The last two Christmas’s, Ristorante Saraceno on Hanover Street in the North End sent out gift cards for all of the concierges to come and try out their restaurant. I had heard good things about it from other colleagues but have always had my go to’s: Antico Forno for pizza and Limoncello for classic Northern Italian.
Well Saturday night, I was going to change that. David and I originally had reservations at Chart House (another go-to!) but I wanted to try something different. We got ready, grabbed our gift card and were out the door. On a Saturday night in the North End, parking can definitely be tough but because of David’s military affiliation, we were able to park at the Coast Guard station!
My first impression of the restaurant was definitely cozy. There were about a dozen tables and David and I were sat at the table right next to the door. Thankfully there was someone who manned the outside and indoor door such that I never felt cold or needed to wear my jacket.
We started off with a few pieces of Italian bread dipped in olive oil. Is it just me, or does the bread scratch the roof of your mouth? It has a tough crust but it’s still yummy.
For wine, we opted for the house pinot grigio. David is a sweet-white-wine fan so I hoped this would work for him. It was a little dry for him, but I enjoyed it with my pasta. I’ll pretty much drink any white wine; it’s red wine that I’m so particular with. ;-)
To start, David and I both had the insalata della Casa. It consisted of romaine and spring mix lettuce, olives, tomato, red onion and pepper topped with balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was crisp and fresh but there was definitely too much dressing. It ended up pooling at the bottom of the plate.
For our entrees, we decided on two pasta dishes and shared them. I ordered the Spaghetti all Amatriciana which is spaghetti with tomato-onion-bacon sauce & sharp Parmesan cheese. David ordered the Lasagne al forno della Casa which is the homemade lasagna. I pictured my dish but not David’s.
Hey there bacon!
The portion sizes were perfect; David and I were able to split both and we didn’t feel full. Both dishes weren’t out of this world, but they were tasty as comfort food. Mine had just the right amount of bacon but I didn’t really taste any of the onions in the sauce. That’s probably because the downside to both entrees was the over seasoning of salt! With his lasagna, David said it was as if the chef put salt in the pasta, then drained the pasta, put more salt and added salt to the meat. It also wasn’t as cheesy as I like lasagna to be. There was minimal mozzarella and a bit of ricotta. It was definitely meaty and saucy though.
For dessert, David chose the chocolate mousse cake. It came out in less than 5 minutes. And it tasted like a hostess cupcake. Tasted good, but definitely not authentic, and it seemed as if it came right out of the fridge. I also had a cup of coffee with my bites.
The service was also dicey. It wasn’t unreasonably slow but it would have been nice to not have to wait 10-15 minutes before placing our order. It probably didn’t help that former Channel 5 news anchor Chet Curtis was having a large party there that night; I’m sure the servers attention was on them most of the time. But when we were served, the gentlemen were extremely pleasant and helpful. And at the end of the night, I gave them the gift certificate along with my business card and they returned the gift certificate back and told me to come back anytime.
I may take them up on it, but during the week and to try a different entrée.
But my overall impression is that there are a ton of Italian restaurants to choose from and this one would probably not be on the top of my list. I didn’t leave with any lasting impressions, but we did enjoy our evening nonetheless. For casual dining, I like to stick to Limoncello and if you want to be wowed by food, then I recommend Prezza. :-)