Rate This Italian Recommendation, Please? (Boston)

So, a friend who recently visited Boston has recommended Mamma Maria as an excellent Italian restaurant.

What do you locals think, and if you’d warn me off, where would you send me that’s better?

Mahalo,
Kaleo

I’ll be curious what others say - I haven’t been but it has been on my list. It was well spoken of (okay typed about) either on here or chowhound.

I like it! Expensive and in that price category I might prefer Sorrellina, but it’s pretty darn delicious.

I really like Mamma Maria’s. The ambiance (it sits right on the Square, cobblestone streets, across from the Paul Revere House. The food is excellent albeit pricey. It is my go to place when I take someone who hasn’t been to the North End before. They have valet parking as well. It’s top notch in my book.

Oh - good to know about valet in that neighborhood! Thanks

Mamma Maria is an excellent recommendation for traditional, upscale Italian. The building and rooms have fantastic ambiance, and it is located on in a quaint nook of the North End a bit away from the hustle and bustle. The food is consistently very good and the service is professional and consistent. They also have a full bar, which many places in the North End do not. I have never gone wrong recommending Mamma Maria or using it for a business dinner. It is also great for private dining with rooms of various sizes available.

If spending on a higher end Italian meal, I personally prefer Giulia or Benedetto where the food is definitely a cut above Mamma Maria.

Ditto. Been to a number of business dinners in one of the small private dining rooms. Service has always been excellent, food decent, though I agree not as au courant as Giulia etc.

OK, I had dinner at Mamma Maria night before last. I dislike reporting on restaurants of this level, for the simple reason that it can be easy to expect too much and therefore damn the place with faint praise. While I really can’t fault anything at all about the experience, there was little to enthuse about.

Our party of four was seated in the little private alcove-room directly above the entrance. I had read that this is a privileged spot, looking directly out on the small square and Paul Revere’s house. One of my pet peeves, dense-packing tables, simply wasn’t an issue here, and the view regularly caused wonder at what someone might have seen from this window in the late hours of April 18, 1775! From my seat I could also see down a hall into a very cozy full bar with four seats. This is where I’ll head next time.

The Maria version of an Old Fashioned was first rate. I had hoped to try their halibut with parsnip puree or the seared scallop entree, but neither were on the day’s menu. So I opted for the osso buco on saffron risotto. It’s a pretty good sign when a restaurant has marrow spoons at the ready. Wahine chose the Bolognese pasta. One of our companions ordered the chicken with Brussels sprouts; the other picked two appetizers: the scallops and the Buffalo mozz caprese salad.

Service was timely, professional and multi-tiered. I was amused when the waiter fussed scooping a fumbled shared grain of risotto, when it had scored a bullseye in the middle of an old, prominent wine stain.

All the food was good. I thought my osso buco was the best dish served. The Bolognese, while good, I thought was utterly unremarkable. I treated the ladies to a shared rhubarb Panna Cotta in which I thought the rhubarb topping and sauce were substantially oversweet. My vin santo was tasty.

Due to expense accounting, I paid my own tab. One cocktail, the osso, a stem of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the Panna Cotta, and the vin santo came to $94 before tip.

In a strange conclusion to the evening, our waiter refused my request to hail a cab for us. This necessitated what I’d sought to avoid: a several-block unprotected walk in a serious rain.

On balance, I can’t say I was disappointed with Mamma Maria. But neither can I say it was a great experience. Maybe it was an off night…

Aloha,
Kaleo

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