Boston is not just known for its seafood. There are also endless spots to get great homemade pasta. With the multitude of options out there, we are here to steer you in the right direction. Today, we have three of our favorite spots for all things Italian and pasta. One spot is a North End classic, another serves up homemade pasta on-the-go, and finally, possibly our favorite “off the beaten path” Italian restaurant.
We won’t bury the lede here. Rino’s is hands-down our favorite spot for Italian in the Boston area. Most tourists will never try this spot because it’s not located in the heavily trafficked and commercialized North End. Rino’s is located in East Boston, which is usually the land of burritos and tacos, but long ago, this was a predominately Italian neighborhood. It may not be on many of the tourist lists, but the locals here will line up before opening just to get a seat. Part of this is due to the cozy dining area, and part is due to the fact that there are no reservations. But mainly, the traffic is due to their super high quality food and huge portions.
Rino’s takes pride in everything they serve (and you can taste it). There are a variety of homemade pastas here, and they are all good, but the two that take the cake for us are the **** and gnocchi. The gnocchi (which could probably feed a small family) is baked with their plum tomato sauce and gooey cheese. We had an out of body experience while eating it.
Also, we aren’t sure what kind of genetically engineered chickens they are using for their chicken parms, because it was so large it was practically falling off the plate.
When we think take-out, pasta is usually not one of the first things that comes to mind. Bottega has changed the game with fast, fresh pasta on-the-go. This small corner shop cranks out fresh pasta dishes that can be enjoyed in-store or takeaway. The pasta and sauces are all made in house. They have a large variety that you can always find, plus great daily specials.
For us, build-your-own pasta is the way to go. Their cacio e pepe sauce is simple, but packs a pepper punch. You can also create your own pastas, all for usually under $15. For quality this high, this is a deal that’s hard to find elsewhere.
Although the North End is filled with tourist traps, Giacomo’s is the real deal. The sauce game here is hard to beat. Their shining stars are the three lobster-based sauces, which will satisfy any mood you’re in. The fra diavolo is a spicy lobster red sauce, Giacomo is a creamy lobster red sauce, and our personal favorite (which is the best of both worlds) the Fracomo, is a combination of the two. If they have the fusilli daily special (which is almost always on the menu), it is hard to top. This consists of homemade fusilli, lobster and shrimp, plus your choice of sauce. The shrimp here are massive, and you are getting prime lobster meat. These are full-on chunks of sweet claw meat and savory tail meat.
Calamari and chicken parm are two staples of any good American-Italian restaurant. Giacomo’s does both at a high level. Lightly fried to perfection, the calamari is served with a side of marinara (theirs comes with hot and sweet peppers). The chicken parm is not as massive as Rino’s, but what it lacks in girth it makes up for in taste.