Thursday, April 7, 2011

Mother Anna's, North End, Boston

It sits like a beacon at the top of Hanover Street- welcoming all visitors to the row of Italian cuisine.  Mother Anna's has sat in their space, a watchful eye over the North End, for over 7 decades serving up Italian classics, destined to satisfy those pasta "comfort food" cravings.  On a raw, rainy evening, I made my way to Mother Anna's to catch up with some wonderful former colleagues, and warm up with some hearty Italian fare.

We started our evening with a small plate of their Antipasti, which the waiter assured us would be plenty for us to share.  He was very right in his assessment.  A bowl was delivered to our table that was piled high with greens, hard boiled eggs, steamed green beans, roasted red peppers, salami, cheese and tuna.  It was a literal mountain of food rising out of its container.  I really enjoyed the variety of ingredients included in this selection.  The sharp provolone, the flaked tuna, and of course the salami.  I did feel a little sad for the green beans which had suffered the plight of being substantially over cooked, but all in all it was a nice selection, and absolutely more than enough food for the three of us.

It may sound odd, but I have an old standby when I head out for Italian.  Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood for red sauce, and when that occurs, I often order penne, chicken and broccoli.  I like to think it's healthy (kinda).  The beauty of this dish is that every place does it a little differently.  Mother Anna's was unlike any version I've seen before.  A big steaming bowl was placed in front of me full of penne blanketed in a cheesy sauce enhanced with spears and florets of broccoli and large chunks of chicken meat.  Though this version was much more decadent than the white wine sauce version I was anticipating, however it did have a really lovely flavor.  Sharp flavors of Parmesan were blended into the buttery sauce, and brightened with just a bit of white wine.  I would have enjoyed the spears of broccoli to have been a bit less cooked as their bright green hue had been cooked out into a duller, deeper color, but all in all the dish was hearty and satisfying.  

Mother Anna's doesn't present itself to be gourmet, nor is it.  It instills a family vibe, a welcoming presence, and its food echoes this feel.  Like your Italian Grandmother who begins heckling you for being "skin and bones" from the moment you enter her home, and then subsides into a chorus of "mangia, mangia"- Mother Anna's is down home classic food meant to fill you to the brim, and then send you home with the leftovers.   

Mother Anna's on Urbanspoon


Kristen said...

One of those north end spots I still have not been to! I have never heard one thing about it, so your review is great to read! I might just pay mother anna a vist now. She has a lovely patio in the warm weather, too!!

Delicious Dishings said...

My fiance always orders chicken, broccoli, and ziti too. I went to Mother Anna's years ago with friends. I don't remember what we ordered but I remember we were all happy and had a lot of fun.

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