I warned you 2012 was going to kick off with a slew of North End restaurant posts! I'm finally getting all caught up over here. Thanks for all the great comments and feedback. Sounds like a lot of you are itching to pay a visit to the neighborhood. (Be sure and let me know when you do!)
The food came out in a timely manner, beginning with a surprisingly wonderful bowl of Mussels Marinara ($11.95). I say surprisingly because after the initial realization that only two other tables were in the restaurant and we didn't feel entirely welcome there to begin with, we were a bit skeptical of what to expect from the kitchen. The red sauce was incredibly flavorful with chunky tomatoes, thick slices of onion and a generous dusting of fresh green herbs. It did the steamed mussels proud. Further enhancing the appetizer were four slices of just crispy enough and perfectly buttery toast. On a low note, my Spaghetti Carbonara ($16.95) came swimming in a cream sauce and was rather bland. What should typically be a classic egg and Parmesan cheese sauce was disappointingly and abundantly creamy, not to mention super thick and somewhat cloying. It weighed me down and it weighed the spaghetti down, too. I did enjoyed the thick cubes of pancetta, they were tender and added a welcome saltiness.
Some fresh cracked black pepper might have helped its cause. (Their salt and pepper shakers looked like they hadn't been changed since 1992.) Unfortunately, this was not a dish I could truly get excited about. This was further evidenced by the fact that I never felt compelled to eat the leftovers I took home. If you're looking for a good carbonara in the neighborhood, I'm partial to the ones at Artu and Ristorante Daimiano. However, if you're looking for a good Tiramisu ($7.95), look no further. Homemade with espresso soaked ladyfingers, pillowy brandy infused mascarpone cheese, and cocoa, this large portion looked like way to much to take on, but ended up being the perfect amount. The tiramisu itself was supremely light and fluffy; this was exactly they type of dessert I needed after a heavy entree. Traditional, comforting and not too sweet, with a whimsical presentation, what's not to love?
A frothy cup of Cappuccino ($4) completed the meal. With an abundance of restaurants to choose from in the North End, establishments definitely have the power to sway me even after one visit. Piccola Venezia doesn't happen to make the cut of my personal favorites; all things considered. Taking into account the varied level of affection for the dishes I sampled, it was still a good meal at a very reasonable price point that left me satisfied but not necessarily eager to return.