Boston's North End neighborhood is where you'll find many of the best Italian restaurants in the city. You can't go wrong with any restaurant on Hanover Street, Salem Street and beyond, but there are a handful that rise to the top for various reasons.
Mamma Maria, located across the street from the famous Paul Revere House on the Freedom Trail, is known for a fine dining Italian experience and is great for special occasions. The menu changes every night, but it's known for their Osso Buco (veal) and Rabbit Pappardelle.
Bricco Ristorante & Enoteca
Bricco, located on Hanover Street, is where you'll find a wide variety of traditional Italian dishes and more. They make all of their pastas, breads prosciutto and sausages in-house. Even if you don't go to Bricco for dinner, be sure to stop by the bar for one of their espresso martinis. If you pay attention, you'll see the bartender making them over and over because they're so popular. Owner Frank DePasquale also owns Mare, Trattoria Il Panino and more. When you visit make sure you dress up; casual clothes are not allowed.
Tony & Elaine's
New to the North End from the owners of Ward 8 is Tony & Elaine's, located on the outer edge of the North End. This restaurant is old school Italian — think red and white checkered tablecloths, award-winning meatballs and chicken parmesan — but everything is elevated. The mozzarella sticks are incredible, as is everything else.
Giacomo's doesn't even has a website and there are no reservations, but it's worth the long line of a wait you'll see outside most nights. It's tiny inside, but the pasta dishes are delicious. If you don't feel like waiting, head to their South End location, which has a slightly expanded menu but doesn't have the traditional North End charm.
If you've heard of the North End, chances are you've also heard of the iconic Regina Pizzeria, arguably the best pizza spot in all of Boston. Take your pick off the pizza menu, order a glass of house wine and enjoy. You can also get takeout if you prefer to take it home. There are now plenty of other Regina locations throughout the city and suburbs as well.
La Famiglia Giorgio's
La Famiglia Giorgio’s is known for their huge portions of dishes that taste like they're straight from Rome, making it a great Italian restaurant for families and groups of people. Here you'll find all of the classics — lasagna, chicken parmigiana, pizza and more. They also have a long list of Italian sauces, including everything from traditional marinara to pesto and carbonara.
If you're into raw bars and lobster rolls, you'll want to check out Neptune Oyster, as it's known for both of those things. There's typically a wait to get into this small restaurant, but it lives up to the hype.
Vinoteca di Monica
Located near Hanover Street is Vinoteca di Monica, which also offers a variety of traditional Italian dishes and an extensive complimentary wine list. Monica's also has a well-known homemade pasta shop in the North End, which is the perfect place to pick up the goods to cook a true Italian meal at home.
Ristorante Fiore is in the heart of the North End serving authentic Italian cuisine, with two different options for dining outdoors. They have a garden dining area near their entrance, as well as the only rooftop deck on tony Hanover Street, a great place to enjoy food and drinks al fresco.
All pasta is made in-house, with must-try specialties like the bombolotti con aragosta e gamberi. Be prepared to indulge your palate; Fiore has one of the more extensive wine lists in Boston, with many hard-to-find varieties.
Mother Anna's Restaurant is the oldest family restaurant in the neighborhood (dating back to 1932), so they must be doing something right. Their patio is located right on Hanover and Cross Street, with views of the city, the park, and all the action the North End has to offer. There are many tables with umbrellas, to shade you on the hot summer days. They offer affordable pricing on their Italian cuisine, and plenty of wine and drink options, including the perennial favorites gnocchi Liliana and shrimp exquisito.
Trattoria Il Panino
Trattoria Il Panino serves Italian-Mediterranean cuisine inspired by the Amalfi coast region of Italy. It is one of Boston restaurateur Frank DePasquale’s most beloved restaurants, especially because of their outdoor patio area. You can even sit out there when cooler weather creeps in, since they just close up the tent surrounding the patio, and crank up the heat lamps. Try the pepita di cozze or if you're feeling adventurous, sample the baby octopus affogato.
While they don't have a traditional terrace or patio, Carmelina's has retractable front walls which open up during summer months for an open-air dining experience. The owners bill the fare as "traditional Sicilian comfort food. Try the pollo cardinale or the tonno con pesto Siciliano e fusilli, and be sure to check out their impressive list of domestic and international wines.
Co-owned by former Boston Bruin Ray Bourque, Tresca's lower level is known as Cafe 77, in honor of Bourque's jersey number. Fresca offers Tuscan-inspired dishes and has a small balcony for intimate dinner dates. The swordfish puttanesca and the agnolotti di zucca are perennial favorites, and its list of craft beers is definitely worth perusing.
This sophisticated oyster bar serves dinner every day and its cozy, lounge-style patio is perfect for a relaxing evening. Try the homemade gnocchi frutti di mare or the kampachi tartare for a taste of what this restaurant has to offer.