Best Spots for Italian Food in New England

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modern pastry north end

Modern Pastry in Boston’s North End.

Aimee Seavey

Wondering where to find the best Italian food in New England?  Whether its pizza, pasta, or cannoli – we’ve got some “inspiration Italiana” for you!  Mangia!

“Little Italy” Neighborhoods

The North End – Hanover and Salem Streets in Boston, MA
I dare you to ride the T in Boston without spotting at least one passenger toting a string-wrapped bakery box from Mike’s or Modern Pastry in the North End.  Thanks to its more than 75 clustered Italian eateries, bakeries, and markets, the North End draws both locals and tourists alike. From cafes to gelaterias, family restaurants to upscale dining, choices for Italian cuisine are unlimited.  Its placement roughly halfway through the Boston Freedom Trail route (the popular Paul Revere House, Old North Church, and Copp’s Hill Burying Ground are North End stops) also makes it a great place to stop for for a mid-trail lunch, or at least a slice from the original Pizzeria Regina.

Federal Hill – Atwells Avenue in Providence, RI
CNBC named Providence one of America’s “Top 10 Cities for Foodies,” and the city’s Italian offerings make good on that title of recognition.  One of the most densely populated Italian neighborhoods in the country in the early 20th century, Federal Hill is still dominated by Italian markets, delis, bakeries, and restaurants. In warm months, De Pasquale Square has outdoor tables and flowers everywhere–even a large European-style fountain and opera concerts.  Grab something to go and enjoy it outside, like lunch fixings from Venda Ravioli and satisfying sweets from Scialo Brothers Bakery.

Wooster Square in New Haven, CT
Wooster Square in New Haven may be home to numerous Italian cafes, restaurants, and bakeries, but its claim to fame is truly terrific thin-crust pizza.  The most famous varieties come from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s Apizza — just two blocks apart from each other.  Visit both, then weigh in on your pick for which is best in the unofficial (but well-publicized) New Haven Pizza Wars.  Then, if you have room, pick up pastries from either Libby’s or Lucibello’s for the trip home.  Read more about the New Haven Pizza Wars!

Italian Restaurants – Editors’ Picks

Want to skip the neighborhood and go right to a Yankee-approved Italian eatery?  These picks made the cut in our 2013 “Best of New England” list.

Best Italian Cafe
CAFFÉ PREGO – Ogunquit, ME
Murano glass, Venetian Carnivale masks, and Florentine wood trays are the background for authentic Italian flavors served within steps of Ogunquit Beach. The Italian-sourced coffee is the perfect complement to the pastries, while the paninis and brick-oven thin-crust pizzas earn raves.  44 Shore Road. 207-646-7734; caffepregoogt.com

Best Vermont Italian
This tiny upstairs Slow Food restaurant gem is arguably Vermont’s most authentic Italian restaurant, serving a limited menu of home-cooked recipes that change with the harvest. The house charcuterie shines among the antipasti, and the polenta is always a winner for the pasta course. 61 Central St. 802-457-4882; osteriapaneesalute.com

Best Boston Italian
For Italian food with the modernist spirit of Milan, head to this little spot near the Theatre District for seared mushrooms with taleggio cheese, wild arugula, and lovage–or chef Charles Draghi’s signature rack of wild boar with lavender-scented Concord-grape sauce. 69 Church St. 617-426-6969; erbaluce-boston.com


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