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A tiny North End Italian joint that’s sure to satisfy

RESTAURANT REVIEW: The Daily Catch

There is something about the North End that keeps me coming back. Not only does the neighborhood boast perhaps the largest number of bakeries in the Boston area (and some the most mouthwatering pastries ever), it is also home to some of Boston’s best family-owned, boutique-sized restaurants. One downside, however, is the seemingly endless wait for a hearty weekend meal and cannoli; it is no secret that most people buy the notion that long lines mean good food.

So one fine Friday afternoon some friends and I ventured out of Medford/Somerville and across the river into Boston. Having planned for this trip forever, we decided that the only [immediate] way to satiate our North End pasta cravings was to arrive at the Haymarket stop by 5:00 p.m. It may have been a little too early for dinner, but believe me: you would not want to fight the North End crowd on an empty stomach—especially the crowd at The Daily Catch.

Located across the street from the infamous Mike’s Pastry, The Daily Catch is rather hard to miss. Despite being the tiniest of all storefronts, the restaurant is a well-known eatery among locals and tourists alike—thanks to its coverage on Andrew Zimmern’s notorious show, Bizarre Foods.

Our group was seated almost immediately. The dishes passing by us looked mouthwatering, and I gave bonus points for its presentation: entrée-sized pasta served in a skillet? College students say, “Yes, please.”

The open kitchen concept allows customers to see the extent of the restaurant’s staff, which is limited to one cook, one waiter, and one busboy. No complaints there, though I secretly hoped that such efficiency would measure up to the quality of dishes.

The menu is written on a black chalkboard hung on a wall. Given the size of the restaurant, the options are actually quite impressive. Appetizers include calamari meatballs, Sicilian-style mussels, and clams casino (stuffed clams), and entrees range from shrimp white linguine to tinta de calamari alfredo (black squid ink pasta with alfredo sauce). There are also several non-pasta entrees including pan-seared tuna and monkfish marsala.

It took our group a while to choose what was for dinner. Going along with the waiter’s recommendation, we settled on two regular portions of clams white linguine and aglio olio tinta de calamari. We knew we were going to order some more, but we decided to first see how we would handle the skillets.

While we waited for our entrees, the waiter served us a plate of complimentary bread and butter. I wished the bread was warmer, and to be honest it was nothing special—even after I tried flooding them with olive oil.

We did not order any appetizer, but the calamari plate looked amazing: think fried calamari, calamari meatballs, calamari salad, and fries.

Our orders arrived within ten minutes. Both the linguine and the tinta de calamari smelled exquisite. And most importantly, their taste did not disappoint.

With a strong garlic flavor and a hint of olive oil, the linguine tasted especially flavorful. The shuddered clams were well cooked and similarly tasty, as they absorbed the sauce to their entirety. The sauce was so good that we found ourselves dipping our bread into it after finishing the pasta.

As for the tinta de calamari, I must say that I did not enjoy it as much as the linguine. The texture of the pasta was a bit too chewy for me, and I am not a big fan of thick pasta. The minced squid, however, was delicious and perfectly seasoned.

As predicted, we decided to order another skillet of linguine, this time with scallops. I was too full by the time this order came, but I did manage to take a bite or two of the scallops, and I’m glad I did. They were succulent.

Overall, our time at The Daily Catch was time well spent. Was it worth the journey? Certainly. Though a bit overpriced by college student standards, the food was excellent. I just wished they had better bread, and I hope they will someday expand. I mean, six tables is definitely not enough when the weekend line stretches down the block…

Ambiance: B+

Service: A-

Food (taste): A

Food (presentation): A-

Price: $25/person

Overall: A-

323 Hanover Street
Boston, MA 02133
Neighborhoods: Boston, North End
(617) 523-8567

http://www.dailycatch.com/northend.html

-Andari Gusman

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