Phantom Gourmet: Great 8 North End Restaurants

With its authentic Italian eats and old world charm, Boston’s North End may be the tastiest neighborhood in all of New England. These are Phantom’s picks for the 8 Greatest places to dine in Boston’s Little Italy.

Galleria Umberto

Kicking off the Great 8 is Galleria Umberto. It doesn’t get much better than this cash only, counter service spot on Hanover Street. But be advised, you have to get there early, because whenever they are out of their Sicilian pizza, panini, calzone, panzarottli and arrancini, they close the doors for the day.

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Mare

Just down an alleyway off of Hanover Street you’ll find Mare. This sexy spot has a space overlooking the Callahan Tunnel, where you can get all of your Italian staples – from hearty Wild Boar Pappardelle; Tagliatelle with fresh lobster, cherry peppers and shaved black truffles; and crispy whole bellied clams. But this Italian seafood spot really shines when it comes to lobster rolls, served on brioche that’s made fresh daily at their sister bread bakery Bricco Panetteria.

Strega

Another Great 8 winner is Strega. This neighborhood mainstay serves perfect pasta dishes, an over the top stuffed veal chop loaded with fontina cheese and prosciutto, and ultra-fresh seafood sourced same
day. But an Italian restaurant is only as good as its red sauce, and at Strega they claim theirs is the best in the neighborhood.

Vito’s Tavern

Vito’s Tavern on Salem Street brings a little something different to this Italian neighborhood, with a menu lined with all of your favorite American comfort foods. There are overstuffed burritos, overloaded nachos, a completely over the top burger, three kinds of fries, and six styles of wings with flavors ranging from traditional Buffalo, to garlicky lemon rosemary, to an atomic wing that will knock your socks off. But a must try are Vito’s Korean Style Wings. They are double-fried so they are extra crispy, and served with an addictive sweet and tangy sauce.

Crudo

Crudo on Salem Street is a stylish, modern, two level sushi spot where you’ll find soy sauce instead of red sauce, and udon instead of spaghetti. If you are looking for something to snack on while you sip some sake, there are over twenty so-called Social Plates on the menu, basically small, sharable Asian-style tapas.

Quattro

Another Great 8 winner is Quattro. Situated on the corner of Hanover and Parmenter Streets, Quattro is known for its Neapolitan style pizzas fired in a custom build Italian brick oven, and tender juicy meats slow cooked on a state of the art rotisserie.

Carmelina’s

A half a block away you’ll find Carmelina’s. Here you can feast on all of the family recipes of Chef/Owner Damian DiPaola who named the restaurant after his mother. Nothing on the menu shows the love more than Carmelina’s Sunday Macaroni. It’s a big bowl of rigatoni with tomato sauce, meatballs, sausage, short rib and a dollop of whipped ricotta. Available every night of the week, this is Italian American comfort food at its best.

Ward 8

Rounding out the Great 8 is Ward 8. Just on the outskirts of the North End, you’ll find this stylish spot with dim lighting, rustic wooden tables and an exposed brick wall bearing the restaurant’s name. Since it is so close to the TD Garden, it’s the perfect place to grab a bite before a game, with offerings like big juicy burgers, decadent mac and cheese, and their deliciously different Maple Chili Duck Wings.

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