Funny story- when I was a kid- I hated pasta. Pasghetti- or whatever "I refuse to pronounce the correct word" name I gave to it, was not in my repertoire of acceptable dishes. I can only imagine how ridiculous that sounded at the time, and I'm sure it was just my form of a mini rebellion. It didn't last long and I soon began to enjoy the wonderful comforting nature of a big bowl of pasta with beautiful red sauce seeping into the crevices of the noodles and coating them with its fragrant and flavorful acidity. Of course today I have a little bit of a problem with pasta and could probably eat it three times a day if I let myself. So when a fun group of food bloggers decided to head on over to Panza in the North End for dinner last night, well, I jumped at the chance to give into my carb lovin' affliction in the company of like minded people.
Panza is located right on Hanover Street, across the street from Giacomo's, and I have heard rumors that they are owned by the same person. Either way, I had a similar feeling as I do in Giacomo's- that I was entering a room of comfort, a room where the true Italian spirit of "mangia!" lives on.
I had an incredibly difficult time deciding what to have for my meal, finally settling on their Beef and Veal Tortelloni, served with a veal stock reduction, wilted spinach and exotic mushrooms. The tortelloni were soft pillows folded over and filled with a combination of beef and veal ground together, and enhanced with a mixture of herbs and spices. The spinach, a flash of green on the plate was tender and well cooked, absorbing the flavors of the rich veal stock. The mushrooms added a wonderful earthy flavor, and grounding the other flavors in the dish.
Panza delivered on a realistic Italian dinner. The staff was casual and helpful, the food hearty and filling, and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming. Space is limited in the small restaurant, it can be a rather "intimate" experience, and the do not have the ability to seat you or let you wait for your full party to arrive inside the tight room, but they are willing to offer suggestions for cute places to browse when needed.
As a whole, the restaurant feels like a good standby for a good Italian dinner, and one that I hope to add to the rotation of casual dinners in the North End.