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Neptune Oyster
Photograph: Courtesy Neptune Oyster/Ana M. Reyes

The best restaurants in the North End

No neighborhood offers as many dining choices as the North End; these restaurants are the ones to seek out

By Gerrish Lopez and Time Out Boston Staff

With close to 100 places to eat, Boston’s North End is the densest dining neighborhood in all of New England. Walk just a few blocks in this historic, Italian-accented district and you’ll encounter a cornucopia of tempting eateries and cafes. Several of the best Italian restaurants, best seafood destinations, and best pizzerias in Boston can be found here. The biggest challenge is figuring out where to go, and battling all the crowds. After an eating tour of the North End, burn it off with one of the best things to do in Boston.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Boston

Best restaurants in the North End

1. Neptune Oyster

Restaurants Seafood North End

Neptune Oyster has been one of the city’s most in-demand options for fresh local seafood since opening in 2004. It has a simple, retro interior and an excellent selection of seafood. There’s always a wait out the door, but it's worth it. Sample from the extensive oyster list that features local varieties such as Wellfleets, Cotuits, Island Creeks, and Glidden Point, or try the renowned lobster roll. Pair with a cold glass of white wine and you’re in oyster heaven.

Photograph: Courtesy Terramia

2. Terramia

Restaurants Italian North End

Terramia has served elevated Italian fare since 1993. Try creative, seasonally-inspired interpretations of Italian classics, or stick with excellent versions of standbys spaghetti con pomodoro and the signature open-faced ravioli served with sea scallops, shrimp, fresh zucchini, and lobster Mascarpone reduction. The cozy, candlelit space—filled with paintings of the Italian countryside—is usually packed, so reservations are highly recommended.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kia C.

3. Taranta

Restaurants Italian North End

The southern Italian-Peruvian fusion fare here is not just a novelty. The restaurant is consistently exciting, yet warm and relaxing. Try cultural crossovers like yuca gnocchi with lamb ragù or pork chops with sugar cane and rocoto pepper glaze. The wine list covers the same range, from Sicily, Campania and Apulia to Argentina and Chile.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/John K.

4. Prezza

Restaurants Italian North End

Get a robust steakhouse experience with the intimacy of neighboring North End trattorias at Prezza. Both dealmakers and romantics head here for expertly wood-grilled meats alongside delicate, hand-made pastas.

Mare Oyster Crudo and Seafood Bar
Photograph: Courtesy Mare

5. Mare

Restaurants Seafood North End

Part of North End restaurateur Frank DePasquale’s local empire, this acclaimed seafood restaurant and oyster bar is known for its crudo menu. Enjoy fresh seafood and local oysters on the sleek patio that has fire pits and a retractable roof (making year-round alfresco dining possible). The menu also features a variety of Italian-accented seafood dishes and a few non-seafood options (chicken, pork, veal, steak) for the seafood-averse.

Pizzeria Regina, Restaurants and cafes, Boston
Photograph: Elan Fleisher

6. Pizzeria Regina

Restaurants Pizza North End

The oldest pizzeria in town still serves up a great brick oven pie and a pitcher in a classic setting, with well-worn booths and framed celebrity headshots. The atmosphere is loud and boisterous, and the pizzas are hot and fresh. Be prepared for a wait, as pizza-loving out-of-towners know to go here first. 

Galleria Umberto
Photograph: Courtesy Creative Commons/Flickr/dewmike

7. Galleria Umberto

Restaurants Pizza North End

Regulars line up at this nondescript, old-school North End takeout joint as early as 10:30am. They know not to risk missing out on delectable, super-cheap Sicilian slices and arancini. Even diners waiting for a table at nearby restaurants have been known to grab a slice while they wait, so Galleria Umberto usually sells out. It’s cash only, but at these prices it’s not a problem.

Antico Forno
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Antico Forno

8. Antico Forno

Restaurants Italian North End

Antico Forno is a genuine trattoria, expertly upholding Italian-American traditions. From eggplant rolls to rigatoni with sausage to thin-crust pizza, everything coming out of the brick oven is a winner, especially if its oozing with ricotta and tomato sauce. Pastas are impressive, especially the pillowy gnocchi.

Daily Catch
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Amy C.

9. Daily Catch

Restaurants Seafood North End

Daily Catch exudes the character of the 'old' North End. It's a tiny kitchen nook with a blackboard menu, beverages served in juice glasses, and skillets that double as plates. The calamari served here is exceptional, with plenty of options - fried, stuffed, marinated and chilled, chopped and pressed into delicious meatballs. Other highlights include squid ink and garlic-laden linguine.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Danah W.

10. Giacomo’s

Restaurants Italian North End

Giacomo’s is one of the most popular restaurants in all of the North End. Crowds hungry for classic Italian fare line the sidewalk at any given time. Portions of pasta and other favorites are large and inexpensive, as the restaurant cuts down on all frills and remains cash-only.

Ristorante Fiore
Photograph: Courtesy Ristorante Fiore

11. Ristorante Fiore

Restaurants Italian North End

Fiore might be best known for its rooftop bar, a European café/tiny sports bar of sorts. Classic Italian fare is served for lunch and dinner, alongside an extensive wine menu. A Margherita pizza and a glass of wine are a perfect pair for enjoying the breeze and observing the neighborhood from above.

boston, north end
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Justin P.

12. Tony & Elaine’s

Restaurants Italian North End

This retro North End eatery is inspired by the nostalgic Italian-American red sauce joints of the '60s and '70s. On the menu you'll find all of the classics: chicken parmesan, spaghetti Bolognese, lobster ravioli, and more. In terms of authentic Italian-American eateries, Tony & Elaine's aims to hit all the marks, even down to the red and white checkered table cloths.

Il Molo
Photograph: Courtesy Il Molo

13. il Molo

Restaurants North End

Meaning The Pier in Italian, il Molo is located near the North End waterfront. The seafood-focused menu features fresh, locally-sourced seafood. Dishes are inspired by the Mediterranean, New England Coast, and further afield. Unlike most of the neighborhood spots, il Molo has a more contemporary vibe, with a cozy fireplace for romantic dates.

North Square Oyster
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/John B.

14. North Square Oyster

Restaurants Seafood North End

North Square Oyster—steps from the Paul Revere House, overlooking the oldest public square in America—is a cozy gem, serving fresh local oysters and an impressive selection of natural wines. The romantic environs are perfect for a first date or secret rendezvous.

Photograph: Courtesy Tenoch

15. Tenoch

Restaurants Mexican North End

Another non-Italian restaurant that shines in the North End, Tenoch is known for its torte, the traditional Mexican pressed sandwich. The sandwich’s meat or vegetarian base is topped with Oaxaca cheese, chipotle mayo, onions, avocado and tomatoes. Tacos, quesadillas, and burritos are on the menu as well, along with Mexican sodas.

Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Ksenia S.

16. Crudo

Restaurants Japanese North End

As a Japanese restaurant located in the Italian-centric North End, Crudo is an oddity. But this glam, two-story space is a popular spot for sushi and sake. Creative dishes include a diced tuna taco and the Cru-OH! Lasagna maki (baked California roll with cream cheese, scallops, mayo,and eel sauce), but there are plenty of classic pleasures, from the udon to the poke to the pork buns.

Bova's Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jody W.

17. Bova’s Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries North End

Bova’s opened in the North End in 1932 and has remained a family-owned business since then. Baked goods include a wide range of breads (including seasonal varieties such as Easter bread), pastries, cookies, tarts, cakes, and pies. For something more substantial, try fresh-baked calzones, subs, or Sicilian pizza. Best of all, Bova’s is open 24 hours a day.


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