Dish Gal's guide to getting the most out of life, one meal at a time...

Panza in the North End

North End residents automatically have a second job: Italian restaurant recommenders. It's usually within the first 10 seconds of someone finding out you live in the NE that they ask which of the dozens of Italian restaurants is your favorite. Now, for Dish Gal, I take this question very seriously. And frankly, it makes me a little stressed-- there are so many North End restaurants I've never been to. That's not because I haven't heard anything good about them, but because I can only have Italian so often, and often I sacrilegiously choose my fave Italian restaurants like Sage and Dante over trying a new one in the North End.

So when I tried new restaurant Panza, I crossed my fingers that it would be delicious so I could recommend it to others. At the risk of giving away the ending of this post, I was not disappointed.
Panza offers one main thing that a lot of other North End places don't--reasonable prices. Pasta and entree dishes very rarely break the $20 mark. The low prices don't mean you have to give anything up, though; the food was tasty, classic, un-fussy Italian fare. I enjoyed the free-form lasagna, made up of black pepper pasta sheets tossed with plum tomatoes, ricotta, chicken, mushrooms, and spinach. The dish was successful, as it differed enough to justify ordering a classic, but didn't change so much that it lost its inherent charm. I thought the chicken was an unnecessary addition, though. True, I notoriously dislike chicken in general (chicken=zzzz to me most of the time), but it seemed to me like an afterthought in this dish, intended to placate those people who would never order a vegetarian dish.

My dining companion was a great friend from Dish Gal's childhood. Back in the day, we enjoyed singing along to "Everybody Dance Now" on her boombox and swimming for hours and hours and hours, stopping only for passing lightning storms or a quick Drumstick ice cream cone from the snack bar.

My friend, let's call her Lynn, ordered the penne amatriciana-- pasta with pancetta, onions, roasted eggplant, fontina cheese, and plum tomato sauce.

Sure, it wasn't her mother's famous bolognese sauce (I still dream of that sauce), but it hit the spot.

I'm not sure if it was the comforting food, the wine, the cozy restaurant, or the great conversation (I'm guessing it was a combination of all of them), but I left this restaurant with a great feeling, and I look back upon my time there with great affection. It gave me that great, indescribable buzz that every North End place should-- that feeling that you can't stop smiling, but also that you'd love to lie down and take a nap ;)

Panza Ristorante on Urbanspoon


Elina said...

Haha, I totally ask NE residents for recommendations as soon as I find out where they live. This one sounds great. Any other favorites? ;)

Dish This! said...

haha! Love your comment.

I usually recommend Ernesto's for pizza, Trattoria di Monica for a reasonably-priced date, and Taranta for Italian with a twist (it's Italian meets Peruvian)