boston, Italian

North Square Oyster- Boston, MA

Ah, to be back home in Boston once again. After taking just, you know, a little trip to the Bahamas for New Years being back in Boston is nice…even if it is -13 with the wind chill. Any-who, its become a sort of tradition now that when I’m home my parents and I treat ourselves to a fancy North End meal. I mentioned this in my Mammamaria post, but treating yourself to a special meal is fun and well worth it. This time we tried Mammamaria’s neighbor, North Square Oyster.

Located directly across the street is North Square, a lovely older building where the restaurant takes up two floors overlooking the square and an adorable little bar next door. The building is timeless, beautiful ceilings that look foreign in comparison to newer buildings in the area. Chairs and booths situated in the rounded out windows make for a cozy feel when sitting there and mood lighting certainly does, well, set the mood!


As we looked over the menu it is not the typical Italian one is expecting. It’s up there with Mammamaria in terms of how upscale and sophisticated the menu is. You won’t find classic rigatoni with sauce, but items like mushroom risotto and gnocchi in a sweet broth. All the items sound superb and any choices we made that night would have left our taste buds feeling a sense of expansion.

The first dish we ordered was actually a special that evening. Gnocchi in a sweet, sour broth. The gnocchi was definitely homemade, perfectly cooked and absolutely divine. The broth was delicious, a different sweetness to it than you’d expect. Not the typical gnocchi dish one would be expecting, but certainly a delicious one.


The next dish we got was the NY strip steak with caramelized onions, trumpet mushrooms, and pommes purée (mashed potatoes). Okay, first of all, I know mashed potatoes are just potatoes and butter, but these pommes purée were insane. So rich and buttery and seasoned perfectly. There really is nothing like good steak and potatoes. The steak was really juicy and had good flavor to it and was cooked well. The onions were so fragrant and had a strong taste to them, certainly fresh and I’m sure picked at the market that morning. 


Lastly, and certainly the best of the three dishes, was the mushroom risotto. I like getting risotto when I go out if I can (and feel like it) because risotto is a rice that needs time, not something chefs on “Top Chef” like to make. This mushroom risotto was just incredible. With pickled chanterelles, maitake and cepes, and pumpkin spiced almonds it was out of this world. So creamy and warm, the flavors coming together between the mushrooms and pumpkin almonds. I guess, and I could just not be paying attention, but I never thought of mushrooms and pumpkin spice together! What a combination! It truly took the risotto up a notch with that hint of spice. 

North Square is a higher end kind of place, being in the same square as Mammamaria you kind of have to be. Both restaurants have a bit of a reputation of serving superb Italian food and I can honestly say that it’s true. Different vibes, but one common goal…to serve incredible, high end, innovative Italian food. As you tour the Paul Revere house when you’re in Boston, think about just going up the street. Whether it be for drinks at North Square’s cute little bar or having dinner there, it’ll be worth every penny…your taste buds will thank you. 

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boston, Italian, Sweets, Uncategorized

Mammamaria- Boston, MA

Pasta is most likely one of the most popular dishes to make, for all ages. From macaroni and cheese to lasagna, kindergarten well into ones adulthood pasta is just universal across the board. I think we can all agree, however, that everyone cooks pasta differently. Some people prefer it to be al dente meaning a firmer bite, others like it to be soft to the point that it practically disinigrates in your mouth. No matter how you cook it though, there is a correct way to cook pasta where its firm yet is still melt in your mouth. It can be hard to tell what that should taste or feel like, but if you go to Mammamaria they’ll demonstrate how to do it perfectly. 

The North End is obviously flooded with delicious Italian restaurants, but you can feel the difference when you go into higher end restaurant like Mammamaria. The ambiance inside makes you feel like you’ve just walked into a movie scene, beautifully placed utensils and exquisite, Italian inspired design plates. Tables placed fairly close together makes it feel like a cozy trattoria. The staff are both inviting and professional, the waiters filling water glasses and clearing plates as often as they can. The beautiful decor makes for a lovely ambiance inside and hearing the room filled with laughter makes for a wonderful evening. 

The select evening menu was filled with all the delicious classic Italian dishes made with local New England products. For our antipasti, or appetizer, we selected the cheese sampler, three different cheeses with fresh colorful tomatoes and drizzle of olive oil. Local ricotta and mozzarella from Massachusetts and bufala mozzarella from Naples are all melt in your mouth on top of the fresh bread. The bufala was the best by far, so creamy and milky, bursting with flavor.

For the main course the menu was full of innovative and different combinations, but I wanted to judge Mamma’s by the classic Italian, bolognese. And Mamma Maria was this bolognese good. The meat was seasoned and cooked perfectly, the sauce delicious with a tangy taste almost and flavorful with every bite. The pasta, as discussed in the opening, was cooked as it is meant to be cooked. Not too soft, not too stiff. A good bite too it and cooked throughout, not a single strand of pasta out of line. Garnished with fresh Parmesan grated right from the block and you are beginning to feel Italian. 

Another notable menu item was the summertime squash ravioli. Filled with green and yellow squash and corn, the filling was very refreshing as well as flavorful. The ravioli pasta was done just right and you can tell delicate hands in the kitchen sculpted the tiny pillows of cheese heaven. 

Finally, a meal like this isn’t complete without a homemade, warm Italian dessert. From a list that made the decision extremely hard, this menu item was a standout. A warm puff pastry that held a mixture of delicious crisp apples and cinnamon spices topped with freshly whipped cream and chocolate and caramel drizzles. Each bite was like a new sensation of the flavors coming together in harmony, the sweet cream, tartness of the apples, and crunch of flaky pastry. 

It is the place to enjoy a spectacular Italian meal, a meal that may be as close as it gets to being in Italy. Meals like this perpetuate meaningful conversation, as you’re huddled together discussing the food as well as family conversation. One thing to point out is that a meal like this doesn’t come cheap, but its a meal few and far between. Savor, enjoy, and love meals like this. Go for it, you can figure out finances down the road, but a meal like this is worth every penny. Not just for the food, but for the memories. 

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