The Daily Catch – Boston, MA

Boston, Food Adventures

After watching the Boston episode of Bizarre Foods America and being inspired to visit some of the same places that Andrew Zimmern did, I was especially excited to swing by The Daily Catch in the North End to try the fresh squid ink pasta. Whenever I see a menu with an al nero di seppia or tinta de calamar pasta dish, I just have to have it… especially here at The Daily Catch, where the infamous black pasta (homemade!) stars in the center of the chalkboard menu.

The Daily Catch menu

The Daily Catch menu

The first thing we noticed was just how small the restaurant is – a teeny, tiny shoebox that seats no more than 20 people at any given time. The dining area wraps around a very open kitchen. So open, in fact, that I could feel a slight breeze each time the chef reached for the giant tin of olive oil stored just behind my spot. It definitely added to the experience being able to watch the process and listen to the controlled chaos as the friendly guys helped (and poked fun at) each other.

The Open Kitchen

The Open Kitchen

Of course, I had to try the homemade black pasta and selected the appetizer portion prepared aglio olio. Though literally translated as “garlic and oil,” the pasta aglio olio here is so much more. The perfectly al dente pasta was coated in garlicky sauteed ground squid and glistening (but not greasy) with olive oil. The homemade pasta was pulled with a thickness reminiscent of udon and sharing its chewy and firm texture. I savored every last bite and, at the end, used a single tine of my fork to pick up the remaining crumbs of the flavorful ground squid. SO FREAKING GOOD.

Black (Tinta de Calamari) Pasta Aglio Olio

Black (Tinta de Calamari) Pasta Aglio Olio

Martin was hoping to try skate (as seen on TV) but the chef had not even heard of the fish, let alone serve it on his menu. So he decided to go with a small order of the fried calamari and a side of marinara sauce. You really can’t go wrong with fried calamari, but the one here is pretty stellar. The crunchy batter was not too thick or grainy, the squid was fresh (the body was cut into strips and not those rubbery pre-cut frozen rings), and there were plenty of leg/tentacle pieces to fight over. The sauce arrived piping hot!

Fried Calamari

Fried Calamari

Frankly, if I lived anywhere near the North End, you can bet I’d be lunching here on a daily basis. The dishes we ordered were delicious and I appreciated the no-frills (I’m sensing a theme here) atmosphere. Just remember to bring cash (and lots of it if you plan to experience the Lobster Fra Diavolo at about $75 for 2). Also, we were seated right away for our lunch visit, but we hear the wait could get crazy at times. And it’s small, so plan smart – don’t take your whole entourage here, just a BFF or two. Enjoy~!

Lunch of Champions

Lunch of Champions

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Check out The Daily Catch: thedailycatch.com

323 Hanover St
(between Lathrop Pl & Prince St)
Boston, MA 02113

See their Yelp reviews here!

Giacomo’s Ristorante – Boston, MA

Boston, Food Adventures

With so many Italian restaurants serving pasta on the North End, it was difficult to know where to begin searching for the best. After looking up several local favorites, we came upon Giacomo’s Ristorante and felt reassured when we saw the line going out-the-door. We were well-trained in the art of waiting after the many visits to Daikokuya back home. Giacomo’s seemed to be one of those restaurants that, regardless of the time of day, there was most assuredly going to be a wait. After only a few short minutes in line, it became evident that we weren’t the only newbies to Giacomo’s; many people stopped and peered at the line and menu, often asking “Is this place really that good?” I’ll answer that question later.

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Giacomo’s Ristorante, located right on Hanover

An hour later, we were seated at a cozy two-top next to the “Specials” wall, making it impossible to view it but amazingly close to the open kitchen with its wall of copper cookware. Each one of the 20 or so seats had only inches separating it from the next. Despite being purely the luck-of-the-draw, the tables next to the window were definitely the worst spots simply because all the hungry, slightly irritated (I would know) patrons would be staring you down, Jedi mind-tricking you to eat faster and leave.

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The open kitchen with its copper back-splash and hanging copper pots

At Giacomo’s, the pace is fast and it may even be considered rude to nurse that second glass of wine. It’s reminiscent of the lack of pleasantries and hand-holding at some Vietnamese restaurants. Our waitress basically threw the menus at us, quickly explained how the combinations of pasta and sauces worked, and hurried off to another table. We weren’t offended at all and openly embraced this high-speed dining experience.

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Large order of fried calamari to start…with deep fried pickled peppers to my dismay.

Definitely one of the best calamari I’ve ever tasted. The batter was perfectly seasoned with a slight kick of the pickled peppers sprinkled throughout. They look SO much like a calamari ring the way they were sliced and totally blew my taste buds before Alice pointed out their true identity. She happily ate the rest of them. The marinara was so flavorful we had to ask for a second helping to accompany the calamari. I honestly could have gone with three large orders of the calamari and be content…sans pickled peppers.

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Garlic Bread – charred and packed with flavor

We also picked up an order of the garlic bread, which used olive oil instead of butter. The strong garlic flavor might have turned off other diners but we enjoy bold flavors like this. The drawback was that the edges of the bread were burnt, causing every other bite to be bitter even though we had removed most of the burnt edges. I was disappointed because although Alice had plenty of garlic bread middles (her favorite part), I was missing out on the garlic bread crusts (my favorite part).

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Special: homemade fusilli with lobster and shrimp in fra diavolo

Alice decided to branch out from the main menu and select a dish off the day’s list of specials – the homemade fusilli with lobster and shrimp in a fra diavolo sauce. With the allure of homemade pasta coupled with a sauce so spicy it bears the name of the devil himself, she just could not resist and was very happy with her choice. The pasta was al dente, the sauce was piping hot in temperature and spice, and the chunks of lobster and shrimp were fresh and plentiful. For those who can’t quite take the heat, Giacomo’s also offered this dish with the house Giacomo sauce (red, non-spicy marinara) or half-and-half with the fra diavolo to lessen the blow.

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Lobster ravioli in garlic cream sauce

I went with one of my favorites, lobster ravioli with diced tomatoes in a garlic cream sauce. The lobster meat was generous and ravioli thin enough to let the flavors of the lobster shine through. The cream sauce wasn’t heavy and along with the tomatoes, made the dish very enjoyable.

The check came as quickly as our menus. In the end, we gave up on the garlic bread due to its bitter, burnt crust. The rest of the meal gave us a better appreciation for authentic Italian flavors. Los Angeles does have some great Italian restaurants but the sheer density of delicious Italian eateries in Boston is truly impressive. Giacomo’s is one of those places we were glad to have saved our valuable, limited stomach real estate for.

In and out in under 45 minutes… less time than we had waited for our seats. And yes, it is THAT good.

So when in the North End with time to kill, drop by Giacomo’s. No time? Call ahead and pick up!

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Check out Giacomo’s Ristorante online at: www.giacomosblog-boston.blogspot.com

355 Hanover St
(between Tileston St & Clark St)
Boston, MA 02113

Check them out on Yelp! here!