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Chances are, when you think of Boston, you’re thinking of Little Italy, Boston. Cobbled streets, waterfront promenades and historic buildings define this neighborhood that’s better known to locals as the North End, which was also the first neighborhood in the city.
Formerly a bastion of Revolutionary War soldiers, then an Irish district and now a hub of Italian culture and cuisine, the North End in Boston is much more than just spaghetti and meatballs. With so many ristorantes, cafés, pizzerias and pasticcerie packed into only one square mile, it’s hard to narrow it down, but we’ve picked some of the best Italian eateries in Little Italy, Boston to get you started.
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Explore the Best Restaurants in Little Italy, Boston
With food tours in Boston, you will have the opportunity to discover the best of Boston’s North End Italian restaurants as you wind your way through a maze of cobblestone streets and narrow brick alleyways.
Embarking on a food tour is one of the best things to do in Little Italy, Boston and one of the best ways to explore the North End. You’ll learn all about the culture and history of this iconic neighborhood as you explore both popular and warm and cozy restaurants. Led by the best guides in the city, you’ll avoid tourist traps, discover spots only a local food expert would know about and leave having eaten some of the best food in Little Italy, Boston.
Of course, if you’d rather do your own exploring, you can’t go wrong with any of the 17 iconic eateries listed below.
Best North End Italian Restaurants
1. Mamma Maria
Its name may suggest red-sauce casual, but this townhouse restaurant in Little Italy, Boston is quite the opposite. With a focus on refined Italian fare, the menu at this white-tablecloth establishment showcases a bounty of locally-grown foods through seasonal and regional Italian dishes.
Though the menu frequently changes, you can expect to find dishes like suckling pig, rabbit pasta and osso buco. Mamma Maria is also the only Italian restaurant in Boston to receive a AAA Four Diamond Rating.
Mamma Maria | 3 N. Square, Boston, MA 02113 | $$$
via Mamma Maria
Carmelina’s is the result of Chef Damien DiPaola marrying a traditional Sicilian background with modern taste. The result: creative dishes like the Sunday macaroni, which includes a medley of meatballs, Sulmona sausage and beef rib, an ahi tuna arrabbiata appetizer and a baked fish special that changes every day.
This restaurant in Little Italy, Boston also has retractable dining room walls, which make for pleasant al fresco dining in the summer months.
Carmelina’s | 307 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
3. The Daily Catch
The original North End location of The Daily Catch has been cooking up simple Sicilian-style seafood dishes and pasta since 1973. The tiny one-room restaurant in Little Italy, Boston has an open kitchen, plastic wine cups in lieu of stemware and skillets that double as plates.
Daily specials can be found on a chalkboard wall, though its homemade squid ink pasta and golden, greaseless calamari are the must-try dishes.
The Daily Catch | 323 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
via The Daily Catch
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4. La Famiglia Giorgio’s
The Giorgio family has been churning out hearty portions of Roman classics at reasonable prices since 1990. Here, it isn’t uncommon to hear patrons muse about the food being better than Nonna’s.
This restaurant in Little Italy, Boston features 10 types of homemade pasta in more than 20 different preparations. Favorites range from the spicy frutti di mare to the tender eggplant Parm with fresh marinara sauce.
La Famiglia Giorgio’s | 112 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
via La Famiglia Giorgio’s
Giacomo’s is one of the most popular restaurants in all of Little Italy, Boston. Expect a line on the sidewalk at any given time, such is the draw of large portions of pasta that cost little.
The famous zuppa di pesce — a platter piled high with linguine and a seafood medley of lobster, shrimp, calamari, scallops, mussels, clams and your choice of sauce — is the best deal in the house.
Giacomo’s | 355 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
Expertly wood-grilled proteins compete for attention with delicate, handmade pastas at this stalwart in Little Italy, Boston. Prezza’s standout dishes, inspired by the peasant-style cooking of Chef Anthony Caturano’s ancestral village, include the Ravioli di Uovo, wood-grilled squid and octopus and veal porterhouse.
The extensive wine list, boasting more than 6,000 choices, ensures there’s something for every dish, while the minimalist dining room keeps the focus exactly where it should be — on your meal and your company.
Prezza | 24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$
Recently renovated and gloriously over-the-top Strega is filled with black tufted banquettes, glitzy chandeliers and photos of charismatic owner Nick Varano hobnobbing with celebrities.
The Sicilian-born and -trained executive chef at this restaurant Little Italy, Boston puts a twist on Italian staples by using novel ingredients and unexpected sauces while still serving enough of the classics to rival the rest of the neighborhood.
Strega | 379 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
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Bricco is the mainstay property of neighborhood restaurateur Frank DePasquale and has a well-executed menu of pastas and classic Italian entrées alongside indulgent steaks and surf and turf. The restaurant’s breads, fresh pastas and imported meats are sourced from DePasquale’s own old-world panetteria and salumeria next door.
Bricco also boasts one of the few late-night menus in Little Italy, Boston, offering a selection of antipasti and pizza until 2 a.m. on weekends.
Bricco | 241 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$
via Depasquale Ventures
Also part of North End restaurateur Frank DePasquale’s local empire, this acclaimed seafood restaurant and oyster bar in Little Italy, Boston is known for its crudo menu, which includes a massive shellfish tower.
The menu at Mare also features a variety of Italian-accented seafood dishes (and a few non-seafood options for landlubbers) all of which can be enjoyed on the sleek patio featuring fire pits and a retractable roof.
Mare | 223 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$
via Mare Oyster Bar
This special-occasion eatery in Little Italy, Boston offers an air of prestige, complete with a mahogany bar and stained glass windows.
And with culinary inspiration derived from executive chef Yoni Alcantara’s regular trips to Italy, the menu at Lucca is equally elevated with dishes like duck confit, lobster fra diavolo, white wine and saffron-bathed mussels with house-baked focaccia and baked orecchiette with fontina.
Lucca | 226 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$$
11. Al Dente
Al Dente is classic Italian-American dining stripped down to the bare essentials. The menu is expansive, offering cuisine from Sicily, Calabria and the northern regions of Italy.
Neighborhood residents seeking relief from their own kitchens as well as tourists strolling off the Freedom Trail come to this restaurant in Little Italy, Boston for heaping plates of underpriced pastas bathed in well-fortified sauces that can be paired with gently priced wines.
Al Dente | 109 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
12. Mike’s Pastry
Mike’s Pastry has been drawing crowds of cannoli-craving hopefuls to its storefront in Little Italy, Boston since 1946. Mike’s features nearly 20 different flavors of il cannolo, as they call it, piped into crunchy, fried pastry shells, and dusted with powdered sugar.
If you’re not a huge fan of cannoli, you sample any of the biscotti, lobster puffs, cream puffs or macaroons on the menu.
Mike’s Pastry | 300 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $
via Mike’s Pastry
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13. Bova’s Bakery
Bova’s Bakery opened in Little Italy, Boston in 1932. Since then, this family-run establishment has maintained its reputation as one of the best bakeries in the area.
Baked goods include a wide variety of breads, pastries, tarts, pies and cookies. For something more “substance” and less “sweet,” try the homemade calzones, sub sandwiches or Sicilian-style pizza. Best of all? Bova’s is open 24-7.
Bova’s Bakery | 134 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $
via Bova’s Bakery
Best North End Pizza Places
14. Galleria Umberto
This lunch-only, mom-and-pop pizza establishment founded in 1974 serves up some of the best pizza in the North End, Boston. Priced for a different decade, a cheese-smothered Sicilian-style pizza goes for under $2 a slice and plump calzones go for around $5.
The James Beard Foundation named Galleria Umberto amongst its 2018 American Classics Awards, honoring regional restaurants cherished by their communities.
Galleria Umberto | 289 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113 | $
via Galleria Umberto
15. Ernesto’s Pizza
Ernesto’s is known throughout Little Italy, Boston for its super-sized 18-inch pies, which are often argued to be one of the best in Boston. This casual, counter-service spot has garnered a legion of loyal fans for its authenticity and selection.
Choose from Italian classics like the Caprese and bianco, or Americanized classics like barbecue chicken, Hawaiian and cheeseburger.
Ernesto’s Pizza | 69 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $
via Ernesto’s Pizza
16. Antico Forno
Opened in 1996, Antico Forno offers the archetypal restaurant experience in Little Italy, Boston.
As the name implies (antico forno is Italian for “ancient oven”), most everything on the menu at this Salem Street classic gets baked in some way, but it’s best known for its chewy thin-crust wood-fired pizzas topped with housemade sausage. The arancini, or Italian rice balls, are another hit.
Antico Forno | 93 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
via Antico Forno
17. Regina Pizzeria
Ask anyone where to find the best pizza in Little Italy, Boston and they’ll most likely say Regina’s. Family-owned and operated since 1926, Regina’s specializes in a secret-recipe brick-oven pizza made with a spicy-sweet sauce and housemade mozzarella.
The extensive menu covers just about any pizza topping you could think of, and an assortment of affordably priced beers and wines provides plenty of options that won’t bust your budget.
Regina Pizzeria | 11 Thacher St., Boston, MA 02113 | $$
via Regina Pizzeria
Little Italy in Boston is perhaps the city’s most iconic dining district, and for good reason. Its character is not only well-preserved but also lovingly tended to, creating a neighborhood where throwback red sauce joints mingle with modern takes on Italian cooking, like lobster ravioli sauce and cheeseburger pizza.
Whether you take a food tour or opt to explore the locations on this list, you’re bound to experience the best of Little Italy, Boston and see what this perennially popular neighborhood has to offer.
For even more ways to explore exciting cuisines, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.