In almost every city, you can find a good Italian meal, maybe even a GREAT Italian meal. Some may be artistically displayed via the old addage that you eat with your eyes first. Some may just be well seasoned, nicely spiced, and incorportating the correct ingredients. And then SOME, not many, are simply, beautifully authentic. They embrace the authenticity of the Italian culture from the moment you walk in the door of the restaurant until you waddle out hours later. Giacomo's in Boston's North End is one of these jewels that you search for.
Anyone in Boston will tell you to get there early or expect to stand in line. Last Saturday night my foodie friend from Florida and I got there later, and stood in a line that reached to the end of the block. Our wait was about an hour, which passed quickly since our neighbors in line were chatty tourists and amused us. We did luck out though, with about 3 parties left in line in front of us, a waitress emerged from inside and asked for a party of two who didnt mind sitting at the "bar". A few dates minded, and so my friend and I scored what I believe to be the best seat in the house. Up at the bar that separates the kitchen from the dining room there are two seats at the far end. From this vantage point you can see the entire room, the chefs to the patrons, and fully experience the place. Giacomos encompasses everything that I know to be Italian. Growing up with stories of my mothers family holidays, I know the boistrous attitudeds, the "come, sit, eat" mentality, and the treat everyone as though they are family ideology. A restaurant has never made me feel more at home. We took our seats and since our waitress wasnt immediately available another came to show us the Specials Menu, hand written on cards-so you know how fresh those were. Moments later, Rosemary, our waitress for the evening came over to introduce herself. We asked her advice for a bottle of wine (most bottles are only $15.95), and ordered a starter of garlic bread. Then we set to the long task of figuring out what we wanted to eat. We made the decision to just get two entrees and share them- but deciding the two became very difficult. With Rosemary's assistance, we decided on the Butternut Squash Ravioli with the marscapone cheese sauce, and the fettucini with chicken, peppers and onions in a tomato cream sauce. The Butternut Squash Ravioli came out first and was absolutely delicious. The cheese sauce was enhanced with asparagus, and the menu also stated proscuitto, though I did not find any of this in my portions. However, the sauce was able to maintain a light feel to it, despite its ingredient list, and was the perfect creamy taste to be paired with the sweet squash filling. Everything about this dish was perfection, and the garlic bread on the side was wonderful as well. The garlic was a presence, without being TOO strong as often happens, and the butter left a nice glisten on the bread without weighing it down.
Our second dish was also good, though after the butternut squash ravioli, I have to admit I was a little disappointed. I wonder though, that if the first dish hadnt been SO delicious, if I would be raving about the second as well? The fettucini was piled high on the plate, and tomato cream sauce was tasty, if not lacking in a little flavor? The peppers were sweet, and the onions a perfect compliment. The chicken included was also very tasty, though I didnt feel as if there was enough of it with the size of the portion of pasta. However, sopping up the remaining tomato sauce with the garlic bread was absolutely amazing.
I must say, we cleaned our plates, all of them, and finished our wine and were possibly some of the most content people in Boston that evening. Rosemary was friendly, and knowledgable and honestly a complete delight. She revealed that she has been working at Giacomos since its opening 24 years ago. I believe that that kind of loyalty and dedication is what makes Giacomos so wonderful. She, along with the other staff, have love, real love for the place, and that shows in every dish they make, every order they place, ever bottle of wine they serve. It is a place that I, along with the other throngs of people who are in love with it, will return to over and over again. Arent we all really, just one big, happy Italian family?
No website to speak of- though the menu can be found through city search and I believe menupages.com. Also- note that when you go- credit cards are not accepted.