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Best North End Solid, Traditional, Boring Italian

I come from a family that loves Italian, but not the fancy kind. The only place I've found in the North End that meets this spaghetti-with-meatsauce description is Giacomo's, but they don't take reservations and are mostly seafood focused. I know the Sotuh End one is easier to get into.

Does anyone have any recommendations for this type of place, preferably that takes reservations? Gourmet Italian is lovely, but sometimes I just want a bowl of noodles and some red sauce.

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  1. I like l'Osteria on Salem Street. Smallish room with great red sauce Italian. Probably the best Veal Parm I've ever eaten, and that's saying some. A real bargain at lunch. And they do take reservations.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CapeCodGuy

      I'll chime in again for L'Osteria. Everyone from out of town we've ever taken there has been delighted with their meals. Solid food and service. Very accommodating to families and kids too.

      1. re: Science Chick

        L'Osteria all the way. Chicken Braciolatini (pounded thin, stuffed with proscuitto and fontina, rolled up and served in a wine sauce - or the valdostana version in a tomato sauce) served with a sie of pasta is about as classic ItAm as it gets.

    2. I like Cantina Italiana on Hanover Street - one of the oldest restaurants in the North End - www.cantinaitaliana.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: Small Plates

        Yes, pretty good for that kind of thing.

      2. Agree with L'Osteria (I think L'Osteria Rustica is its full name?), maybe add La Summa. I think La Summa is on Fleet St, a few doors up from Prezza.

        Also agree with Cantina, provided at least one of you get their "wheel" pasta.

        1. L'Osteria is a reliable crowd-pleaser on this score; I'd add Massimino's to this list. Both take reservations.


          1. LoConte's on Salem Street

            1. I'm a fan of LoContes on Salem and heard good things of the new Gennaros North Square.

              1. My family and I are big fans of Pagliuca's, we have pretty much ignored all other North End restaurants for the last 15 years or so. It's nothing fancy, but it's solid, consistent and crave worthy. A hand full of servers have been with them as long as we have been eating there and they are great with remembering faces and making you feel at home even if we just pop in a handful of times a year. http://www.pagliucasrestaurant.com/

                1. I lived in the North End for 20 years. Been a while since I moved but L'Osteria and Massimino's were always my go-to places for comfort food. Remember loving L'Osteria's veal agrodulce and salad dressing. Best manicotti EVER AT Massimino's. Let us know where you wind up!

                  1. i'll add the il panino on parmenter st., although i don't know if they take reservations.

                      1. re: RichardinJP

                        I second Mother Anna's. In addition to excellent veal and chicken dishes, the seafood always tastes very fresh. They also lucked out with the Big Dig and now have a large outdoor patio.

                        1. re: RichardinJP

                          We tried Mother Anna's 2 or 3 years ago (because of the patio) and had a rather mediocre experience both service and food-wise. I'm curious if things have changed or we just hit a bad night as the setting is fun.

                          We're not big on the North End but have been reasonably happy with Artu for red sauce dishes. That said when I'm in the mood for pasta with red sauce I prefer to head to Il Casale (no veal/chicken/eggplant parm though).

                        2. Again, L'Osteria does it for me. We sent friends there who wanted to spend the day in Boston before returning to NYC and they were raving about it (complete with iPhone pix and texts, hah) being really perfect in every way. Glad to see some consensus among hounds! Il Panino also a right-on choice.

                          1. They don't take reservations, and they aren't in the North End, but I use Carlo's Cuchina Italiana in Allston for my red-sauce Italian needs.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: kimfair1

                              We are Antico Forno or L'Osteria fans in the Swank fam.