It was the evening before the Boston marathon and my boyfriend had to eat pasta to load up on carbs, so I thought I would chose a good Italian restaurant that both of us will enjoy and my boyfriend will be able to stuck into pasta and I will be able to have a nice dinner.
Boston has a lot of Italian restaurants, especially in the North End, as a lot of Italians settled in Boston after leaving Italy during the last century and before. My trusted travel guide Frommers spoke highly of Mamma Maria, saying it was one of the most romantic restaurants in Boston, and that it was the best restaurant in North End, offering “innovative cuisine” and “generous portions”, so I booked this for our before marathon dinner.
Mamma Maria is located in a brick house, and it sits on a small hill and overlooks the famous Bostonian Paul Revere house, and also downtown Boston. We arrived 30 minutes before our reservation, but they did manage to seat us. The restaurant has 5 rooms, and they vary in terms of the atmosphere and some indeed are darker and more romantic than others, but we were seated in a very light room on the first floor, and whilst it was pleasant, it was not that romantic. I also did not like the fact that the waitress kept the window open to air the room which made me very cold (and she did not really care when I started complaining).
The bread the waitress brought us was good, the pesto was nice too, but the olives were quite average. The menu changes frequently, and has very interesting pastas on the menu, like rabbit pasta, lobster pasta, as well as meat and fish dishes and their famous Osso Buco (classic style saffron risotto topped with cross-cut veal shanks) and I saw someone order this and it looked impressive. The menu is definitely different to your average European Italian restaurant. As for our starter we ordered a tuna tartare served on some chopped cucumbers. I heard the table next to us order the same thing and the lady telling the waitress how much she liked it, and the waitress was saying that this dish has nothing added to it, as people can be allergic to things and they try to keep it as basic as they can. I unfortunately did not like their basic approach and found this dish quite dull. The tuna was very good, but it was so plain, eating it with the cucumbers was not enjoyable in the slightest. I love raw tuna, but I have never been more bored with raw tuna anywhere than here. There was a salad on the menu that featured tomatoes and other vegetables and I asked if I could only have tomatoes, and the waitress initially did not want to bring it, and said they could not change the menu, but after I asked for this many times, I did manage to get my tomato salad, which once again was nice, but a bit boring, and I know tomato salads are not the most exciting dish out there, but you can make them more interesting and tasty.
As for the main course my boyfriend ordered the Bolognese Pasta, and despite me being as far as I could be from running a marathon, I also went for pasta, the Seafood pasta. I loved the plates in which they served all the pastas, they were large, heavy and colourful, in a yellow/ orange colour and the pastas were all aligned in the middle. The Frommers guide was not right about “generous portions”, I though the portions were average. I loved my boyfriend’s Bolognese Pasta, but it did not taste like the average Bolognese pasta, and I can’t really explain why this was the case. It also was in a more orangey, as opposed to red, colour. I did not like my seafood pasta. I though the seafood in the pasta was good, and you could find squid, scallops and prawns in it (the scallops were grilled and not cooked together and then put on top of the pasta), so the quality was great, the sauce I was not that keen on, and to me it tasted a bit strange. I liked the interesting shape of the pasta used though.
I have not been to any other Italian restaurants in Boston, but I doubt this is the best one. The food did not impress me that much, it was good, but it lacked something.
Price for 2 people, no alcohol: $95.77 (and including service charge we left $115)