Boston has a well known North End neighborhood with Italian cuisine. Giacomo's is one of those names that is consistently among the top of the popularity ranks for taste and hype. I ate there a few months ago with Douglas, and we decided to hit up the South End location on a weekday to avoid the usual wait at their North End restaurant.
We started with the fried calamari, what seems to be the quintessential dish across all cultures and cuisines. It was a huge portion for a party of two, but we downed it easily.
We followed with mussels in white wine sauce, garlic sauce. I was a bit surprised because most of their selection was an ingredient and then presented with a list of sauces that you can choose to pair things with. I guess it makes it more convenient for the diner who wants mussels in a marinara sauce, but not something I'm accustomed to seeing at a restaurant menu.
We then shared the chicken Marsala over linguini and lobster ravioli. Both were served in satisfyingly big portions, but neither were particularly Italian besides the fact that they use Italian pasta.
Giacomo's is listed as one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston, however, I did not find too much Italian influence. Having just visited several cities in Italy and growing up in an Italian-immigrant neighborhood in Manhattan, I think I have a good sense of what Italian food should taste like. If anything. Giacomo's menu is Italian American (like Don Peppe's), which I find to be a very different dining experience, things ranging from menu choices to presentation, from an Italian menu (like Il Mulino). But even being Italian American, it did not reach the caliber of what I was expecting. At best, it's good American comfort food.
And finally, we ended with tartufo. This was delicious vanilla and chocolate ice cream with an espresso powder covering, however, it was not the tartufo I was expecting, which is traditionally served with some form of a hard chocolate coat.
Giacomo's has a snug seating area, comfortable ambiance, satisfying portions for a reasonable price, and familiar flavors. Don't go if you're expecting a traditional Italian meal, because that's not what you're going to be getting. Sorry Boston restaurant reviewers, I cannot agree that this is the "BEST ITALIAN FOOD" or my favorite restaurant in Boston. Also, bring cash; they don't accept credit card.
431 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02116