5 Outstanding Italian Restaurants in Boston (that are nowhere near the North End)

Monday, September 5, 2016

Ken Oringer's Coppa in the South End
Last night we took our 9 year old to visit a restaurant I've long wanted to experience: Coppa. I don't know why it took us so long to make it a priority to go there (as opposed to re-visiting an old favorite) but it was tremendously enjoyable and sparked an interest in checking out new places. It was just one of those nights where you park right in front of the restaurant without incident, get seated at a cool table right away, and enjoy experiencing something for the first time. We'll be back.

I got to thinking about how many great Italian restaurants there are in Boston. And how hard it is to find a truly outstanding dining experience in Boston's North End. If you're not familiar with Boston, the North End is an old residential neighborhood packed with Italian restaurants which unfortunately aren't very good in my humble opinion. The North End is a cool place to visit for sure, but I think there are better options elsewhere in and around Boston.

Here are five of my favorites...


Posto in Davis Square is a Wood-Fired Italian restaurant, and part of the amazing Alpine Restaurant Group (along with Rosebud and Painted Burro). Posto means "sit and relax." Chef/owner Joe Cassinelli's restaurants have impressed me across the board with overall excellence. Mouth watering menus, inviting and distinct atmospheres, delicious food, and outstanding service.

Although the main attraction at Posto is the Neopolitan pizza, I find myself wanting to try the entire menu. The Burrata (with roasted peaches, thyme, prosciutto di parma and honey.) The Caprese (heirloom cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, vincotto and cabernet vinaigrette.) The Gnocchi (with braised beef short ribs, red wine sauce and parmesan crema.) Amazing. All served in a lively environment that invites spirited conversation.


Osteria Posto

Osteria Posto features a gorgeous build out more formal than Posto proper, and is more accessible to the western suburbs thanks to its location along 128 in Waltham. Osteria means "a restaurant serving wine and simple food" and the menu focuses on Italian dishes other than pizza at dinner while still offering pizzas at lunch. We visited for brunch on Mother's Day which was outstanding.

The service here is a cut above, and the menu just as interesting and inviting as Posto. They say Osteria Posto is their take on today's Italian Steakhouse, and the menu does indeed feature full-sized entrees rather than small plates. But I'd be tempted to piece together a meal with Charcuterie or their Chilled Shellfish to start, a couple of appetizers, pasta, and sides to share.



Sorellina is a tranquil oasis in Back Bay featuring elevated Italian cuisine. It's part of the Columbus Hospitality Group which also features Mistral and the excellent but unfortunately named Mooo.... steakhouse.

I remember going here for date night when the kids were young and it really hit the spot in terms of providing a getaway. It's elegant and refined. Quiet enough to have a conversation for two, but also enjoyable for a larger group. Absolutely do not miss the Gnocchi (potato dumplings, Maine lobster, Vermont butter.) This is a great place to go for a special occasion or when you want to impress a client.



Update: Babbo is closing September 15, 2019

Babbo is Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich's Pizzeria on Boston's Fan Pier. The restaurant is spacious and well-appointed in an upscale yet comfortable way that I sense accomodates larger work groups very nicely. And families with younger kids as well.

If you come here, you're almost certainly going to enjoy small plates along with their signature Neapolitan pies. But they do have some items from the grill and pasta dishes as well. I found the menu format a tad difficult to navigate but the food and atmosphere are no doubt outstanding and I'd gladly return for another visit. And I'll look forward to Eataly Boston opening later this year at the Prudential Center.


And, based on last night's experience, now added to the list...


Coppa is Ken Oringer's Italian small plates restaurant and wine bar in the South End. The guy has closed some of my favorite restaurants in Boston: the amazing upscale Clio and the outstanding Mexican restaurant La Verdad. So I've long wanted to try his new restaurants. Along with Coppa he's currently running Toro (Spanish tapas), Uni (Japanese, expanded at the former Clio space), and Little Donkey (global small plates).

This is a neighborhood restaurant that will make you want to move to the South End. Families with young kids visit early followed by more unencumbered diners later in the evening. The room is small [45 seats] with a cozy but comfortable atmosphere. Highlights included the simply perfect Polpette (Meatballs, tomato, parmigiano cheese- our waiter told us they also use the scraps from the proscuitto slicer in there), the stunningly good Margherita pizza (Tomato, basil, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil), and an amazing house made Gemelli (Extruded pasta, lobster, brown butter, chanterelles both being enjoyed in the photo below.)


Which ones did I miss? Leave a comment below or ping me on Twitter: @RobertDwyer



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