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Wicked Bites – Antico Forno (Boston, MA)  

Antico Forno Cucina A Legna – Boston’s North End

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Top Ten Italian Restaurants Around the World: 9. Antico Forno Boston, MA

Antico Forno is billed as “The Most Authentic Italian Restaurant,” and we’re hard pressed to argue. This mainstay in Boston’s North End manages a cozy mom-and-pop atmosphere with world-class traditional cuisine. Entrees like Saltimbocca di Pollo and Linguine al Frutti di Mare hearken back to the old country, but Antico Forno is best known for its brick-oven pizzas piled high with house-made Italian sausages and mozzarella.

 

“No gimmicks, no kitsch”, just traditional Neapolitan pizzas from a wood-fired brick oven and other “spot-on” Southern Italian fare set apart this “well-priced” North End stalwart; the “lively”, “loud” space is an “everyday destination”, so “get there early” or “plan for a wait.”  by Zagat

Best of Boston

2012 BEST North End Restaurant, Neighborhood : Antico Forno

Dining at a lively North End restaurant doesn’t have to mean slurping spaghetti in tight quarters. In fact, Antico Forno is spacious enough to accommodate a weeknight impulse visit, family in tow. The thin-crusted pizzas from the brick oven are divine (our favorite is topped with artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, and white truffle oil), as are hearty pasta dishes like linguine baked in parchment with tomato sauce and a generous serving of shellfish.

10BEST Says (#8 Boston Family Friendly)

Best Value: Traditional Italian baked in a brick oven sets this Italian restaurant apart. Serving a selection of pastas, entrees and pizzas all cooked to perfection in their famous brick oven at reasonable prices, Antico Forno is a good value. Kid friendly (although lacking a children’s menu), Antico Forno serves even the littlest one sin style. Serving some of the best pies around, Antico Forno carries a large selection of toppings to help you make your pizza a balanced meal. One pizza could easily feed a few people, but stopping with the pizza would be a crime. But Antico Forno is more than a North End family pizza joint, it’s a experience win Italian dining. Offering customer favorite like baked gnocchi and parmagiana di vitello you’ll enjoy every bite of your main course.

Family Friendly, Best of Boston’s North End: Traditional Italian baked in a brick oven make this kid friendly, North End pizzeria a favorite. Serving some of the best pies around, Antico Forno carries a large selection of toppings to help you make your pizza a balanced meal. One pizza could easily feed a few people, but stopping with the pizza would be a crime. Antico Forno also offers an excellent selection of baked pasta dishes and tasty appetizers. Most meals are under $20 and are big enough to share. The casual setting of this inviting neighborhood trattoria provides a truly authentic Neapolitan experience. And you’ll be able to get your fix of Italian red specialties that could move your Italian Grandma to the second best “gravy” you’ve had.

Fodor’s Review

Many of the menu choices here come from the eponymous wood-burning brick oven, which turns out surprisingly delicate pizzas simply topped with tomato and fresh buffalo mozzarella. Though its pizzas receive top billing, Antico excels at a variety of Italian country dishes. Don’t overlook the hearty baked dishes and handmade pastas; the specialty, gnocchi, is rich and creamy but light. The joint is cramped and noisy, but also homey and comfortable—which means that your meal will resemble a raucous dinner with an adopted Italian family.

Boston’s Best Brick Oven Pizzas

Boston has countless restaurants throughout town featuring everyone’s favorite treat, pizza. But the best pizza spots in Boston use brick ovens since they create the best quality pies you could ask for. By using these ovens, they are able to heat the pizzas in just minutes to high temperatures. You get evenly-cooked, browned, thin-crisp crust on the outside with a chewy texture on the inside. Plus the sauce is warmed, the cheese is melted and the toppings are cooked to perfection. Whether you like to keep it simple with a cheese pizza or go all out with veggies and meats, the following spots will not disappoint.

Also featuring brick-oven pizza in the North End is Antico Forno. The menu offers plenty of baked pasta dishes, but the pizzas are also a favorite. Antico serves delicious authentic Neapolitan pizza for $12.50 with fresh plum tomato sauce, aromatic oregano and roasted garlic, sans cheese, or go for a classic with the Margherita made from fresh housemade mozzarella, plum tomato sauce and fresh basil for just $13. But there is something to be said about the Carciofi E Porcini pizza where Antico takes artichoke hearts, imported Italian porcini mushrooms, mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, finishing the pizza off with a touch of white truffle oil, or the Vesuvio with mozzarella, roasted peppers, ricotta cheese, cherry tomatoes and fresh sliced prosciutto.

CitySearch Review:

Reasonably priced gourmet Italian cuisine, prepared in traditional brick-oven style.

The Scene
Owner Carla Gomes has found a great balance between down-home and downtown southern Italian food. The result? A restaurant serving top-notch food at prices that even students and families can afford. Antico Forno is loud, but still a charmer–this country mouse has all the right moves.

The Food
Most everything is cooked in a burning brick oven, as the restaurant’s name implies (antico forno means “old oven”). The salsiccia e broccoletti pizza is a marvel of fresh dough, bitter broccoli rabe, homemade sausage and buffalo mozzarella. And they’re not kidding about the brick-oven thing; lamb, chicken dishes, even the mashed potatoes, have that caramelized, crispy crust that comes from searing with intense heat.

Boston Globe:

A well-prepared selection of rustic dishes: brick-oven pizzas, roasted vegetables, entrees in terra cotta pots, and good bread and olives. Good place for a date and a bottle of red.

Falling for an Italian lunch at Antico Forno

Most people would rather stave off the inevitable end of summer than revel in it, but there are reasons to look forward to fall. One of them is lunch at Antico Forno.

On restaurant-cluttered Salem Street, Antico Forno is distinguished from its neighbors by the big brick oven that dominates the back wall. Dishes are sent to this oven to be “finished” — gnocchi , for instance, is covered with a basil-laden plum-tomato sauce and topped with slabs of smoked mozzarella, then relegated for its final minutes to the high heat of the oven. The mozzarella gets slightly browned, and the red clay pot the dish is served in radiates enough heat to warm you from a foot away. Another great entrée is the ribollita , a hearty Tuscan bread soup made with vegetables, cannellini beans, and parmesan cheese. The soup is too heavy for sundress-and-sandals season, but it’s perfect for autumn and will probably be even better come winter.

Naples, Florence, and Milan, all in one North End restaurant : Antico Forno

Ribollita: it’s a Tuscan soup that’s “reboiled.” Can advertising your dish as leftovers hook customers? Believe me, this concoction of white beans, red cabbage, red onion, leeks, garlic, celery or fennel, carrots, tomato, and ham, all soaked up with generous slices of unsalted bread, will gladden the heart of any Florentine. Like most stews, it just gets better with reheating.

When I walked into Antico Forno, I though that it must be a Tuscan restaurant. It has a homey, rustic atmosphere characteristic of central Italy: brick-brown square-tiled floor, terra-cotta walls, simple wooden tables and chairs, hanging lights and ceiling fans, dried flowers in vases on the wall. On one side, a hutch with bottles of the house red and loaves of country bread; on the other, a wood-fired brick oven with a statue of St. Rocco in its alcove, and a huge standing vase in what looks from a distance like one of the famous Deruta patterns . You could be sitting in a friend’s kitchen in Cortona, or Castiglion Fiorentino.

Antico Forno is a cozy, neighborhood kind of place; many of the customers, you’ll observe, are well known to the serving staff. This is not a restaurant for intimate dinners or discreet conversations; when it’s crowded it can be quite noisy. It is a place to enjoy hearty, honest food at fair prices.

That is, as long as you don’t fill up on the country bread and olives in green oil that land on your table when you sit down. The lunch menu offers soups (that ribollita), salads (buffalo mozzarella and tomato;), sandwiches (oven-roasted lamb; grilled chicken breast with fresh mozzarella), pastas (linguine with clams and mussels; rigatoni ), and pizzas baked in that wood oven. Dinner adds some new appetizers and pastas, plus an entree list: oven-roasted chicken with garlic and herbs, wood-grilled swordfish with a balsamic vinaigrette, rabbit baked in agrodolce sauce. There are also specials, usually seafood-oriented — lobster ravioli, for example, or blue marlin.

The ribollita arrives in a terra-cotta crock and offers the same country goodness, even without any cabbage: cannellini and vegetables drizzled with parmesan and olive oil, served with ample bread to soak it up. Baby octopus and mussels in a spicy plum-tomato sauce and rolled eggplant stuffed with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, and basil and baked in tomato sauce are similarly excellent. The oven-roasted lamb sandwich with Calabrian peppers and onions is a delightfully messy affair, the thick bread soaking up the juices. The mixed-green salad — actually red and green — exemplifies what’s right about this restaurant: no pretension, just fresh radicchio, mesclun, arugula, and romaine in a balsamic vinaigrette.

The pastas, all of which are served in some variety of fresh plum-tomato sauce, reflect Antico Forno’s Neapolitan origins. Linguine with calamari in a puttanesca sauce didn’t give much evidence of the promised capers, and the pasta, al dente on arrival, continued to cook in the dish. But the tomato sauce was fresh and nicely balanced, and the calamari rings and tentacles were tender. Pizza with artichoke hearts, porcini, cherry tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella was the best I have ever had.

The entrees move north, to Tuscany and Lombardy. Roasted veal stuffed with spinach, mushrooms, and fontina and served with a three-cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan) asparagus risotto seemed to have been marinated in milk or cream and cooked with black pepper and olive oil. It’s a superb example of Milanese cuisine, the softness and creaminess of the veal complementing the smoothness of the perfectly cooked risotto.

Antico Forno gives you the best of Italian country cooking.