This weekend marks Saint Anthony's Feast, the massive annual festival that fills Boston's Italian North End with food, music, and lots (lots!) of tourists. That's all well and good, but where's a foodie to feast if you don't want to duke it out for personal space or a parking spot? We tracked down a must-visit Italian gem in six different neighborhoods; none would feel out of place in the North End, if it wasn't for the extra elbow room.
Allston: Carlo's Cucina
Tucked amid the hipster bars of Allston is this under-the-radar gem, a frill-free dining room that serves up huge helpings of traditional housemade fare. Noni would approve.
131 Brighton Ave.; 617-254-9759
South End: Giacomo's
This South End sibling to the tiny North End original is where devotees have been known to line up around the corner for a table: and that's on a slow day. You won't have that problem at this spot, which has a larger dining room, but doesn't lose its intimacy.
431 Columbus Ave.; 617-536-5723
Porter Square: Giulia
It's named for the historic Rome street where its owners were inspired to launch a restaurant. So naturally, Giulia transports some authentic rustic Italian cuisine, and boasts a "pasta table." By day, it's where the pasta is rolled out and handmade. By night, it's a reservable centerpiece for large parties.
1682 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-441-2800
East Boston: Rino's Place
The North End gets a lot of the notoriety, but its large immigrant population means East Boston is no slouch when it comes to Italian dining. Rino's, hidden away in a residential neighborhood, attracts in-the-know diners with its top-notch, pretense-free plates. It also lured Guy Fieri, who stopped in for Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
258 Saratoga St.; 617-567-7412
Ball Square: Pescatore
In case the name doesn't make it obvious, seafood is a specialty at this Somerville gem. But don't overlook the large selection of gourmet specialtiy pizzas, or for that matter, the adorable patio.
158 Boston Ave., Somerville; 617-623-0003
Roslindale: Sophia's Grotto
Turn down a small brick alley in Roslindale Village to find this local favorite, where the vibe is comfortable and breezy (literally so, on the patio) and the elevated Italian comfort food earns its buzz. (Photo: Vincent Dewitt.)
22 Birch St.; 617-323-4595