When one of my friends came to town for a visit, I wanted to take him somewhere great, so of course I went for the atmosphere and history of the North End. Recently, a friend mentioned that she had seen gluten-free pizza signs in the North End, so I Googled a few options and went with the one with the best rating: Benevento’s.
Boston’s North End is famous for its rich history and incredible Italian food. Nothing makes for a better night on the town than a good meal and then a walk through the narrow, lively streets, maybe to the nearby Improv Asylum. I really want to see their homage to the MBTA.
Before my diagnosis, I used to love exploring the restaurants and bakeries in the area, my favorite being Bova’s Bakery (in my opinion, ten times better than Mike’s Pastry, but that doesn’t matter for my gluten-free readers, as neither venue stocks g/f fare). For the past three years, I had thought that because of the gluten-y nature of much Boston-area Italian food, that the North End was a dietary no-fly zone.
While their website doesn’t say anything about gluten-free options, Beneventos is listed on Yelp as offering gluten-free options. When I called to make the reservation, I was able to confirm with the hostess that they offer gluten-free pasta, pizza and beer. When we arrived, I noticed a street placard proudly touting their gluten-free options. The venue next door also has gluten-free options.
The restaurant is lively. The wood-fired ovens are staged next to the bar. Diners can watch the chefs toss, stretch and roll the dough. Because of the size and location of the pizza area and bar, the rest of the space is relatively narrow. The décor is simple, but interesting with pressed tin ceilings and a marble bar. The restaurant is casual, with pizzas served on tin plates atop tomato cans.
There were a few muted TVs throughout the restaurant tuned to various sports games. It still escapes me why so many non-sports bar/restaurants have these silent mood killers. If the venue is not a sports bar: it just brings down the atmosphere by distracting half the diners from their companions.
Unless, for all intents and purposes, I want to be dining alone, I have to ask Husband to sit with his back to the TV. Even when the sport is NASCAR, which he dislikes, he still gets so distracted, I could be talking about horrible things, like decorating our whole house in pink lame and he just smiles and nods. It’s worse than going to Hooters. At least there I have the amusement of wondering if they are real or fake.
Anyway, aside from the silent intrusion, the atmosphere in the restaurant was low key. Our waitress came by and read the specials, all of which sounded great, but I skipped through the rest of the huge menu of salads, pasta and meats to the pizza.
I mentioned my gluten allergy and the waitress seemed very comfortable answering questions about the menu. I went with the Vodka Classic Pizza. Husband ordered the regular dough Richie’s Favorite Pizza and my friend ordered gnocchi in a tomato cream sauce.
When our food arrived, my pizza was on an individual, disposable tin, which ensured that it did not touch the reusable pizza pans, which was great and really signaled to me that they are very conscious about potential cross-contamination. My pizza was fantastic. The cheese was all brown and bubbly. The prosciutto was crispy around the edges and the sauce was really flavorful.
My friend really enjoyed his gnocchi. He said it was well-executed. Husband loved his pizza. Husband and I were only able to eat about half of our pizzas. We were able to put them in the same box, since mine had the little tin to keep it safe and separate from Husband’s slices.
One thing I didn’t realize when booking our reservation, is that Benevento’s does not serve dessert. In the end we went next door to an extremely mediocre gelato joint.
I would definitely recommend Beneventos for a casual, quick meal in the North End.