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Sep 11, 2012 06:35 PM

Italian dinner and dessert this Saturday - North End OR Cambridge/Somerville

This Saturday, my parents will be coming up for an early dinner with my girlfriend and I, and we're looking into doing Italian. There are two options here: 1) stay in Somerville/Cambridge area or 2) head out to North End. Either way, we will be eating dinner out, and then picking up pastries/desserts to bring back to my apartment in Somerville afterwards. We are looking for a traditional Italian restaurant with great food and good service where pasta dishes are $12-18. For dessert, several of us will be having tiramisu(which, by the way, I could not find a single thread on Chowhound Boston for) while others like cannoli and other typical Italian pastries.

-Dinner: Have heard great things about Gran Gusto, but have also seen conflicting opinions. It is slightly higher than our price range, but could be done.
-Dessert: Has anyone tried the mixed berry tiramisu from L'Impasto? We might also aim for dessert at Posto or from Lyndell's Bakery. Any other bakeries in the area that someone might recommend?

North End:
-Dinner: We love Terramia, but it is out of the price range for this meal, so we have a few other options. We really like Assaggio, but have also had good experiences at L'Osteria and La Galleria 33. We read good things about Giacomo's in the North End on Boston A-list, but have not had more vetted reviews from Chowhounders. Any other gems that we may be missing in this area?
-Dessert: Too many to list, but love cannoli from Mike's, berry cream tart from Modern, and many things from Bova. Does anyone have a recommendation for tiramisu in the North End?

Thanks for your help!

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  1. tufts, i know many will chip in, but you might also want to look at 2 current CH threads- one on Southern Italian places, and one on Trad. Red Sauce places in the No End.

    For a place close to you- though we weren't v. impressed, some CHs really like Pescatore .

    1. You're going to get conflicting opinions on every single restaurant. I start to freak out every time we make reservations for some expensive restaurant and then I search here and Yelp and find out that someone hated it. For what it's worth, I like Gran Gusto a lot.

      9 Replies
      1. re: dfan

        i like Rialto in Harvard Square, but then again, it is an easy walk for me and is located not far from the red line. Rialto serves Island Creek oyster for 1.00 on Mondays until they run out, a problem that i have faced.

        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

          Don't think Rialto really fits with the budgetary constraints.

          I think you should go to Pescatore - it's more middle of the road than Gran Gusto, but if the focus is pasta dishes, I think it gets a slight nod over Gran Gusto when also accounting for price. (GG on the whole is better than Pescatore, but is pricier, and you must include pizzas apps and mains to get the overall better rating.)

          Or you could go to Vinny's at Night and then you will have no need for a dessert.

          FYI, there is a branch of Modern Pastry in Medford Square, where you could pick up a tiramisu ahead of time to have back at the homestead.

          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            I agree with Bob on Pescatore, for your price range. Arthur's Pastryshop on Main in Medford is open until 7 M-Sat (5 on Sun). No idea about tiramisu, but Iike their cannoli. You could hit both Arthur's and Modern for a taste-off.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              I consider the tiramisu at Vinny's wonderful. you can take home your leftovers. A lovely touch is that they give out a plate of 3 melons before dessert/after entree.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                hadn't been to vinny's for quite a while, so was looking forward to their osso bucco and risotto a few months ago. what a disappointment. couldn't believe what they were trying to pass off as risotto: a few grains of rice -- long grain rice -- floating around in a flavorless sauce.

                we won't be back!

                1. re: wonderwoman

                  so sorry to hear that.never had the risotto there but I do think there has been drop off in quality. but the last time i had the tiramisu, it was great. actually, was the risotto a special? there are generally southern italian, american style.

                  1. re: Madrid

                    no, the osso bucco/risotto was on the regular menu.

            2. re: dfan

              We've decided that we'll go with Gran Gusto for dinner. Any must haves or must avoids to be aware of?

              1. re: tuftsauto

                i thought their eggplant parm was the best i'd ever had. i've not had better since then, a few yr ago now.

                if you look at the threads i suggested, you would see the most recent recs. there's even a new thread on exactly gran gusto.

            3. As far as dessert, I would not recommend Lyndells. Most agree that their shortening and sugar overdose approach is not going to compete with your experiences at various North End bakeries.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Parsnipity

                Although I agree with you on the standard pastries at Lyndell's, I have been very happy with their berry tarts(raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry in a cream-filled chocolate shell. For my girlfriend's birthday several weeks ago, the owner of Lyndell's was extremely helpful in creating a large size of their berry tart, which was a huge hit(leading to a bit of post-dessert depression for her and I).

                1. re: tuftsauto

                  Lyndell's is great and their half moons are the best around. The somerville location has been their for years. The north end location did well but they opted to go to central sq.

                  1. re: tuftsauto

                    Hmm. They are very convenient for us, so maybe will give them another try. Thanks. I also once had a cannoli from them that wasn't terrible, but assume they just bring in shells and filling.

                    1. re: Parsnipity

                      I never had one of lyndell's cannolis. I don't eat many during the year but when I do it's usually is one at Mike's. Lyndell's half moons are light and I don't think they use too much sugar. Their cupcakes are a ten as well.

                      1. re: libertywharf

                        For tasty and cheapish Italian, we've enjoyed the new Scugnizzi in Arlington as of late.