Giacomo’s in Boston’s North End

Giacomo's Menu

Trip Taken: 2010

After a couple of meals eating at Chinese places and random light-healthy fare in Boston, I was ready for something really hearty. I was ready for some carb-laden pasta with a rich sauce. During my research on yelp, urbanspoon, and wikitravel, one Italian eatery stood out for being recognized in each of those online sites, Giacomo’s. Great seafood pasta at reasonable prices seemed to be the consensus. So it was another trip to the North End of Boston to feast on some delectable Italian cuisine.

Walking into the North End during dinner time, you are hit almost immediately with the aroma of herbs, roasting meats, coffee, pastries, and seafood. Every other storefront has cheery diners eating their delicious looking dinners in the dim light of dusk. Fair warning. Just walking through this neighborhood will make you hungry. It’s like walking through your Italian friend’s kitchen with her mom cooking dinner. The first time my brother and I stopped here, we had to stop and get cannolis. It’s a good thing that this time around, we had a destination in mind.

If you get to Giacomo’s at the height of dinner time, you will most likely be waiting in line for a while. Pro tips for eating at Giacomo’s: Arrive early or late to beat the crowds (they have a no reservations policy) and come with a group no bigger than three. It is definitely not a restaurant for groups and smaller groups will leap frog bigger groups.

Pile on the Calamari

Calamari

First thing we ordered was a large plate of calamari fritti. It was a great choice. The calamari batter was light, flaky, and the perfect color of golden crisp. The choice of ordering calamari seemed to inspire many other tables to order the calamari. The group to the right of us ordered it. The group in front of us ordered it and the group to the left of us ordered it. The group behind us would have ordered it too if they existed. Behind us was the kitchen.

The funny thing about the calamari plates were that some of the wait staff would eat right off the plates they were serving. Good thing that didn’t happen to us because I would have been pissed for a good portion of the night. I’m kind of like Joey from the TV show ‘Friends’ when it comes to food; I don’t share food. If it’s meant to be shared like the calamari plate, then I have no problem with it. But you better keep your hands to yourself if you want keep ‘em. Haha. Just kidding. No seriously, hands near my food = hand is gone.

Seafood, Linguini, and Giacomo Sauce

Linguini Frutti di Mare

The decision of what entree to order was pretty simple: Linguini Frutti di Mare. It is one of my go to pasta dishes at any Italian place that serves it. My old standby of Chicken Marsala is not so popular everywhere. Plus, I love seafood more than chicken. The thing with Giacomo’s pasta is that none of them have a standard sauce. You get to choose from the five sauces they have: pesto, red, fra diavolo, giacomo, and scampi. Our waitress recommended the giacomo sauce. I think the fra diavolo sauce is the same as the giacomo sauce except with a little bit of a kick to it. The giacomo is a tomato lobster-based sauce and it was.. SO good with the pasta. Pasta was hot and the food was exceptional. I loved it and I found myself cleaning up the sauce with leftover bread.

My brother got the same pasta but with lobster. I probably should have ordered what he got since his entree was only three dollars more. Three dollars more for a half lobster is not bad at all. But in the end, he generously footed the bill so no complaints on my part. The lobster would have been the cherry on a scrumptious seafood pasta.

More Cannoli from Mike’s

After our dinner, we went to Mike’s Pastries again for cannolis. One thing I will say about our dessert was that we got it wrong. My brother’s roommates later told us that Modern Pastry across the street is famous for their cannolis and Mike’s is actually famous for their cheesecake. I will definitely remember that next time I’m in the area for dinner. One great place to take your dessert is the cafe right next to Mike’s called Espresso Cafe. You will see other patrons with take out boxes from Modern Pastry and Mike’s so don’t feel so bad. They serve a mean coffee and it’s a great way to round out a relaxing night of dining out.

Parting Words

I didn’t really know that there was a huge Italian enclave in Boston but now I know. It seems to be much more active than the one in San Francisco’s North Beach. Of course, I think there are only a few Italians left in SF’s North Beach. It seems to me that Chinatown is ever so slowly creeping in to the territory. If the Chinese won’t get them, then the hipsters will.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.