Food, Travel

Waiting at Giacomo’s Ristorante

A long line outside a restaurant, no matter the weather, is a good indication of its worth. Waiting also happens to be an expected part of the dining experience. At least that’s the case for Giacomo’s Ristorante in Boston’s North End.

I’ve eaten at Giacomo’s before and on a visit to Boston last week we went again with family. Certainly, dining at Giacomo’s is a lot like eating with a large, extended family. Loud. Noisy. A little bossy.

Last week, our waitress half-apologized for bringing a large order of deep-fried calamari and not the small one we ordered. “I didn’t want to argue with the cooks,” she says. 

(By the way, the best part of the appetizer is the deep-fried hot peppers.)

I ordered the half lobster, mussels and hard-shelled clams served on linguine with a Fra Diavalo sauce. Great bread. Okay wine. No way I could eat all the pasta.

This isn’t elegant fare. This is food somebody’s Italian mother or aunt would cook for company.

Long ago, I lived in the North End before it got gentrified. Hank and I rented a cold water flat across from the Paul Revere statue. We had to take showers at the high school and shared a toilet with a pull chain with the man across the hall, who often walked around without pants. (The rent was $150 and we had a roommate who had a shoebox of a bedroom.)

We ate at the local restaurants and drank strong coffee. I bought pan pizza at the bakery for lunch.

Giacomo’s wasn’t around then.

So what else to expect at Giacomo’s? No reservations are allowed. A woman patrols the line outside to determine who goes next when a table opens. The wannabe diners stare through the window at the people inside and feel they’re missing out on a good time. They are.
Have a birthday in your party? Let the server know. We did it for our son in-law once and the restaurant staff came from the kitchen, banging pots and pans with wooden spoons and singing in Italian. 
Don’t expect to pay by credit card. Cash only. Giacomo’s doesn’t serve coffee or desserts. This isn’t a place to linger. The restaurant wants people in and out. Badaboom. Badabing.

Craving something sweet to end your meal? The best bet is to go up Hanover Street to Modern Pastry for cannolis and eat them at home.