DANVERS – Brick oven pizza rotating by an open flame; Bolognese simmered slow and served over fresh pasta; and some of the best tiramisu this side of the North End. For Italian and more on the North Shore there is no place like The Barry Tavern.

Located in Danvers, The Berry Tavern is a welcoming spot perfect for any night out, whether it’s a family dinner, date night or an evening spent with friends. Owner Joe Bono is the force behind several Italian restaurants in Boston, and he decided to take all that North End know-how to the North Shore.

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Joe made the space warm and welcoming with rich woods, tin ceilings and a fun, friendly bar where you’ll usually find bartender Lee Merrill whipping up some of the best martinis around and offering suggestions from the part Italian/part Tavern style menu.

So, Phantom bellied up to the bar and tried it all in search of the PERFECT MEAL.

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Appetizers at the Berry Tavern range from old school to innovative. There is everything from time-tested Meatballs served in a slow cooked sauce with melted mozzarella and Tuscan bread, to Raviolis stuffed with pumpkin purée and served in a butter sage sauce with Romano cheese, to the completely addictive Tavern Wings.

“We roast all the wings. We don’t fry wings,” Joe said. “We marinate them just lightly. Comes with caramelized onions, house dressing on top. Meat falls off the bones.”

As good as those wings are, the must order app has to be the Shrimp Grand Marnier.

Shrimp Grand Marnier at Berry Tavern (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s a jumbo shrimp dipped in egg batter. We pan sear it, then finish it off with a triple sec orange liqueur with a little orange wedge reduced down to a glaze,” Joe described. “If you don’t like shrimp, you’ll be eating shrimp after this dish.”

“It’s basically like having French toast with shrimp,” Lee added. “That’s the only way I can describe it.”

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You can also order one of the Berry Tavern’s brick oven pizzas to kick off your meal. Each one of these pristine pies is fired up in a rotating oven set right in the dining room so customers can watch.

For a little bit of Southern style barbecue on a pizza order the Putnam, topped with pulled pork, red onion, barbecue sauce and mozzarella cheese. If you like chicken parm, go for The Joey pizza, named after Joe’s son. But if you’re more into garlic and shrimp, both Phantom and Lee recommend the pizza named for Joe’s daughter Victoria.

Victoria Pizza at Berry Tavern (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s basically like having shrimp scampi on a pizza,” Lee said. “I love shrimp. I love garlic. Sautéed tomatoes. It’s to die for.”

The entree section of the menu is lined with all of Phantom’s favorites. There are ultra-tender short ribs braised in Chianti and served over a Parmesan risotto; hearty Bolognese presented over house made pappardelle; and the light but flavor packed Salmon Picatta over mashed potatoes with grilled asparagus.

But Phantom loves The Berry Tavern’s traditional plate of Chicken Parm. This plate-tipping portion is enormous, served alongside a hefty portion of penne.

Chicken Parm at Berry Tavern (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“Everybody loves a good chicken parm,” Lee said. “The chicken is very tender. It’s not heavily breaded. The sauce is not overly sweet. It’s a huge portion.”

Once you have cleaned your plate, you are going to need something sweet, and thankfully the folks at The Berry do it right. There is the light and fluffy tiramisu layered with ladyfingers and cream, and a dense but delicious bread pudding topped with ice cream. Since Phantom is a known chocoholic, he always goes with the Chocolate Soufflé.

Chocolate Souffle at Berry Tavern (Image: Phantom Gourmet)

“It’s to die for,” Lee assured. “It’s ooey, gooey chocolate, and we serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s probably the most incredible chocolate yumminess you could ever get.”

Shrimp Gran Marnier. The Victoria Pizza. Chicken Parm. A Chocolate Soufflé. That is THE PERFECT MEAL at The Berry Tavern. You can find the Berry Tavern at 2 High Street in Danvers, and online at berrytavern.com.

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