Where to eat: North End of Boston

15 Jul

Hi Amy-

Love New England Eating. Saw that you like “Where should I eat boston-northendrequests,” so here we go: I’ve been working in the North End for seven years, and I’ve been eating at the same places for far too long (Jeff at Neptune has slapped a restraining order on me). What are some of your favorite hidden gems in the North End that I might have overlooked?—Scott Cohen

Hi Scott!

Neptune is probably my single favorite restaurant in the North End, but it’s a tricky neighborhood. I lived there for years and had plenty of of bad gravy and overcooked saltimbocca. There are several bright lights, however:

Marco, Marc Orfaly’s restaurant with Lorenzo de Monaco is a great hideaway—it’s up on the second floor at 253 Hanover, above Cafe Paradiso—and a favorite for two things: the pastas, particularly filled pastas (ravioli, etc.), and the fireplace—a rarity in these parts, and a great option for a romantic winter retreat. Which, I assume is not what you’re looking for in an after-work hangout, but still…

As for lunch, have you tried the Porchetta sandwich at Artu? Or the Favorito, with fresh mozz, prosciutto, tomato, basil and olive oil (strike the prosciutto and it’s a Primavera—also good). Those are some fine sandwiches. This isn’t my favorite spot for dinner, but a great mid-day alternative.

Carmen is the little neighborhood cutie—petite, friendly, nice to look at. I adored it when it first opened in 2001 under Bill Bradley, and still have an abiding affection, particularly for the little plates of marinated olives and the crespelle (crèpes) with porcini.

The gnocchi at Antico Forno are my idea of the perfect comfort food. Skip the pizzas, but do try those gnocchi at least once. Also—on those summer nights when the crowds spill out on to the streets? You can often get a walk-in table here and they don’t soak you with overpriced penne.

Did you know that the pizzas at Regina only achieve true greatness when ordered “well-done?” Well, now you do.

If you want to do a business dinner without leaving the hood, try Prezza, where Anthony Caturano has tacked on some protein+grill+starch+veg entree combos that’ll keep the suits happy. The steakhouse stuff isn’t my favorite—I prefer it when he pulls out the rustic Italian dishes that first inspired the restaurant (which is named after the town in Abruzzo where his grandmother was born). But it’s solidly done, and he’s probably smart to offer chops and steaks in a scaloppine part of town.

Lastly (whew), if you’re looking for a drink and a bite after work, head to Nebo, where both the apps and wine lists are long and very good. Skip the pizza—it hurts to say that—but try the skillet-roasted mussels with cream, tomatoes, and white wine.

UPDATE: I knew I had forgotten someone! It’s Taranta, Jose Duarte’s great fusion feast, combining Southern Italian and Peruvian flavors (Peruvian food is, in itself, a fascinating mix of Spanish, Japanese, Italian, French, and other eclectic influences, so this isn’t as odd as it may sound). Definitely worth a try.

I’m also hoping to visit Pomodoro soon. I loved it when it first opened, then found it lacking a few years later, but need another visit to suss out what I hear is a revitalized menu.

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3 Responses to “Where to eat: North End of Boston”

  1. Scott Cohen July 16, 2009 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks Amy!

  2. AZ July 17, 2009 at 8:26 am #

    Any thoughts on where to eat dessert? Lots of restaurants in the North End don’t serve it, right?

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