Boston’s North End is best known for its Italian heritage. And while you can find plenty of eateries making authentic Italian cuisine in this area, there are other just-as-worthy dining spots for pizza, pasta, and parmesan polenta.
The Best Italian Restaurants in Boston
If you’re hoping to taste some authentic Italian flavors on your trip, reserve a table at one of the 10 best Italian restaurants in Boston.
Search for Italian restaurants in Boston and you’re likely to find Giacomo’s. But instead of heading to the North End location with the rest of the tourists queuing outside the door (Giacomo’s doesn’t take reservations), head to the restaurant’s South End location. No matter what, hit the ATM for these cash-only spots.
Given Boston’s proximity to fresh seafood, Giacomo’s seafood-inspired dishes are some of the best. The zuppa di pesce, a dish intended for two, comes with lobster, shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams, and mussels over linguine.
Open since 1926, Regina Pizzeria is a North End institution. While the restaurant has several locations through the city and state, the North End location is where it all started. The brick oven pizza is even the “official” pizza of the Boston Red Sox.
The classic Margherita lets you taste the elements that made this pizzeria famous. The Meatball Pomodoro Fresco gives you a taste of Regina’s garlic sauce and its mouthwatering meatballs.
This legendary East Boston spot is another cash-only joint, but offers some of the city’s favorite pies. Toppings are simple and classic with options like chicken, broccoli, pepperoni, mushrooms, and sausage. Lamb skewers, steak tips, and homemade sausage are on hand for anyone not in a pizza mood.
There are Italian restaurants in Boston and then there’s Mamma Maria. Located in a 19th century row house, the eatery offers intimate dining among five private rooms. Floor-to-ceiling windows give you dining with a view of the cobblestoned North Square and the Boston skyline beyond.
New England ingredients make dishes like frutti di mare pasta and osso buco taste extra fresh. Save room for dessert creations like chocolate torte “della nonna” and blueberry tiramisu.
If someone tries to tell you all the best Italian restaurants in Boston are in the North End, they haven’t visited the city’s South End. James Beard Award-winning chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette have turned this enoteca into a neighborhood favorite.
The menu features a range of Italian small plates intended for sharing, like tapas. Start with a sample of salumi and formaggio before loading up on wood-oven roasted dishes like coda di maiale, pesce arrosto, and polpette. The bone marrow pizza and squid ink pasta are also worthy contenders for belly space.
For a modern take on Italian cuisine, head to Jamie Mammano’s Sorellina. Its gnocchi features Main lobster, while its maccheroncelli is topped with Feather Brook Farmers beef meatballs. Sides worth sharing include polenta with Parmigiano and truffle fries. The menu changes with the season to keep things fresh.
Take advantage of the restaurant’s complimentary car service, which will bring you anywhere within a two mile radius. It’s the ideal excuse to order a bottle from the Italian-focused wine list.
Meaning “counter service” in Italian, Sportello looks like a modern diner. James Beard Award winner and Chateaux Grand Cehf Barbara Lynch keeps the trattoria-inspired menu casual and seasonal. Homemade pastas are the city’s ultimate comfort food. Keep things simple with Tagliatelle and Bolognese sauce or go for the Strozzapreti with braised rabbit.
The weekday lunch prix fixe at $37 for three courses is well worth it, as is the $55 per person three-course, family style offering. Whatever you choose, save room for the cannoli.
Serene Republic of Venice, or SRV, is a Venetian-style Bacaro and wine bar. Cicchetti, or small bites, are at the menu’s core, but it’s hard to pass up pasta made from house-milled flour and made-to-order clam, octopus, or bone marrow risotto. The wine list is 100 percent Italian, and even the cocktails have an Italian influence.
At PICCO, the pizzas are the draw, but the ice cream may be what you remember most. Kick things off with a simple arugula greens or the spinach, beet, goat cheese, and walnut salad. If you want to try a little of everything, the restaurant conveniently offers small and large sizes for most of its dishes. Fettuccine alfredo with black truffle moliterno and the beef and pork meatballs are particularly good.
While you can make your own pizza, the recommended creations are some of the most flavorful combinations. The beer list features a range of New England brews, while the fairly priced wines skew Italian. Ice cream flavors vary, but don’t shy away from one-of-a-kind combos like prune Armagnac and vanilla candied grapefruit.
Most tourists think the best Italian restaurants in Boston are exclusively located on Hannover Street. But just a few steps from the main drag are even better options. One of these is Limoncello. Homemade pasta e fagioli, veal saltimbocca, and homemade cheese ravioli all taste like they were made in your Italian grandmother’s kitchen.
The Rosette Limoncello, the restaurant’s signature dish, features homemade wide noodles with prosciutto, Montassio cheese, mushrooms, and a tomato sauce with truffle oil. It’s one of those foods you’ll photograph, even if you’ve sworn never to be that person photographing food. The only way to end dinner? Homemade Limoncello.
– Original reporting by Kate Sitarz