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Best Italian Restaurant in North End

I only have one night in Boston and have decided on dining in the North End. I am looking for a good, authentic Italian restaurant but am having trouble deciding. Any suggestions?

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  1. My favorite in the North End is Prezza. Great wood-grilled meats and house made pastas. Also pretty solid bartending for the North end.

    1. Do yourself a favor and go to Rino's in Eastie, worth the diversion and a short ride from the NE.

      1 Reply
      1. re: treb

        But almost impossible to get into.

      2. Daily Catch, if you like seafood.

        1. define italian. do you want old-school red sauce or something more modern?

          2 Replies
            1. re: Buddie7491

              For old school red sauce in the North End there are about 75 restaurants all with pretty much the same menu and more or less hit or miss on any specific night. I lived in the NE for about 10 years and tried pretty much every restaurant, one night the place is great, the next night sucks. That being said for red sauce my go to's are Locontes, Antico Forno and Massiminos. For a slightly different spin Maurizios can be very good.

          1. The best Italian isn't in the North End at all. Try Erbaluce.

            12 Replies
              1. re: Beachowolfe

                "My great-great-great-grandparents emigrated from Avelino in 1890, so I know Italian food. The answer is Shhhhtrega. You can feel the love."


                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I've had some decent meals at Shtrega and the atmosphere at the Seaport location isn't even that bad. No worse than any cheesy steakhouse. It's nothing special, but not horrible. Certainly you could find some other place to constantly dumpout on. Or, at least focus on the food, right?

                  Unless this is like the other time you trashed a restaurant because of the hospitality group that was behind it. In that case, we get it dude... you think Nick Varano sucks.

                  1. re: Beachowolfe

                    have never been to a steakhouse that shows video of the owner gladhanding d-list celebrities on a giant screen ALL DAY AND NIGHT.

                    was forced into a meal at the strega waterfront and their red sauce was so thin and acidic i couldn't get even a few bites into the dish. blech.

                    i'd go to il panino on parmenter.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      I've taken out-of-towners to Strega and they've loved it! I think the food is fine. However, it is the Pasquale's to Draghi's Paradise.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        I think the TVs are only in North End location, right? Agreed that the whole atmosphere there is ridiculous. Though, I think I got to watch Goodfellas instead of a glad-handing video. I was saying that the Waterfront location atmosphere isn't THAT bad, and not much different than a cheesy steakhouse.

                        For the record, there was a tequila ice luge the first time I went to Del Frisco. Not much better, if at all. (I like Del Frisco, though)

                        I hadn't noticed the sauce issues but if you feel that way it's a valuable contribution. Seeing the follow up from the OP, Il Panino is a good choice. I'd likely retract the Mamma Maria rec. Maybe toss out Piccolo Nido or Maurizios.

                        Not sure who Slim was referring to w/ the ancestors comment, but I've never made claims to that, and can't even think of a time i've seen such a comment on CH. Maybe he's just more of a Yelper, I see it there quite often.

                        1. re: Beachowolfe

                          tvs at the waterfront too and it's visual cacophony cuz they're screens on top of screens playing different things. ugh. practically makes me motion sick.

                          as best i can see it, the waterfront del frisco's is the steakhouse for the strega demographic.

                          1. re: Beachowolfe

                            The Seaport location's bar is a giant wall of TVs -- it recalls a Vegas sports book -- and there are smaller TVs at eye level, looping mob movies, around the perimeter of the dining room.

                            The ancestors crack wasn't aimed at anyone in particular here. But I have heard it a million times: "I'm Italian" (meaning your family came here in the 19th century) "so I know Italian food", followed by a recommendation of a place serving food that few contemporary Italians would recognize as traditional.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              i am MOAR italian, since my peeps arrived in the 20th century. :)

                              plenty of that over at home cooking, but thankfully absent on this board.

                            2. re: Beachowolfe

                              Been meaning to get back to Piccolo Nido for the grilled squid and crespelle appetizers.

                          2. re: Beachowolfe

                            I don't think Nick Varano sucks. He's a perfectly nice man to his customers, and his success in building a restaurant empire is admirable. I've eaten at most of his restaurants a few times, so if I'm commenting on the food, it's with first-hand experience. (My main feeling: it's uneven, mostly not terrible, and all overpriced.)

                            I do think his marketing ranges from worthy of ridicule (the mawkish, third-rate Sopranos-wannabe shtick) to reprehensible (the Strip By Strega billboard), and it's so ubiquitous, it keeps bringing itself back up. If you're tired of that, maybe you should just skip my posts.


                      2. re: nsenada

                        buddy wants old school red sauce. You won't find that at Erbaluce. Two different dining beasts.

                      3. I second the recommendation on Mamma Maria.

                        It's a gorgeous restaurant, excellent food, has valet parking and the service is impeccable.


                        1. I'll have to reword, apparently the last comment got some tempers flaring. Too bad, the hilarity that ensued from Nsenada's follow up is now lost for all eternity. Sad face.

                          How's this, Peter?

                          "Cue the people who choose to ignore the OPs previous decision to dine in the North End handing out Erbaluce recommendations. I suggest Mamma Maria for good Italian in the North End"

                          1. I think I'm going to go with Panza. It seems like it is the closest to what I'm looking for.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Buddie7491

                              Panza is a good choice. It is loosely related to Giacamos across the street that always has a huge tourist book line 1/2 hour before opening and the other giacamos in the south end. If you're hankering for fried, try the calamari with a side of marinara. Mussels are great either marinara or fra diavolo. And if you are in a seafood mood I am sure they would serve you a frutti de mare pasta dish with a mild or spicy sauce. I do like veal picatta with extra capers and hold the artichokes over linguini - and there is nothing healthy about it.

                              And I agree with phatchris. One night you may have the best veal parm of your life at any given restaurant and when you return - meh. It's a roll of the dice with mostly talented south american line cooks preparing italian american oil and butter laden comfort food.

                              1. re: Bellachefa

                                have only been a few times to panza, but i thought it was good and less schticky than many others in that hood.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  I agree. We just took my wife's out-of-town colleagues there, and everyone liked their dishes, although I found the arugula pesto to be a bit too sharp/bitter for my taste.

                            2. Went last night for the third time this year, and one of my choices for the best old school red sauce place in the North End is Limoncello Ristorante.

                              My other choice would be Pagliuca's Ristorante.

                              Limoncello I consider a little more upscale traditional old school. Nice room, manageable potions, and decent wine selection, and Pagliuca's with much larger portions (realy good value), simple room, and I doubt you'll fine anything interesting for wine.

                              Both of these places have and continue to serve me well!

                              1. I might have discovered one of the most old school NE establishments last Friday. We dined at Filippo's on the tip of the North End, on Causeway facing the Zakim Bridge. Very roomy in comparison to most places we've eaten, very old school waitstaff that absolutely made our night with her stories and anecdotes and top notch service (Thank you, LuLu!). Menu is very red-sauce Italian with the usual suspects. Standouts were the Calamari app (same if not better than Giacomo's) and the fried mozzarella - YUM). We had a party of 8 and from the moment we walked in we were treated like VIP's (and we are so not...) and that means something to me. I observed everyone in the place receiving the same excellent service. We picked this place because we were going to the garden and its close proximity but I will gladly make this one of my first choices from now on, its worth the walk over from Hanover/Salem.

                                1. In no particular order and for various reasons: Assaggio, Prezza, Artu, Panza.

                                  1. Limoncello in the n end and Antonio's just outside in the west end are my picks

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: gregoryswil

                                      Nobody's mentioned the Monica's: Vinoteca di Monica or Trattoria di Monica. I've had good meals at both. Not considered good enough?

                                      1. re: gregoryswil


                                        Antonio's which is not in the NE is our go-to when we want red sauce

                                      2. I've always had success @ L'Osteria on Salem St. Limoncello is ok too as is Artu on Prince St. Enjoyed Euno as well, but others disagree.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: carneyvore

                                          I've never had a good meal at L'Osteria, and I've had 6 with different group sizes from 4 -12 dining with me. Lots of people seem to like it, so maybe my timing and my dinner companions timing has been off, but thy were some of the least enjoyable meals I've had in the NE. Their success and people who praise them have to count for something. Unfortunately, I've yet to witness it. I'm sure in the near future I will be invited back for a celebration, but am at a loss of what to order.

                                        2. We took a tour of the North End with a woman who's lived there for more than 40 yrs. she gave us the "low down" on the restaurants to avoid. The ones she recommended have been great and two that we really love are Atru's on Price St. and Antico Forno on Salem St. (Which by the way is frequented by one of Boston's celebrity chefs.)

                                          1. Not really red sauce but a great enoteca with delicious Italian food is Carmen Trattoria. Make a reservation there are not many seats.

                                            1. Massaminos on Endicott St

                                              1. Panza has the best marinara sauce in the city and the mussels marinara along with crusty iggy's bread is an awesome dish.

                                                6 Replies
                                                1. re: Poonky

                                                  Interesting! Panza doesn't get a lot of mentions here.

                                                  Who do you think has the second and third best marinara in the city?


                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    I've mentioned Panza a number of times here. Who do you think has the second or third best marinara?

                                                    1. re: Bellachefa

                                                      All the others are a distant second. Of course, that's my opinion. You may have a different one. I've had most of them in the North End and beyond.

                                                      1. re: Poonky

                                                        I was hoping slim would reply, since he seemed to take a dark tone on your suggestion, which I think is a good one.

                                                      2. re: Bellachefa

                                                        Not having sampled a comprehensive swath of the marinaras in town, I would be reluctant to nominate a best, or second-best, or third-best. I'm just curious to know more when first-time posters come in raving about a place that doesn't get much attention here, since I don't have much else to gauge their preferences on. Hopefully Poonky will continue to post here, so I can get a better sense of what his/her sensibilities are.


                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          The marinara at A4 Pizza served with the garlic knots is as good as I've had.

                                                  2. For upscale, northern Italian, it is definitely Mamma Maria - recently dined there and was reminded just how much I love it - one of the best osso buco offerings I have ever had - anywhere - and all dishes were creative, delcious, perfectly seasoned, and beautiful to look at - other standouts were tuna tartare starter, uni crab pasta app, lobster pasta app, and the seafood fra diavolo (NOT what you expect, but amazing!) - great service - desserts were not enticing to me and the cheese plate needs improvement, but the kitchen is firing on all cylinders right now and I want to go back soon just for the osso buco (with perfect risotto Milanese) - wow.