Casual Dining Without the Tourists

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Outside Beneventos, the best spot for casual dining without the tourists. 111 Salem Street.

Outside Beneventos, the best spot for casual dining without the tourists. Located at 111 Salem Street.

On Sunday, my boyfriend’s parents took a trip into the city to help us with our taxes (mine are DONE, phew!). After a grueling DIY H&R Block session, we desperately needed some food. The Red Sox were playing the Yankees so a television was a must. Since this was a family outing after all, we wanted a casual dining experience that didn’t scream sports bar.

Enter Beneventos, perhaps my favorite spot for laid-back neighborhood dining. The food isn’t going to win any awards but it’s reliably good and relatively cheap. Although it’s right on Salem Street, the restaurant rarely has a wait and gets a lot of local patrons. As a bonus, small flat screen TVs placed high on the walls make for an unobtrusive way for the sports fan in your life to keep an eye on the game and an eye on the table.

The restaurant does accept reservations. Try their brick oven pizzas, anything in vodka sauce or arrabbiata sauce and you won’t be disappointed. Avoid the bread basket, it’s not worth the calories (see my post about Bricco’s bread which IS worth the calories). Also, your check always comes with limoncello shots on the house. Enjoy and bottoms up!

How the Locals Eat at Regina Pizzeria

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Since 1926, the Polcari family has been making pizza at 11 1/2 Thacher Street in Boston’s North End. The chain now includes over 20 locations but the original restaurant is a humble place with battered booths and paper plates. Wine is served in plastic cups and you can get beer by the pitcher or in mismatched pint glasses. Reservations are not accepted so there is usually a line of tourists waiting to be seated. The pizza is pricey but the crust is incredible and their signature garlic oil – lovingly called “crack” by some of the staff – make it worth it. This spot is great for a casual date night or dinner with friends. Here are four suggestions to get your Regina fix the local way:

1. Go on a Monday night – I’ve observed that lines on Mondays are short or nonexistent.

2. Go in a duo or at max a trio and grab a seat at the bar. You can order the full menu and you don’t have to wait in line.

3. If you live nearby, call ahead and get takeout. You can order pizza by the slice – cheese, pepperoni, and featured special. Or, you can order any pizza on the menu by the pie.

4. Don’t miss the yearly Coupon Calendar that staff give out to patrons in December. The calendar features TWO monthly coupons for different pizzas ranging from the ever-popular Giambotta to the classic Margherita (pictured). Discounts vary from $3-$5 but it makes the pizza just a little bit more affordable for the cash-strapped who want to eat something better than DiGiorno.

A single slice of Regina's Margherita pizza thanks to the February coupon.

A single slice of Regina’s Margherita pizza made a delicious dinner at home. Coupon from February. 

The 2014 Coupon Calendar

The 2014 Coupon Calendar features two coupons per month!

How to Beat the Lines at Giacomo’s Ristorante

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Outside Giacomo’s in the South End.

Giacomo’s has a reputation for creative specials and reliably superb food at a very reasonable price point. The kicker is that the North End eatery always has a wait that often wraps around the block. In the rain, in the cold, on a Monday – you will wait. Make no mistake, your entire party must be present and no, you may not leave your phone number and come back later.

What if you could eat at Giacomo’s Ristorante without the wait? You can.

Giacomo’s Ristorante on Hanover Street in the North End has a sister location on Columbus Avenue in the South End. The menus are identical and in fact the South End location offers more variety. The specials are often different but  the Columbus Avenue eatery has three amenities you won’t find at the historic North End location:

  1. Reservations can be made via phone with a hostess.
  2. Coffee & dessert – think chocolate lava cake – mean no waiting in line at Mike’s or Modern.
  3. Valet parking is offered for $15.

Wherever you end up for dinner, remember that both Giacomo’s Ristorante locations are cash only so make sure to stop at an ATM.

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Jason ordered a special – pappardelle pasta in a sweet braised pulled pork sauce. We’re sharing a bottle of the house Montepulciano.