Overhyped Boston restaurants

While I spent four years in college in the Boston area and then subsequently went back very regularly to visit my then boyfriend for three additional years, there was always one restaurant in the North End I always wanted to eat at, but just never got around to because it was infamous for its long wait (they don’t take reservations), plus it was cash only. From what I’d heard, they were also pretty arrogant and had terrible service, but sometimes, that’s just what you deal with to get good food, right?

Finally, this work trip, some friends in the area suggested we eat in the North End, so I asked if we could go to Giacomo’s. We didn’t wait long; in fact, we waited just long enough for our third friend to arrive and got seated right away. It probably helped that it was a Monday night at around 6:30, too. But when we got seated and I took a look at the menu, it all seemed pretty standard. I couldn’t tell if these were all fresh pastas or not. We ordered the veal parmagianno, the fettuccine with mixed seafood, and the lobster ravioli, as well as the fried calamari to start. The fried calamari was mediocre at best, full of fillers, even fried onions and peppers! The veal and the lobster ravioli were delicious. The mixed seafood was all cooked well. But the fettuccine, although al dente, wasn’t anything remarkable. I wondered why a place this famous wouldn’t have fresh, homemade pasta as a default, or even an option on the menu… until I read a Yelp review that said you actually have to “know to ask” for the fresh pasta with a small uncharge. Why should an Italian place have that be an “off menu” item — isn’t that something so basic to their cuisine?! But almost to make up for it, the prices were pretty reasonable, especially for the North End of Boston; with one starter, three mains, and tax and tip, we ended up paying $26 per person, which is pretty unheard of in this part of town.

Giacomo’s has decent Italian food, but other than the for the prices, I’m not sure why this place is so popular and always has crazy lines. It seems far more overhyped than it should be. I definitely think that New York City is infinitely better for Italian food overall, for the range in price points, quality and variety of Italian dishes, as well as.. well, places that actually offer fresh pasta and don’t make it some senseless secret.

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