Quietly tucked away in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the country, across a tiny square from Paul Revere’s house in Boston’s historic North End, is a little restaurant called Mamma Maria. Once a charming house, the cozy restaurant now serves some of the best Italian food in an area known for its Italian food.
After an exciting day watching the Red Sox at Fenway, we spent a relaxing evening at Mamma Maria. In a very stark contrast to the beers, sausages and greasy fries we’d munched on earlier at the game, our leisure meal here consisted of delicately picked ingredients, painstakingly slow-roasted dishes and small sips of wine. It was also our last dinner in Boston and we were determined to make it count.
The meal started with house-made pesto and freshly made bread. The dense, warm bread was incredibly delicious but the pesto was breath-taking. It put every other pesto I’ve ever tasted to shame. I realized right then that this would be no ordinary dinner. The first of our two appetizers was artichokes two ways ($13), meaning in marinated and flan form. The marinated version was familiar in texture but with an intense, almost roasted flavor, while the flan side was unexpectedly creamy, with only the slightest artichoke taste.
We also picked a classic mozzarella and tomatoes ($16), and like the pesto, somehow made anything similar I’ve had before suddenly become nonexistent. The baby heirloom tomatoes were bursting with juicy flavor, balanced to perfection with the rich buffalo mozzarella, apparently flown in fresh from Apulia, Italy.
I read that Mamma Maria is famous for their Osso Buco, made with veal in the classic style and served with saffron risotto ($38). One online reviewer even admitted to scheduling layovers with enough time to have it, so Laurin and I both ordered it. It was rich and savory, familiar in that it struck that comforting cord but so incredibly delicious that it was also unique. When our server explained that it had been roasted for over 16 hours, I was certain that few restaurants took the time to do that.
Curtis ordered the suckling pig, a glazed and slow-roasted pig from Quebec topped with fig jam, beets and toasted faro ($29). Fall-apart tenderness with that subtle sweetness that is so amazing about pork, it was a wonderness of sugary savoriness.
We definitely made the right choice for our last dinner in Boston. Mamma Maria has received some impressive reviews (including one of the top 25 restaurants in Boston) and while sometimes that can be all hype, that is not the case here. There is a reason it’s a Boston staple and I can’t wait to go back.
Go to Mamma Maria for :: the cute house-like atmosphere, the outstanding service and incredible food. Note :: Reservations are available online.