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Boston: Antonio's Cucina Italiana

288 Cambridge Street , Phone: 617-367-3310
www.antoniosofbeaconhill.com

Reviewed by: Jeff H from NH, review #3813

When: 2011

Straigtforward, no frills, honest southern Italian food and lots of it!

Directions: West on Cambridge from Storrow Drive about two blocks - just past Grove Street on the right.

Antonio's Cucina Italiana is not in the famous North End of Boston. In fact one of the cute notes on their menu asks if you're tired of eating in the North End, why not try Antonio's. This is not fu-fu upscale haute Italian...more down home southern Italian, on Cambridge Street two blocks from the Mass General Hospital campus.

It's a small neat and, once crowded, bustling kind of place that is reminiscent of many of the North End eateries, but without the penalty of high prices. The menu is extensive from appetizers to desserts and when we ate there an additional 4 or 5 specials, explained by the owner/waiter.

We came in early by design, knowing the limited space might mean a wait otherwise...and I'm glad we did; the place was full by the time we began our meal: Haddock with homemade fusilli for Sue and a veal shank with a mushroom sauce for me. Neither of us could finish the entrees (true southern Italian portions, I guess), or maybe it was the deep fried artichoke appetizers or maybe it was all the bread before dinner. The veal was crispy on the outside and smothered in sauce with large sliced white mushrooms floating on and all around the meat in a rich tomato sauce. The side of pasta with a simple marinara sauce was truly incidental, but also tasty.

A couple of glasses of wine (one white and one red), but no dessert. Sue really wanted the tiramisu, but she couldn't find the "room" to enjoy it.

The service was attentive, knowledgeable and polite, not obsequious. None of the "Hi, my name is Muffy and I'll be your waitress, tonight!" fake enthusiasm and not a lot of other distractions in the place itself, which was straight eclectic with five tables of four lining both walls and a few tables for two running down the middle of the room. No overtly faux Italian vines and grapes, none of those phony wine bottle displays or even pictures of hot spots in Italy hanging on the walls - just plain, clean tables and chairs on a tile floor and a cash register up front by the single door from the street.

$50 for two, + gratuity. A good deal in an area of town where you can actually find parking, unlike the North End. Good food and plenty of it and plenty of options from which to choose. Southern Italian food that's actually worth the price and NOT in the more famous Little Italy North End.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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