People come to Boston for many reasons: to soak in the rich history at one of Boston’s many museums, to glide across Boston Harbor on a ferry, even to catch a Redsocks game at Fenway Park. What people don’t typically travel to Boston for is Boston’s very own “Little Italy”
(step out of the way Little Italy, NYC!). However, we’re here to tell you that you are totally missing out if you don’t take a visit to Boston’s own Little Italy during your trip.
Boston’s “Little Italy” or the North End is actually Boston’s oldest neighborhood. It’s well known for its Italian food and feasts. You can walk down the cobblestone streets and see dozens of eateries, mostly Italian, lining the streets - anything from loud restaurants with singers or tiny spaces with just a handful of tables for intimate, candlelit dinners. Here’s a list of our favorite restaurants big and small, loud and quiet, in Boston’s very own Little Italy. After your meal, remember to check out Hanover Street, the North End’s Main Street, to grab an espresso or gelato just like they do in Italy!
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307 Hanover St | North End | carmelinasboston.com
If your tastebuds are craving a twist on tradition, you should check out Carmelina’s while you’re in the North End. Chef DiPaola transforms old family recipes into modern Italian cuisine with equal parts fresh pasta and seafood, creating dishes in the likeness of Sicilian comfort food with a Mediterranean twist.
Carmelina’s is recognized in Yelp’s 7th Annual Top 100 Places to Eat list, but if that’s not all the encouragement you need, we’ll give you a glimpse of the menu.
Featured dishes include Tonno Siciliano, slices of rare ahi tuna, sautéed cherry tomatoes, pistachio pesto, served with fusilli and Frutti di Mare, large shrimp, calamari, clams, and mussels in a light fragrant tomato sauce with capellini (also available as risotto frutti di mare).
“Amazingly tasty every time. Our favorite North End spot. All the fresh pastas are fantastic. Favorite dishes are the Puttanesca, anything with their fusilli, and the mushroom pasta though it rotates on and off the menu.” - Yelp Review
323 Hanover St | North End | thedailycatch.com
If you dine here, you may wind up eating black pasta out of a pan. Say what?
Their Black “Squid Ink” Pasta Aglio Olio is famous among locals and newcomers alike. And the pan? Well that tradition was born out of necessity. They had no plates when they first opened, and now the pan captures the lasting memory of where they started and how delicious the pasta tasted then and now!
Other featured menu items include Monkfish Marsala, tender medallions of monkfish simmered in a sweet marsala wine and butter sauce with mushrooms, and Lobster Fra Diavolo, 1-1/4 lb lobster, calamari, littlenecks, mussels, and shrimp simmered in their spicy signature seafood tomato sauce served over linguine.
“Spot on food and excellent customer service! We ordered the Clam Casino, Calamari Platter, and the Mixed Shellfish Pasta. Everything was delicious and tasted fresh! Our server was amazing as well. Overall, we were very impressed with the atmosphere, food and service!” - Yelp Review
355 Hanover St | North End | giacomosboston.com
This family-owned and operated establishment is a fixture of the North End neighborhood. They serve traditional Italian dishes as well as excellent variations on their country’s most well-known dishes.
You can begin with a Lobster Bisque or Roll (you are in Boston after all) and then dive into a Homemade Fusilli served with lobster-meat and shrimp and your choice of sauce (because you can’t get enough of the lobster). Or you can stick to something more traditional like a Shrimp Linguine.
Keep in mind that it’s cash only, and be sure to check online for the daily specials before you go!
“You might think you cannot finish [the dishes] but they are so good that you will! You have a range of sauces available to pair with your pastas, we had the Giacomo and the mixed Sauce and both were very very good. Highly recommend.” - Yelp Review
3 North Sq | North End | mammamaria.com
Set in a 19th century row house with five private dining rooms, you already know this dining experience is going to be unlike any other. Not only is the setting one to marvel at, but the way they showcase the bounty of foods grown and raised in New England through seasonally appropriate regional Italian dishes is something to marvel at as well.
Try their Rabbit Pasta with slow-cooked small farm Sonoma rabbit in the Tuscan-style with pappardelle pasta, crispy pancetta, and fresh rosemary or opt for the Ossobuco, pasture-raised veal osso buco with saffron risotto carnaroli alla Milanese.
“The food was absolutely incredible. I went with my boyfriend for our anniversary and our waiter, Mario, treated us like royalty. I could not say enough nice things about this restaurant!” - Yelp Review
112 Salem St | North End | lafamigliagiorgios.com
With the aim of recreating the atmosphere of family-style dining at their Nonna’s, the family behind La Famiglia Giorgio’s treats all of their customers like family. That’s why they cook everything to order the old-fashioned way.
They have a huge menu with everything from pasta and veal to burgers and pizza. We recommend the Pumpkin and the Lobster Ravioli! They also have plenty of gluten-free and vegetarian options.
If you’re up for a challenge, you can select from the Lasagna, Meatballs and Sausage, Chicken Parmigiana, and Lil Al’s challenge on their menu and if you can finish the plate they will give you a t-shirt that says, “I ate the plate!” But be warned, it’s one big plate, and many have tried and only few have succeeded!
“Every Italian dish you could imagine is on the menu. Just like we remembered, super great food and huge potions. Barely ate 1/3 so had leftovers for days. La Famiglia Giorgio's is more than great food - it's like eating with family.” - Yelp Review
24 Fleet St | North End | prezza.com
Prezza is an Italian Restaurant named after the ancient town in Italy where Chef Anthony Caturano's grandmother was born. Nestled in the mountains, the tiny village offered its people few choices in their diet. That’s where the idea of peasant-style cuisine in a refined setting came from.
Today, it has become an area “stalwart” according to The Boston Globe and a local favorite. Stop in for braised short ribs, gnocchi a la bolognese, and ravioli di uovo stuffed with ricotta and a soft egg yolk. Don’t forget to pair your meal with a glass of wine from an offering of over 6,000 wines and more than 600 labels.
“This was a spectacular and authentic fine dining experience. Boston has so many excellent Italian restaurants, but Prezza was highly recommended and holds its own in nearby competition! Another thing to add is the extensive drink menu! I hope to be back.” - Yelp Review
241 Hanover St | North End | bricco.com
If you are seeking a fine dining experience, look no further than Bricco. Offerings include artisanal pasta, certified angus beef and chops, and octopus.
We love that they have a late-night menu that runs from 11:30 pm until close on Fridays and Saturdays because sometimes the day just slips away from you and you still want to go out for a fancy meal!
Be sure to browse the wine and cocktail list in advance, there’s so many options to choose from it might take you some time to decide what you want.
“Love this spot! Definitely one of my favorites in the North End, and the staff is always super friendly. I think the portions/prices are alright for most of their pasta dishes, but the most bang for your buck is definitely the gnocchi and it's super delicious!” - Yelp Review
63 Salem St | North End | neptuneoyster.com
“...with the exception of Fenway, [Neptune Oyster] has the most coveted 37 seats in all of Boston more than a decade after it opened in 2004.” - Bon Appétit
This isn’t an Italian restaurant, but this oyster bar makes some top-notch Italian dishes with seafood that we couldn’t fail to include on this list!
The raw bar serves Neptune Plateau, Oysters, Shellfish, Sea urchin, Octopus, and more, and as for the Italian dishes, they offer Lobster Spaghetti and Black Ink Risotto on Mondays and Fridays, respectively.
Be prepared to wait 2+ hours for a seat at this tiny oyster bar. But don’t worry, they call you once your table is ready so you’re free to walk around and explore the neighborhood in the meantime.
“We heard this place was THE place to go for lobster rolls, so we knew we had to come by. The lobster was really fresh and, although expensive, so worth it. This place gets a lot of hype, but it was worth it!” - Yelp Review
111 N Washington St | North End | tonyandelaines.com
If you want down to earth Italian, we’re talking Spaghetti and Meatballs, Chicken Parm, Penne Vodka, and the like, Tony & Elaine’s is just the spot.
With an old school vibe both indoors and out, you will feel comfortable, cozy, and happy as you enjoy your favorite classic pasta dishes. But don’t think that just because this place isn’t upscale that the food isn’t some of the best in Boston. Tony & Elaine’s was named Winner for having North End’s Best Meatball!
Remember every Wednesday and Thursday are Cheap Date Night at T&E! You and a guest are invited to enjoy a three course dinner for two for just $49.99!
“Loved it here! Great homemade Italian food. When we were searching in the north end for good Italian we wanted something cute and homemade feeling. This was it. Being small it sure packs a good punch in how good the food is.” - Yelp Review
190 North St | North End | ristorantelimoncello.com
Owner Maurizio Badolato made his mother Concetta’s meatballs famous when he first opened Ristorante Limoncello.
Today, they offer meatballs and much, much more! Try the Lobster Ravioli and the Rosette Pasta, and be sure to grab a cannoli for dessert!
“We had an incredible lunch here. During our visit to the North End we tried several Italian places but this one was our favorite! I had the lobster ravioli and my husband the squid ink pasta. Both were wonderful. I highly recommend.” - Yelp Review
226 Hanover St | North End | luccaboston.com
Lucca is fine Italian dining, but with a focus on seafood thanks to a good relationship with the local fishing community providing them with the best seafood the East Coast has to offer. Get the Pei Mussels and Lobster Bisque to start, and then order the Pan-Seared Sea Scallops for your entree - you won’t regret it. There are also still many options for the non-seafood lover, like the Baked Orecchiette.
“On our trip to Boston my wife and I ate at several amazing restaurants but the one that topped the list was Lucca's. It's a beautiful restaurant in Boston's North End and the service was just as fantastic as the food.” - Yelp Review
283 Causeway St | North End | filippori.st
This cozy bistro serves Italian dishes with a focus on the Abruzzo region of Italy, their specialty being red-sauce classics. Renaissance-style wall art accompanies the delicious food, making it more than just a dinner - it’s an Abruzzo experience.
“It was FANTASTIC. We started with the calamari, which was very very fresh. Everyone had thumbs up with their dishes. Great atmosphere, too. We would definitely go back when in town.” - Yelp Review
257 North St | North End | piccolonido.com
This quaint spot is nestled in the heart of the North End, away from the hustle and bustle of traffic. Here you will find hearty portions of homemade pasta, as well as good service and even better Italian wine. We highly recommend the Spaghetti Chitarra "Amatriciana," homemade spaghetti chitarra sautéed with fresh light tomato sauce, Italian bacon, onions, pecorino cheese, and a splash of red wine.
“I have been going to this restaurant for 26 years and Pino and his staff are the most attentive and GENUINE folks outside of southern Italy I know. From the time you arrive, you are treated as a valued friend.” - Yelp Review
30 Fleet St | North End | lasumma.com
Inspired by the Italian cooking of her grandmother, Crocefissa Barbara Summa, owner Barbara Summa Sullivan opened La Summa Cucina Italiana to serve dishes inspired by the various regions in Italy. Their Fresh Baked Manicotti is to die for, so be sure to try it if you go!
“Their espresso martini was fantastic. We ordered the chicken parm and the pasta spinaci for dinner and they were both some of the best pasta dishes we've had. I would definitely recommend this restaurant.” - Yelp Review
147 Endicott St | North End | mangiamangia.business.site
This Italian spot is a sub shop, Italian restaurant with pasta dishes, and even a breakfast sandwich spot! If you’re here for dinner, we recommend the Eggplant Parm. If you’re here for breakfast, get a bagel or pancakes!
“Great little hole-in-the-wall spot for lunch in the north end! Great sandwiches, great pasta, even serve breakfast! You can eat inside here socially distanced; and it's never packed. Clean, and the owner is super nice!! Makes everything himself.” - Yelp Review
4 Columbus Ave | Back Bay | locations.maggianos.com
Maggiano’s Little Italy has been serving authentic classics learned from grandmothers, mothers, and aunts who cooked with their hearts since the early 90s. Their family-style Italian American cuisine will have you feeling as if you just entered an Italian nona’s house. The delicious foods Maggiano’s serves are combined with a warm atmosphere and friendly service. They also serve very generous portions!
“My husband and I were visiting Boston recently as part of our honeymoon trip and we came upon Maggiano's Little Italy and the food and service was amazing!!! Our server was amazing and Mr. Gregory Soutter was amazing as well. They surprised us with a little dessert plate as a congratulations of our marriage. Definitely recommend stopping by if your in Boston.”–Yelp Review
11 Parameter St | North End | trattoriailpanino.com
Trattoria Il Panino is Boston’s first original trattoria. They serve traditional Italian cuisine that is made with only the freshest ingredients. They make all their pasta homemade, and when you visit, you get to try delicious options like trombella al pesto, Mom’s lasagna della casa, and risotto del Giorno. They also offer house specials like salmone arrosto, lamb Scottadito, and bistecca. This is a restaurant you definitely won’t regret visiting!
“I don't have words to describe how delicious my meal was here. Tortellini is always my go-to for Italian restaurants, but this was next level. And same for the espresso martini--the best I've ever had. The service and the outside seating were great!”–Yelp Review
346 Hanover St | North End | cantinaitaliana.com
Cantina Italiana is an iconic Little Italy restaurant. It first opened back in 1931, making it the oldest restaurant in Boston’s North End. They serve some of the best homestyle Italian American cuisine in the region, and they do it in a charming and relaxing atmosphere.
“Mmmmmm so good. We had two dishes. Bolognese and pesto and wow such a treat. The noodles were super yummy and fresh and the homemade sauce was full of meat and I loved it a lot. Service was great and the servers were super friendly. Great spot and I will be back.”–Yelp Review
93 Salem St | North End | anticofornoboston.com
Antico Forno strikes the perfect balance between downtown Southern Italian food and down-home cooking. Its name translates to ‘old oven,’ and most of the food is made in a burning brick oven. Because of that, everything they make is covered in a crispy, caramelized sauce, everything from the fresh dough to the homemade sausage and the lamb dishes.
“We had a delicious and delightful lunch at Antico Forno. We enjoyed the Gnocchi and also some linguine with calamari. Both wonderfully saucy and flavorful. Our server Dona was friendly and made excellent menu suggestions. We loved sitting in the open window too. Highly recommend it.”–Yelp Review
109 Salem St | North End | aldenteboston.com
Al Dente serves authentic Italian cuisine that comes from every region of Italy. The menu is filled with Italian specialties made with chicken, veal, pasta, and more. Al Dente even lets you into the kitchen! With their open kitchen concept, diners get to watch as their food is made while they sit and enjoy their time in cozy and comfortable seats.
“Been here twice. Got emotional once I got here the second time thinking about my food arriving at the table. Vodka Sauce and Pesto are quite literally tear inducing. Wear big pants.”–Yelp Review
Boston's North End is more than just the historic neighborhood where Italian immigrants settled way back in the day. It's still home to some of the best Italian food, seafood, and all-around food in the whole city. We hope you found a new favorite on our list today!
Be sure to tell us in the comments which of these Little Italy restaurants is your favorite after your next visit to the North End!