The Best Restaurants in the North End

By Eric Twardzik
Neptune Oyster/Credit: Brian Samuels

Long an enclave of Italian immigrants, Boston’s North End is a unique neighborhood and a destination for tourists and locals alike. It's now home to the most restaurants per capita of any local area, from special-occasion places to red sauce joints and eccentric mom-and-pops that keep on thriving. Whether you're searching for cult-favorite pizza or the perfect Italian sub, here are the must-visit restaurants and eateries in the North End.

Lobster roll from Neptune Oyster
Neptune Oyster: Maine Lobster Roll (Hot)

Piccolo bistrot Neptune Oyster may not be as Italian as its neighbors, but it’s a No. 1 North End destination for serving some of the best seafood in a city known for fresh fish. Adding your name to the omnipresent list for or even queuing up on Salem Street is worth the wait for the excellent, generously stuffed Maine Lobster Roll (available cold or hot), perfectly Fried Ipswich Clams, and thick Neptune Johnnycakes topped with smoked bluefish and caviar. If your heart is set on pasta, Lobster Spaghettini pops up as a special each Monday.

Regina Pizzeria

Exterior of Regina's Pizzeria | The Best Restaurants in the North End of Boston

Longevity means a lot in a neighborhood like the North End, and in terms of sheer numbers it’s hard to beat the original location of Regina Pizzeria, just a few years shy of its 100th birthday. The history of the small space makes this corner restaurant quite a scene, but the pizza itself is the real draw here. (The tightly packed wooden booths do have their charm, but some nights we’re grateful that takeout is also an option.) Each pie is topped with whole-milk mozzarella for a gooey, comforting, good-greasy heft that’s balanced by the acidity of the red sauce.

Monica's Mercato & Salumeria

Italian sandwich from Monica's Mercato & Salumeria
Brian Samuels Photography

You’ll find no shortage of fresh pastas, cured meats, and salty cheeses at family-run market Monica’s Mercato & Salumeria. But one item in particular has us returning lunch after lunch: the Italian Sub. This version of the classic sandwich is gloriously decked out with thin slices of prosciutto, mortadella, and Genoa salami. All of that meat—plus provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, hots, and drizzles of both oil and balsamic vinegar—is piled between bread slices freshly baked on-site. This well-proportioned stack is a generous portion, and a perfect picnic to take on the nearby Greenway.


Tony & Elaine's

Tony & Elaine's | The Best Restaurants in the North End of Boston

This red sauce joint on the edge of the North End feels like it’s been there forever, and in some ways it has, though it actually opened in early 2019. Tony & Elaine’s is from a second-generation North Ender, whose All Day Hospitality Group is also behind Ward 8 and other local spots. It’s named for his parents—a pair of longtime neighborhood servers—and has a vibe straight out of the ‘70s, from the red vinyl booths to the bottles of straw-wrapped Chianti on every table. However, the Boston-style Italian fare is updated accordingly. We love these substantial servings of Chicken Parmesan with house-made mezzi rigatoni and Orecchiette Sausage & Rabe.


Prezza | The Best Restaurants in the North End of Boston
Photo Provided by Prezza

For more than 20 years, Prezza has been a North End destination off the well-trodden paths of Salem and Hanover streets. Chef-owner Anthony Caturano named it for the village from which his grandmother hailed, serving cuisine inspired by the rustic “Italian peasant food” she cooked for him growing up. But don’t mistake: This is a sophisticated, white tablecloth, authentic Italian restaurant. A huge wine list complements the menu of hearty entrees like a Crispy Pork Chop with vinegar peppers, roasted onions and potatoes; fresh pastas like a version of Lobster Fra Diavolo brightened up with saffron rigatoni and fennel; and the signature Ravioli di Uovo, a luxurious orb of ricotta and egg yolk practically floating in butter and sage.

Pizza from Galleria Umberto

Tight hours, low prices, and cash-only: Galleria Umberto has all the markings of an old-school hole-in-the-wall. Indeed it is, and it’s a beloved North End mainstay for all those reasons and more. The lunchtime crowds—it’s only open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. or sellout—arrive for dense squares of Sicilian-style pizza topped by a blanket of slightly charred cheese. You can’t go wrong sticking to slices, but plan a return visit to fill up on oversized Arancini and Calzones filled with ham and salami.

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