The Best Boston North End Restaurants
Wandering through the North End, Boston's oldest neighborhood, feels a bit like wandering through history. Here, cobblestone streets wind past buildings dating back to the 17th century, including Old North Church, where Paul Revere is said to have hung his lanterns to warn American Patriots that the British were coming. In the 1800s, it was the first stop for many Italian immigrants; generations later, it is known as Little Italy, and you can still hear Italian spoken in shops and on the streets.
It's no surprise, then, that most of the best North End restaurants are Italian. But as true aficionados know, "Italian" is too generic a term. Here, you can narrow down what type of food experience you want by region: Napoli, Sicily, Abruzzi, Lombardy, Piedmont, and so on. It's also home to two of the best seafood restaurants in Boston. And it tends to attract a lot of local and visiting celebrities. Get ready to enjoy and mangia.
63 Salem St.
Average entree $29
Eat This: Lobster Roll—a giant roll loaded with perfectly cooked lobster chunks topped in mayo or melted butter. Go with the butter. You won't regret it.
Unless you're there the second the doors open, you will likely wait about an hour for the chance to dine at one of the North End's most popular restaurants. Once inside the 42-seat oyster bar, you'll squish together with your friends, and if it's wintertime, you'll lament the bitter cold that washes over the entire dining room each time the door opens (and it opens a lot). But it will all be worth it once you bite into what has to be Boston's best lobster roll.
3 North Square
Average entree $32
Eat This: Osso Buco—braised veal shanks with creamy saffron risotto. It's not a fancy dish, but no one eating it seems to care.
This famed Italian spot has landed on pretty much every best-of list ever written about North End restaurants. It's revered not only for its Northern Italian cuisine, but also its gorgeous row-house setting illuminated by chandeliers. It's a bit more upscale than other spots in the area, but it's perfect for when you want fine dining accompanied by impeccable service.
114-116 Salem St.
Average entree $23
Eat This: Cioppino—giant clams, littlenecks, scallops, calamari, and mussels served on linguine drenched in sauce. LoConte's version of the Italian seafood stew overflows with seafood.
It is impossible to go to LoConte's and leave hungry. Everything here is supersized, and even the seafood dishes come overloaded with clams, calamari, and shrimp. Tasty, gigantic portions are exactly what you want when you go out for Italian, as is a softly lit, cozy atmosphere, so it's no surprise that LoConte's constantly bustles with activity.
11 1/2 Thacher St.
Average pizza $12.75 for a 10-inch
Eat This: The Giambotta—a mountain of pizza toppings settle on chewy, yeasty dough slathered in a slightly sweet sauce. It's one of the most popular offerings.
For many, the North End simply means a slice at Regina's, which has been serving up pies since 1926. Here, you'll wait in a line full of tourists and locals below the neon marquee. When you do make it inside, you'll devour brick-oven pies made using a recipe that is more than 80 years old. Though there are other branches, go to the North End outpost for the authentic Regina's experience.
283 Causeway St.
Average entree $25
Eat This: Capello del Dontadino (available Sunday)—a circle of rustic country bread baked over a plate containing three pastas covered in three sauces. It's a unique dish you probably haven't seen before.
Filippo is perfect for when you want truly authentic Italian. The owners actually live in a historical palazzo in the Abruzzo region of Sulmona for part of the year, so you can be quite assured that you're getting food that people truly eat in Italy. Filippo is also one of the more homey restaurants in the North End, with customers raving about the friendly servers.
289 Hanover St.
Slice of pizza less than $2 (cash only)
Eat This: Slice of Pizza—thick, Sicilian-style pan pizza served on a paper plate. It's a tasty, filling lunch that's cheaper than anything else in the North End.
Like most of the restaurants on this list, this no-fuss pizza joint attracts a long line of customers. This time, it's typically locals stopping by for a slice on their lunch break. Visiting at lunchtime is key because Galleria Umberto closes up shop by 2:30 p.m., and they've been known to sell out well before then.
323 Hanover St.
Average entree $22 (cash only)
Eat This: Black Pasta with Ground Squid—garlicky, oily squid-ink pasta. If you love seafood and garlic, this is your ideal dish.
Another North End restaurant, another line to wait in. But there's a reason there are so many lines to brave. Restaurants in this area tend to be both small and famed for their great food. This tiny seafood joint is no exception. In fact, Michelin-star chefs have been known to leave raving about this no-frills place. You and your one or two friends (seriously, don't try to come here with a giant group) will not regret anything you order.
24 Fleet St.
Average entree $32
Eat This: Polenta with Meatballs, Sausage, and Ribs—a satisfying stick-to-your ribs meal.
Prezza may seem like a classic North End Italian joint, but its food is a nice mix of the classic Abruzzi cuisine the owner's grandmother grew up eating and more contemporary dishes. Plus, Prezza's chef is a wood-grill master who excels at cooking meat. The restaurant also has a daunting wine list with more than 900 types of wine, but the waiters are happy to help you zero in on something.
190 North St.
Average entree $27
Eat This: Rosette Pasta—housemade wide noodles with prosciutto, montassio cheese, mushrooms, and a truffle tomato cream sauce. This delicious dish with pretty rose-shaped noodles has lots of fans.
What sets Limoncello apart from many other North End restaurants are two things: it's pretty spacious, and it lets you make reservations. So if you have a bigger group, it's probably your best bet. When you're here, you're going to want to do what Robert De Niro did when he ate here and order the famed rosette pasta. Don't forget to end your evening with a glass of housemade limoncello, an Italian tradition.
300 Hanover St.
Eat This: Chocolate-Chip Cannoli—crunchy shell, sweet ricotta filling, and chocolate chips. You can't go wrong with this delicious classic.
You'll want to order all of the nearly 20 cannoli flavors at this world-renowned pastry shop, and you should definitely get a few. But don't forget to try one of Mike's other pastries while you're there, perhaps a slice of Boston cream pie or a lobster tail. And definitely bring friends—the pastries are large. Plus, you'll want someone to chat with while you wait in the long line.
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