When people think of dining in the North End of Boston, they typically think of restaurants along Hanover Street and Salem Street, which are the two main commercials streets in the neighborhood. There are a number of good Italian restaurants, however, that are located just off the beaten path along some of the narrow side streets of this charming section of Boston. A few examples include Pagliuca's on Parmenter Street, Vinoteca di Monica on Richmond Street, and Pizzeria Regina on Thacher Street (the latter of which is a very popular place, even though it is hidden away a bit). And one other particularly good dining spot that is tucked away in the neighborhood is a homey little spot called La Summa, which may be one of the North End's top restaurants to go to for old-fashioned Southern Italian cooking.
La Summa is a cozy little restaurant that is hidden away on Fleet Street, just south of Hanover Street and a world away from the crowds that are typically found over there. The eatery is small but comfortable, with a couple of window sections, a main dining area, and a tiny private-feeling back room, with the tables throughout the space being just far enough away from each other to allow for quiet conversation. There is no hint of pretension here, as La Summa is simply a place to get a great meal at a reasonable price. And the meals can indeed be quite good here. Perhaps the pick of the menu is the fantastic Pappardelle E Melanzane, which is a delectable mix of wide homemade noodles with eggplant, basil, and garlic in a zesty red sauce. But there are other terrific items on the menu as well, including a house salad which is anything but basic, featuring a delightful mix of strawberries, field greens, figs, walnuts, and gorgonzola cheese; pasta fagioli, a soup offered on special that features pasta and beans and has a hearty broth that is perfect on a cold winter night; arancini, which are rice balls made with lots of gooey cheese; pasta spinaci, which features small bits of delicious Italian ham, sundried tomatoes, house-made pasta, and spinach in a rich cream sauce; and the tender veal with prosciutto and mushrooms in a sweet wine sauce.
La Summa is rarely mentioned in discussions of the best Italian restaurants in Boston, but the restaurant does have one of the North End's best specific Southern Italian dishes in the Pappardelle E Melanzane. Any fan of homemade pasta would probably fall in love with this dish, or for that matter, many of the other entrees at this humble little restaurant near North Square. If you are a pasta lover, it would be tough to find a better combination of quality, price, and atmosphere than what you can find at La Summa.
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