Buon appetito: Your guide to Boston's top 5 Italian restaurants

Buon appetito: Your guide to Boston's top 5 Italian restaurants
Carmelina's. | Photo: Tisa H./Yelp
By Hoodline - Published on September 25, 2018.

Looking to satisfy your appetite for Italian fare?

Hoodline crunched the numbers to find the top Italian restaurants around Boston, using both Yelp data and our own secret sauce to produce a ranked list of where to achieve your dreams.

Video: Hoodline

1. Carmelina's

Photo: Catherine A./Yelp

Topping the list is Carmelina's. According to its website, Carmelina's serves "traditional Sicilian comfort food with a Mediterranean twist." Located at 307 Hanover St. in North End, it is the most popular Italian restaurant in Boston, boasting 4.5 stars out of 1,193 reviews on Yelp.

Pasta and seafood dominate the menu, from spicy shrimp and fried calamari appetizers, to spaghetti with clams and rare tuna with pistachio pesto and fusilli. There are also meat and poultry main dishes, like pan-roasted chicken breast or braised lamb shank. Enjoy your meal in an intimate, exposed-brick setting decorated with black and white photographs that reflect Southern Italian family life. 

2. Giacomo's Ristorante

Photo: Emily K./Yelp

Next up is North End's Giacomo's Ristorante, situated at 355 Hanover St. A menu board on the wall of this neighborhood institution lists the most current offerings. There you'll find many seafood options, including calamari, mussels, grilled swordfish, salmon and frutti di mare.

Even the pasta dishes come with seafood, such as lobster ravioli and ziti with shrimp and scallops. Non-seafood entrees include veal marsala and pumpkin tortellini. With four stars out of 3,083 reviews on Yelp, the restaurant has proven to be a local favorite.

3. Carlo's Cucina Italiana

Photo: Caroline C./Yelp

Carlo's Cucina Italiana, located at 131 Brighton Ave. in Allston, is another top choice, with Yelpers giving it 4.5 stars out of 614 reviews. The restaurant features a full bar and murals of the Italian countryside.

You'll find familiar Italian favorites, like chicken Marsala and eggplant (or chicken or veal) parmigiana, along with house specialties such as pappardelle sautéed with zucchini, carrots and sugar snaps in a pink sauce and topped with fresh ricotta, and pan-seared pork chops with sautéed potatoes and vinegar peppers. Pair your fare with a selection off the carefully curated, mostly Italian wine list.

4. Regina Pizzeria

Photo: Cathleen L./Yelp

Regina Pizzeria is another high-traffic go-to, with four stars out of 1,590 Yelp reviews. It's a pizza joint, essentially, but a much-heralded one, having served customers at the corner of Thacher and North Margin streets since 1926.

The menu features a long list of specialty pies, like shrimp scampi and spinach and The Giambotta made with three kinds of meat, mushrooms, peppers, onions and basil. Vegetarians have their own section of the menu, as do meat lovers. You can knock back your pizza with a Peroni or perhaps a glass of chianti. Head over to 11 1/2 Thacher St. to see for yourself.

5. The Salty Pig

Photo: Alexander C./Yelp

Finally, over in Back Bay, check out The Salty Pig, which has earned four stars out of 1,453 reviews on Yelp. Beyond pizza and pasta, which are also here, this is a spot to explore pork charcuterie and cheese. Many of the offerings are produced regionally, like prosciutto and mortadella from Massachusetts, or a Vermont blue goat cheese.

Round out your meal with small plates of olives, smoked shallot marmalade or Marcona almonds. The bar is pouring cocktails and wine, many of which are available by the glass. You can find the restaurant at 130 Dartmouth St.