The Best Restaurants in Little Italy in Boston

December 6, 2021
Food & Drink
jason wolfe
Yelp

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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1. Carmelina’s

Sicilian comfort food with a Mediterranean twist.

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).

Purchase a GiftYa for Carmelina’s here!

“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

2. The Daily Catch

Serving Sicilian seafood and pasta since 1973.

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.

Get a GiftYa for The Daily Catch here!

“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

3. Giacomo’s Ristorante

Family-owned and operated restaurant serving traditional Italian dishes.

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!

Purchase a GiftYa for Giacomo’s Ristorante here!

“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

4. Mamma Maria

“The North End is filled with Italian restaurants, but this one is different from the rest” - so says The New York Times.

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

5. La Famiglia Giorgio’s

Hearty family portions from the heart of Rome.

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!

Get a GiftYa for La Famiglia Giorgio’s here!

“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

6. Prezza

Peasant-style cuisine in a refined setting.

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.

Purchase a GiftYa for Prezza here!

“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

7. Bricco

Contemporary boutique Italian cuisine. 

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.

Get a GiftYa for Bricco here!

“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

8. Neptune Oyster

Tiny, high-end oyster bar.

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.

Get a GiftYa for Neptune Oyster here!

“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

9. Tony & Elaine’s

Old school atmosphere and down to earth dishes.

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

10. Ristorante Limoncello

An authentic Italian experience specializing in Insta-worthy outdoor seating and meatballs.

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

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!

11. Lucca Restaurant 

Fine Italian dining specializing in seafood.

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 

12. Filippo Ristorante & Functions

Cozy bistro with red-sauce classics.

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

13.  Piccolo Nido

Hearty portions of homestyle Italian.

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.

You can purchase a GiftYa for Piccolo Nido here!

“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 

14. La Summa

Family-owned hidden gem.

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!

You can purchase a GiftYa for La Summa here!

“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 

15. Mangia Mangia North End

Italian sub shop with pasta restaurant.

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

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!

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