+ North End’s Strega is a Celebrity Haven
Nick Varano, owner of Strega, Nico and Nick Varano’s Famous Deli Restaurants, just might be Boston’s biggest celebrity restaurateur. Some of the celebrities spotted at the North End favorite Strega include none other than Tony Soprano himself (the late James Gandolfini), Robert DeNiro, Paris Hilton, Steven Tyler, The Rock and Justin Timberlake. Diners of all ages flock to this super hot Hanover Street restaurant not only for the lively scene, where Varano claims you will be treated like a celebrity even if you aren’t, but also for the authentic Italian cuisine. There are Italian gangster movies, i.e. The Godfather, running continuously on the numerous TVs set in the wall. House specialties include veal chops stuffed with prosciutto and fontina cheese and grilled filet mignon with a Remy-Martin sauce. The Buccatini All’ Amatricana (pasta sautéed with pancetta, San Marzano tomato sauce with onions covered with a blend of pecorino and parmigiano cheeses) just might be the best dish on the menu. End the night with a sweet limoncello or a strong cup of cappuccino.
+ Toscano is Beacon Hill’s Italian Gem
Some Bostonians may argue the best Italian food can be found in the North End, but the hidden gem known as Toscano sits prominently in Beacon Hill. Located on picturesque Charles Street where people watching here is one of the best in the city, Toscano has a knowledgeable staff who review both the food and wine menus with guests while making suggestions. The upscale restaurant is an ideal location for a special occasion or formal night on the town. This year, Toscano celebrates its 25th anniversary with new owners and a new look. The interior has been revitalized to include 80-year-old hand carved walnut hardwood floors, Italian stone walls, and individually painted chandeliers. The menu includes freshly baked pizzas, homemade breads, house made pastas like gnocchi Quattro formaggi to slow grilled meats and fresh seafood (think oven roasted monkfish). Be sure to make a reservation in advance as this place fills up to capacity quickly, especially on the weekends. When you leave here, you will truly feel their motto “Toscano – where a road in Tuscany leads to Beacon Hill” rings piercingly true. For more information, visit toscanoboston.com.
+ Benevento’s Brick Oven: Great North End Pizza
Located in the Italian North End section, Benevento’s is a welcome addition to the city. The restaurant focuses on specialty pizzas such as the Victoria (sautéed shrimp scampi with diced tomatoes, garlic, white wine, basil and light mozzarella cheese) or make-your-own by choosing from a variety of toppings (think homemade meatball and prosciutto) and sauces such as garlic and extra virgin olive oil or vodka sauce. There is a good selection of homemade pastas cooked to order as well as seafood and chicken dishes and even a kid’s menu for the youngsters in the group. Visit beneventosboston.com for more information.