Real Italian food is all about using fresh, simple ingredients, and preparing them with love. These are the 8 Greatest places Phantom gets an authentic taste of Italy, without the transatlantic flight.
Kicking off the Great 8 is Cinquecento in Boston’s South End. This contemporary yet comfortable restaurant is full of cool lighting, leather banquettes, a big bar, a state of the art wine tap system, and a world-class cappuccino machine that’s manned by an in-house barista. And everything on the menu is fresh, rustic and comforting, just like they do it in Rome.
Located on Mass Ave. in Cambridge, Giulia is a small Italian eatery housed in exposed brick, cozy booths and banquettes, and an open kitchen just feet from the tables. The menu follows the traditional Italian progression. You start with a small “sfizi”, like a one bite Semolina Cake that melts in your mouth. Then comes the antipasti like the irresistibly creamy Burrata cheese with charred peppers, golden raisins and pine nuts. From there it’s all about the pasta, rolled out and cut fresh all day. You can have mouthwatering Buccatini pasta with house cured pancetta, and incredibly fragrant hand-cut Pappardelle with wild boar and aged parmigiano.
Il Casale in Belmont and Lexington is the brain child of Chef Dante de Magistris, who has taken all of the favorite dishes from his family’s Italian heritage and brought them to the masses. You’ll find
everything from fresh pasta, to slow cooked meats, and even Italian street food.
Osteria Nino in the Third Ave. shopping plaza in Burlington has a gorgeous space sporting an active open kitchen, bustling bar and an outdoor patio with its own Tuscan-style wood burning pizza oven. But the plate you’ve got to try is the traditional Roman dish Caccio Pepe, authentically prepared with house made Tonarelli pasta, pecorino cheese and plenty of fresh cracked pepper.
At Nappi Meats in Medford, you always feel like family. That’s because the Nappi family welcomes regulars and newbies into their space as if it were their home. They crank out massive plates of some of the best homestyle Italian comfort food you’ll ever eat, like amazing hand-rolled meatballs, big plates of antipasti, fresh seafood, and mouthwatering Pork Chops with Vinegar Peppers. With so much fantastic food, you’d think the menu at Nappi must be enormous, but in another homestyle touch, there’s actually no menu at all.
Another Great 8 winner is Volturno on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester. They make authentic Neapolitan pizza, fired up in a wood burning Italian oven blazing at 900 degrees, allowing the pizzas to cook in just ninety seconds, which means each work of art requires the utmost attention.
Da Vinci Ristorante
Da Vinci Ristorante on Columbus Ave. in Boston is a romantic, refined restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine. Some of the most popular entrees include the deliciously plump, grilled half chicken with white wine and rosemary, crispy arrancini, and hearty Bolognese. But the must order menu item has to be the perfectly cooked Da Vinci Beef Tenderloin.
Rounding off the Great 8 is Pasta Beach with locations in Newport, Rhode Island and on Rowe’s Wharf in Boston. Everything from the oven to the cooks themselves came from Italy, so the food is as delicious as it is genuine, from their Spaghetti Pomodoro, to Linguine with shrimp and garlic, and the exceptional Neapolitan style Margherita pizza.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.