Best Boston Italian Restaurants

Where to find the top Italian food in Boston

If you're visiting Boston, Italian restaurants should be at the top of your dining destination list.  Why?  Simple - Italian food in Boston is the best!

This guide highlights some of Boston's best Italian restaurants in a variety of neighborhoods and price ranges.

Boston pizza

Boston Italian restaurants represent almost every region of Italy . . . southern Italian, northern Italian, Sicilian, Piedmontese.  

Combine these cuisines with Boston’s fresh seafood, locally-grown vegetables and herbs, premium meats . . . and of course, excellent wines and other beverages . . . and you have a recipe for memorable meals.

Although many people associate Boston's North End neighborhood with Italian restaurants - and you can find dozens of wonderful places to dine there - you'll find plenty of wonderful Italian food served throughout the city.

And don't forget Boston pizza - a local passion.

Boston pizza

Boston pizza may be thin crusted or deep dish . . . drenched in olive oil or just touched with it . . . topped with only a little garlic and mozzarella, or covered with creative and unexpected combinations.

Buon appetito!

 

Top Boston Italian Restaurants by Neighborhood

 

Back Bay

Davio’s  

Davio's Northern Italian restaurantDavio's Northern Italian steakhouse blends traditional favorites with some of the best steaks, chops, and fish in the city, plus a wine list that everyone will enjoy.

If you love Italian cuisine, you'll want to focus on the pastas that sport some of the best sauces in Boston.  Both vegetarians and vegans will appreciate the numerous offerings showcasing the freshest local and regional vegetables.

The lunch menu adds panini and pizza.  Long known as a popular place for power lunches, Davio's also offers "Davio's To Go" behind their kitchen, tucked away in an office lobby space at 10 St. James Court.   More about Davio's

Piattini Wine Cafe

This popular neighborhood spot on Newbury Street serves up small plates of delicious, freshly made Italian specialties.  With great wines by the glass and affordable prices, you'll find a lot to enjoy here.  And that's even before you try the delectable desserts.   More about Piattini Wine Cafe

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Boston Italian restaurants in Beacon Hill

Antonio's Cucina Italiana  

This popular Boston Italian restaurant features Roman-style cooking - so you can enjoy treats such as homemade fucili carbonara, gnocchi al forno, artichokes margarita, ciopino, veal braciolitine marsala. 

Antonio's Cucina - Boston Italian RestaurantMy personal favorite?  Probably the classic Italian eggplant parmigiana.

The small but well-chosen wine list perfectly accompanies the food choices. Tables are also small and close together, adding to the old-world atmosphere.  

Although Antonio's is quite popular with locals, its location at the edge of Beacon Hill near Massachusetts General Hospital and Government Center puts it slightly off the usual path for most tourists . . . so if you discover Antonio's Cucina Italiana, you'll enjoy a real Boston treat!

Address:  288 Cambridge St
Nearest T station:  Red Line/Charles-MGH
For more information:  617-367-3310, www.antoniosofbeaconhill.com

Figs

Figs - Boston Italian restaurantSmall and casual but warmly inviting, this Boston Italian restaurant and bar created by famed local chef Todd English serves some of the best gourmet wood oven pizza, salads, and pasta in the city.

If you order pizza, you may want to try Figs' signature fig and prosciutto on one half and something else—perhaps calamari and arugula—on the other half.

Figs' salads are also delicious. . . especially the dressings, which I always try (unsuccessfully) to duplicate as soon as I get home.

A nice wine and beer list rounds out the offerings at these comfortable Beacon Hill and Charlestown neighborhood locations.  

2 locations:
  - Beacon Hill
- 47 Charles St; Red Line/Charles-MGH; 617-742-3447
  - Charlestown - 67 Main St; Orange Line/Community College; 617-242-2229
For more information: website

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Ways to Save at Boston's Italian Restaurants

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Grotto 

This tucked-away spot must be one of the most un-promising looking restaurants in Boston from the outside . . . but once you're inside, you'll realize you've happened upon a special place.   You'll enjoy the great ambiance inside this popular Boston Italian restaurant near the State House.  Exposed brick walls and atmospheric lighting enhance the perfectly cooked Italian classics and Italian-American wine list. 

Grotto Restaurant in Boston's Beacon Hill / Boston Italian Restaurants - www.boston-discovery-guide.com

If you're exploring the downtown section of the Freedom Trail or visiting the State House or Beacon Hill, seek out Grotto.  It's the perfect place to relax over a great meal after a day of sightseeing - although unless you know where Grotto is, it's easy to overlook.  You'll find mostly Boston locals, as it's a bit off the usual tourist path and its exterior doesn't give much of a hint about how good it is. 

During the evening, Grotto is a popular spot for romantic dinners and celebrations.

Address:  37 Bowdoin St, east side of State House, Beacon Hill
Nearest T station:  Red Line/Charles-MGH
For more information:  617-227-3434

 

Panificio Bakery/BistroPanificio Bakery Bistro - Boston Italian Restaurant

Panificio, a favorite Boston Italian bakery/bistro on Beacon Hill, serves freshly made food using mostly local and New England products. 

In addition to being a full-fledged bakery, Panificio offers breakfast items such as eggs, French toast, fruit, and muffins, and lunch choices of salads, sandwiches, and great deep-dish Sicilian pizza, whole or by the slice. 

The simple bistro-style dinner menu changes nightly.

My personal favorite?  

A slice of the deep-dish pizza with iced coffee in the summer or hot chocolate in the winter - and a seat at the long counter looking out onto Charles St., one of the best people-watching spots in the city.  

Although when lobster rolls made with local lobsters trapped off Marblehead appear on the menu as a "special," I can never resist!

Address: 144 Charles St. between Revere and Cambridge St, Beacon Hill
Nearest T station:  Red Line/Charles-MGH
For more information:  617-227-4340, http://panificioboston.com

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Charlestown

Olives - CLOSED

Update:  A May 2010 kitchen fire caused Chef Todd English's flagship Olives to close... and rumors of a reopening proved false.  Look for a Legal Sea Foods in this space at some future time ... at least, that's the current rumor.

Address:  10 City Square
Nearest T station:  Orange Line/Community College
For more information:  617-242-1999

Figs 

Nobody does unusual flavor pairings as well as Todd English, and even though Figs has been a Boston classic forever (or so it seems), the fig and prosciutto pizza still gets raves.  Pizzas here are huge, so take advantage of the option for having one combo on one side, and something different on the other.  Terrific salads, too - the Boston bibb salad with walnut oil dressing is a personal favorite. 

The menu also features about a dozen dishes involving pasta, chicken, fish, or meat - simple ingredients, expertly prepared.  Everything I've ever ordered here has been excellent - although I usually stick with the fabulous pizza, or an appetizer such as the Prince Edward Island mussels paired with a salad.

This Figs restaurant is tiny - just a few tables, plus some seating at the bar - so make a reservation and arrive on time if you don't want to wait.

Address:  67 Main Street, Charlestown; website
Nearest T station:  Orange Line/Community College, or take the Inner Harbor Ferry to the Charlestown Navy Yard and walk from there.
For more information:  617-242-2229

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Downtown - Theatre District

Ostra  

Chef Jamie Mammano (Mistral, Teatro, Sorellina, Mooo) focuses on contemporary Mediterranean seafood at Ostra, so in addition to Italian cuisine, you can also enjoy Spanish and French along with steak and lobster.

Address:  1 Charles Street South (near Stuart Street), Park Plaza area
Nearest T station:  Green Line/Arlington

 

Downtown - Leather District

Sorriso

Sorriso, a stylish and sophisticated Boston Italian restaurant in Downtown's trendy Leather District features brick oven pizza, rustic Italian cuisine focused on local seasonal specialties, and a full bar—making it a popular place for lunch and after work drinks followed by dinner.

But don't let “rustic” fool you - even simple-sounding menu items like Prince Edward Island mussels, fried zucchini blossoms, the dinner plate of local farm vegetables are perfectly prepared.

Ditto for some of the more innovative dishes . . . the local corn gnocchi with Maine lobster and porcini mushrooms . . . the grilled rib eye steak with almond and gorgonzola salad and truffled fried potatoes . . . the swordfish steak with caponata, raisins, capers, and pine nuts.  

You'll love how Sorriso’s food celebrates the best local ingredients, prepared so that you’ll think about the flavors in new ways.

Address:  107 South St, Downtown-Leather District
Nearest T station:  Red Line/South Station
For more information:  617-259-1560, www.sorrisoboston.com

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Downtown - Park Square

Via Matta

Via Matta features Italian regional cuisine that relies on fresh, top-quality veggies, meats, and fish – all creatively prepared. Innovative pastas are also delicious.  The menu changes daily at this very popular Boston Italian restaurant . . . tantalizing choices will cause you to want to eat too much, and return again and again.

Via Matta also a separate bar menu . . . and a very nice wine list.

Address:  79 Park Square, Downtown - Park Square
Nearest T station:  Green Line/Arlington
For more information:  617-422-0008; website

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Fenway Park Italian Restaurants

Canestaro's

Canestaro's Restaurant and Pizzaria near Boston's Fenway Park serves classic Italian favoritesLoved by Red Sox fans, Boston Symphony goers, and neighborhood residents alike, Canestaro's serves especially delicious versions of great Italian classics - comfort food like Italian wedding soup, caprese salad, mouth-watering calzones, shrimp scampi, stuffed shells, and a variety of subs, wraps, and charbroiled burgers. 

But I'll warn you - the pizza is so good that you'll have a hard time ordering anything else.  The remedy?  Come here often, and eat your way through the menu. 

More about Canestaro Restaurant

Trattoria Toscano

Trattoria Toscano is almost a "hidden secrets" restaurant, known mainly to locals, with authentic Tuscan food such as wild boar and Florentine-style tripe.  Sauces are rich with red wine and deep flavorings.  Must-tries include the chicken liver with crostini, and the rigatoni with a sauce made from ground sausage and mascarpone cream.

Seek out Trattoria Toscano when you have worked off a few calories in advance (easy to do if you spend an hour walking around the nearby Museum of Fine Arts or Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, or cheering the Red Sox at Fenway) - and expect a deeply satisfying dining experience that transports you to the Italian countryside.

Address:  130 Jersey Street (near Park); Fenway
Nearest T station:  Green Line E/Museum of Fine Arts
For more information:  617-247-9508

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Boston Italian restaurants in the North End

Trattoria Il Panino

Photo of the Daily Catch in South Boston waterfront - deck-side dining area overlooking Fort Point Channel

Trattorial Il Panino (11 Parmenter Street, just off Hanover in the North End) specializes in Amalfi Coast Italian cuisine.  Come here to enjoy pastas, shellfish, and in the summer, glorious outdoor dining.

Nearest T station:  Orange, Green Line/Haymarket
Reservations:  617-720-1336; www.trattoriailpanino.com

The Daily Catch

Locally known as “the calamari place,” the 6 or 7 tables in the North End location of the Daily Catch, a small family-run Sicilian place, are almost always packed with happy diners.  The Daily Catch specializes in the very freshest seafood - especially squid (calamari).   Italian-style dishes are cooked to order and many are served in iron skillets.

Photo of the Daily Catch in South Boston waterfront - deck-side dining area overlooking Fort Point Channel

Despite the tempting fish and other shellfish choices, I love Daily Catch's fried calamari with lemon so much that I always order that . . . but bites from family members' skillets prove that everything is delicious.   Their black pasta, tinted with ink from the squid, is always a huge hit.

Daily Catch is a great place to go if you want to relax over a leisurely meal and don't mind waiting if a table isn’t immediately available.   You'll also have more fun here if you have a relaxed attitude about service - think of The Daily Catch as basically home-cooking from your great aunt's kitchen, meaning that you'll get your food when it's done. 

Here are a couple of tips for how we usually get a table quickly at Daily Catch: go with a total of 4 or fewer people, and avoid the busiest times, like noon - 2pm or 6 - 8pm.

Address:  323 Hanover St, North End
Nearest T station:  Orange, Green Line/Haymarket
For more information:  617-523-8567; www.dailycatch.com

La Famiglia Giorgio

If you want to experience classic Southern Italian comfort food, just like your mom makes if your mom's Italian, you'll want to visit La Famiglia Giorgio in Boston's North End.

You'll find all the traditional favorites - lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, an antipasto that's a meal by itself, pasta e fagioli, chicken marsala, veal saltimbocca - plus fabulous pizza.  And then there's the pasta, with over 20 difference choices of sauce, each one too delicious to resist.

Portions are large, prices are low . . . and a nice touch is that Giorgio's gives students and teachers a 20% discount when they show their ID. 

Address:  112 Salem St; North End
Nearest T station:  Orange, Green Line/Haymarket
For more information:  617-367-6711; www.lafamigliagiorgio.com

Mamma Maria

Mamma Maria - Boston Italian RestaurantDo your Boston travel plans include enjoying a romantic dinner?  Celebrating a special event?  Clinching an important business deal?  Impressing your pretentious oenophile brother-in-law?  Or simply creating a memorable Boston evening?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes," Mamma Maria is the perfect Boston Italian restaurant choice – and one of the best restaurants in Boston.

The delicious and innovative Northern Italian food uses the freshest local ingredients.  Just to give you a brief taste, imagine roasted fennel and red pepper soup with pan-seared Nantucket Bay scallops . . . slow-roasted duckling over house-made fig and Gorgonzola ravioli . . . local Massachusetts cod with a braised medley of Maine lobster, calamari, and risotto.

And as a bonus, Mamma Maria has one of the best wine cellars in the city.

Hours:  Dinner only
Address:  3 North Square (near Paul Revere's house), North End
Nearest T station:  Blue Line/Aquarium
For more information:  617-523-0077; website

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North End Italian Bakeries

Italian Pastries in Boston's North EndWho can resist Italian pastries?

Without a doubt, the North End has the best in Boston . . . plus, you'll find plenty of choices among the neighborhood's many wonderful Italian bakeries/cafes.

Everybody has his/her own opinion about which of these North End bakeries is the best.  You'll even hear heated discussions about their merits.

But here's the "insider" tip - they're all terrific - but should try them all and decide for yourself!

You'll get to select from incredible arrays of goodies . . . cannolis (pastry tubes filled with sweet ricotta cheese) . . . aragostas (“lobster tails”—pastry filled with whipped cream) . . . sfogliatelles (flaky, slightly crispy cream-filled pastry fans that look like clam shells).

But don’t worry about the names.  Just pick out what you want, and point.   Then order an espresso, a cappuccino, or a hot chocolate to go with it.   Perfection!

Here are 3 North End bakeries to try:

Maria's Pastry $

Maria's Pastry Shop in Boston's North End serves authentic Italian pastries46 Cross St; 617-557-4925

Maria's Pastry serves authentic Italian cakes, pies, cannoli, breads, and pastries. 

In nice weather, you can site outside or take your goodies and perhaps a cup of coffee to a table or bench on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a few steps away. 

In less pleasant weather, sit inside and enjoy the pleasant family-like atmosphere.  (But exercise self-control and don't go back for seconds too many times!)

Mike's Pastry 

Mike's Pastry - Boston North End300 Hanover St; 617-742-3050; www.mikespastry.com

Lots of tourist guides mention Mike's Pastry, but don't worry that it's some sort of tourist trap - it's not! 

Like other North End Italian bakeries, it's a neighborhood favorite.  Although Boston visitors do stop by - who can resist the chocolate cannoli? - you're as likely to see local neighborhood residents enjoying their expresso and perhaps reading a book or answering e-mail on a laptop at the small marble-topped tables.  Or stopping by for loaves of freshly baked bread and fragrant anise-scented cookies to take home.

Modern Pastry

You'll find some of the best cannoli in Boston at Modern Pastry in the North End257 Hanover St; 617-523-3783; www.modernpastry.com

At times, lines snake outside the door of Modern Pastry as happy customers wait to get their specially ordered cakes and pies. 

A tempting assortment of pastries for immediate consumption ensures that the few tables, like those at other North End bakeries, are almost always filled.  In the on-going debate about where you'll find the best cannoli in Boston's North End, Modern Pastry usually ranks high on the list.

Where you find the best cannoli in Boston?  You'll have to spend some time visiting North End bakeries and decide for yourself!

Closest subway to all: Orange and Green Lines/Haymarket.  Walk across the Greenway to the North End. 

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Boston Italian restaurants in the West End

Scampo

Scampo, an attractive brick-walled restaurant inside the Liberty Hotel, features rustic Italian-inspired cuisine with an occasional touch of India and sports both a wood-fired pizza oven and a tandoor.

The nice thing about the dinner menu created by Lydia Shire, one of the city's great Boston Italian restaurant chefs, is that you can opt for a fairly simple meal—perhaps choose the white clam and bacon pizza or the spaghetti Bolognese or even a perfect risotto with fresh peas and couple your choice with an arugula salad. 

Or, you can order a more substantial entree such as the cherry charred duck or poached lobster or on Friday nights, the oven-roasted suckling pig.  

The carefully chosen wine lists features mainly French and California selections.

If you love casual dining, well-prepared hearty food graced with garlic and olive oil, and fabulous breads, you'll adore Scampo.  And if you also love lush desserts . . . well, Scampo will be at the top of your list.

On your way out of the restaurant, be sure to walk through the Liberty Hotel's lobby and admire the amazing restoration.

Address:  215 Charles St in the Liberty Hotel, West End
Nearest T station:  Red Line/Charles-MGH
For more information:  857-241-1150; www.scampoboston.com

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Bay Village

Erbaluce

This stylish Bay Village restaurant near the Theatre District, Park Square, and the Public Garden serves up contemporary Italian food with a Piedmontese influence. 

Come here for fresh fish, organic meats, and regional specialties such as wild boar and buttery bottarga (pressed cured tuna or mullet roe).  Chef Charles Draghi makes his sauces with vegetable purees rather than butter or cream sauce, so you get tons of flavor without the calories.

Food, wine, and ambiance here is special - and you can enjoy a quick stroll through Bay Village's picturesque lanes with gas lights and Federal architecture before or after dinner.

Address:  69 Church St
Nearest T station:  Green Line/Arlington
For more information:  617-426-6969; www.erbaluce-boston.com

Viga

Office workers love Viga, a carryout-only favorite, even though it is only open for a few hours around midday during the week and not at all on weekends.

Photo of Viga in Boston's Bay Village neighborhood
Noon-time line outside Viga, Bay Village location

You'll understand Viga's popularity if you try their selection hot or cold sandwiches, creative wraps, pasta, freshly made salads, and pizzas, available whole or by the slice.   And their freshly-made Italian calzones may be Boston's best.

3 Locations: 
   Bay Village:  304 Stuart St at Columbus Ave; Green Line/Arlington; 617-482-1113
   Downtown Boston: Pi Alley, 275 Washington Street, (right on the Freedom Trail); Blue, Orange Lines/State; 617-742-8446; also 291 Devonshire St; Orange, Silver, Red Lines/Downtown Crossing; 617-482-1113

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South Boston Waterfront

The Daily Catch

Photo of the Daily Catch in South Boston waterfront - deck-side dining area overlooking Fort Point Channel

This is a 2nd location for the North End's Daily Catch - right on the South Boston waterfront overlooking Ft. Point Channel and part of Boston Harbor.  It's just across the Moakley footbridge, so it's quite convenient from South Station and the Financial District.  In warm weather, terrace tables give you awesome waterfront and city skyline views.  I like to eat very slowly here, and watch the boat traffic.  This location is larger than the North End site, especially when the outdoor tables are in use.

Like the North End location, this spot also features home cooked-style Italian seafood, and like the North End location, service can sometimes be a bit unpredictable.  If you're in a rush, Pace's farther down on Northern Ave will probably be faster, especially when there's a crowd here.

My best tip for enjoying the Ft. Point Channel location: arrive around 2 - 3pm on a sunny summer weekday afternoon, bring a book or your favorite companion, sit at an outside table, and savor the experience.

Address:  2 Northern Ave, in the South Boston Waterfront
Nearest T station:  South Station; walk over the Moakley Bridge
For more information:  617-523-8567; www.dailycatch.com

 

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More Boston Restaurant Choices to Explore

Boston Theatre District Restaurants Boston Seafood Restaurants Boston Steakhouse Restaurants

 

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