Tis the season for dining out in the North End! I love this neighborhood year-round, but when summer comes, the windows of the restaurants open on to the streets, there are bustling crowds, and of course the weather is warm enough for gelato!
The North End offers so many different Italian eateries, making it difficult to choose, but when a bunch of us got together for dinner last week I knew I wanted to try Ristorante Damiano. You see, Executive Chef Damien DiPaola is a fellow UMASS alum and owned the Amherst-area restaurant, Carmelina’s, a place I never got to in college. Since I missed Carmelina’s I knew I had to get to Damiano, and we had the perfect night for it.
The interior of Ristorante Damiano features lovely exposed brick, the walls decorated with old North End photos.
Once we got settled at our table, we ordered a bottle of wine, Planeta Segreta Bianco, a blend of Grecanico, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Fiano. Then we started in on the extensive menu.
Damiano features piattini , small plates, and we ordered several to share.
Roasted Beet Salad – Arugula, goat cheese, toasted pignoli, blood orange vinaigrette
This light, refreshing dish offered a peppery bite from the arugula and was a nice, summery way to start the meal.
Lamb Lollipop – Dipped in pistachio crust, mint pesto, rubio glaze, fruit Macedonia.
I didn’t try these, but I loved the presentation!
Garlic Shrimp Sautéed Ebi Shrimp, garlic, thyme, lemon, over spinach
Shrimp and garlicky greens should be on my table every night. I loved the simple. flavorful ingredients
Braised Wild Mushrooms – Garlic, sage, trace of tomato, truffle oil, Parmigiano polenta
The deep earthy flavors of both the mushrooms and the sage went nicely with the pop of juicy tomatoes.
Carbonara – Pancetta, egg, parmigiano, cracked pepper, spaghetti
Mmm creamy, pepper, rich, and delicious. The spaghetti was nice and thick, perfectly coated with sauce
We also had fried baby eggplant in tomato sauce and a steaming bowl of mussels with a side of fresh rolls. I loved every bite of dinner and found the small plates eating style to be fun, especially with friends who are up for trying all sorts of different things.
We followed up dinner with cocktails at nearby Bacco at a table next to an open window, rounding out a perfect North End evening.
Do you have a favorite neighborhood to visit in your city? Is there a restaurant you are more likely to visit with a big group?