an open bottle that was right in front of her. Finally seated at a rickety table for three in the middle of the dining area next to screaming children. My husband was consistently bumped from behind from the one waiter serving the entire dining room.

We all had pasta, which despite each dish having delectable sounding menu descriptions, tasted exactly the same. My rigatoni with peas, Italian ham, mushrooms, sweet onions and mascarpone had no trace of mascarpone and tasted like nothing other than regular marinara... which is exactly what my husband's meal tasted like.

Curious why this place is recommended... it was an absolute zoo and it wasn't cheap, either.

Antico Forno
93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

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  1. I haven't been back since it expanded, and have noted several negative reports here since that expansion, but have long observed that: a) they have always treated reservations cavalierly, essentially honoring them only if it's convenient, b) I think the best items come from their wood oven, like a few baked pastas and their pizzas, and c) it's a family-friendly place. I have enjoyed it over the years for certain scenarios (typically big groups with kids), but it hardly gets universal acclaim here.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I "use" it for lunch.

      Great Chicken Parm from the wood oven. Never really think of it for a dinner destination and haven't ordered anything else for years.

      I know through firends that they're not great about honoring reservations. They used to take a cell phone an send yout to Bacco,

      BTW,those rickety tables were a gift from a nearby marina that Ms 9 managed. The marina now has nice, non rickety tables..:)

      107 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02119

    2. You should go there in August on a hot muggy summer night, no ac, they open the windows which doesn't help because you're wall-to-wall flesh. Oh yah, like MC Slim JB says, only order stuff from the wood oven, but don't set your expectations too high. Actually, when you factor in parking it's really not worth going in to the NE. I'd recommend taking a short trek over to Somerville and go to Vinny's.

      7 Replies
      1. re: treb

        To be fair the scene is the same at Neptune a few doors down (and many other NE places) on a 'hot muggy summer night'.

        1. re: Gabatta

          Don't go near Carmen on a hot muggy summer night..:)

          1. re: 9lives

            Don't go near Carmen on any night. This is a restaurant that doesn't "get" reservations either. At least AF has a bar where you can wait out your late-served reservation; at Carmen, they shove you out to the street while you wait.

            1. re: hondodog

              I've never had a problem with Carmen honoring reservations and I go at least 6 times a year.

              1. re: hondodog

                I have better luck than hondodog on Carmen honoring reservations, but not as good as phatchris. It's not bad enough to keep me away, though it's true I'm less likely to go in the dead of winter, given the lack of a comfortable waiting area.


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  IMO the dead of winter is the best time for the North End as most of the tourist have gone home, as long as its not school vacation week.I go into hibernation mode in the summer and either cook myself or leave the hood for the South End.

            2. re: Gabatta

              You're correct, I stop going to the NE from Memorial Day to Labor Day, way to crazy with those festivals and tourists.

          2. I like it for a late lunch, the service is much more relaxed and friendly when dining around 2:30 or 3:00. They have absolutely never been good about reservations. That said, I absolutely love their chicken parm and they are very good about making dishes that are not on a menu. They have always accomodated when I've asked for mussels fra diavolo. I do have to admit I haven't been back as often since my favorite waiter left. He just always knew the proper pace and never rushed us. He has since moved on to Artu and Mare so it's back to Artu for the shrimp scampi pizzal.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Pegmeister

              We stop in for the mussels and that's always at lunch time. I think like many places it is a conditional use spot.


              1. re: Pegmeister

                Hi Pegmeister!

                Your favorite waiter has now moved on to Gennaro's 5 North Square. With him there and a new chef that has completely revamped the menu and wine list, I MAY give this place a whirl.

                1. re: birdy30

                  Thanks, good to know! I haven't tried North Square in quite awhile, guess I'll have to give it a try. Let us know if you get their first.

              2. Lunch for me also. Ribollita soup and the Grilled lamb sandwich. excellent.

                1. that's too bad

                  i've only been to antico forno for lunch but i've always had a pleasant experience. i really like their lamb sandwich (sliced roast lamb topped with sauteed onions and peppers on thick grilled bread. served with a lightly dressed side salad of mixed greens)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: galangatron

                    My experience exactly mirrors Galangatron's: it's a perfectly nice place to have lunch, especially if you get that excellent lamb sandwich.