Walking through Boston’s North End, I’m always struck by how much it feels like not Boston. Not Italy exactly, but some weird middle ground between Italy and Boston. I’m also struck by all of the cafes (cappuccino, anyone?), pastry shops, and little Italian restaurants – all of which I have always felt pretty sure I couldn’t eat at, despite having not tried or really done any research. Of course, much like Italy itself, the North End actually has tons of gluten free options, pretty much all of which are of the complex carb variety (my favorite). Dan (@guywithamap) and I decided to go to the North End for dinner on our 5 year anniversary, and chose Benevento’s. They have tons of reviews on Find Me Gluten Free, and even though they don’t have a separate gluten free menu or anything about gluten free food on their website, we knew they had gluten free gnocchi, so that sealed the deal.
Beneventos’ has a small interior, but it’s very cozy and is in a great location. When we first sat down, the waitress brought out a basket of bread, which we of course denied. When she heard we were gluten free, she said that they could actually bring us gluten free bread if we wanted. Of course we wanted it, so we agreed. After we agreed to it, she told us there was actually a charge for it, which seemed a little weird, but we decided we still wanted it. The “bread” was really just pizza crust seasoned with garlic, but it was still tasty.
After finishing the bread, we ordered our entrees. I ordered the gluten free gnocchi (with a steep $3 surcharge) with pesto sauce and Dan ordered the carbonara with gluten free penne (which also had a surcharge, but it wasn’t as high as the gnocchi). Both of our entrees were delicious – the pesto was fabulous, and the gnocchi was truly outstanding. It tasted like clouds, and on more than one occasion I had the feeling that they must have given me the wrong gnocchi and that I would be sick soon (they didn’t, and I wasn’t 😊). Dan’s carbonara was also amazing, with perfectly crispy pancetta and gluten free penne that wasn’t overcooked (so rare, it seems!). We both ate as much as we could, but still had leftovers – which if you know us, you know is super rare. That gnocchi is filling!
Overall, I’d highly recommend Benevento’s. It’s fun to eat in the North End, it’s a nice date night idea, and the food is really delicious. I had no reaction to anything I ate and I was really impressed with the fact that they offered gnocchi. The only downside to the experience was the very high surcharges – I think they should offer either free bread, or no steep surcharge for the pasta. With pretty hefty surcharges for both the bread and the pasta, we were paying an extra $10 for a gluten free meal than we would have for a regular meal, which seems pretty steep and pretty unnecessary. Because of that, we probably won’t be frequent visitors, but we will certainly come back for another night of carb heaven sometime in the future!
Pro Tip: If you still have room after you’re done eating, head over to Modern Pastry for gluten free cannoli! Seriously, you do not want to miss these. They order the cannoli shells from an outside facility and fill them on the spot for you. They do not taste any different from a regular cannoli (from what I remember!), and it will complete your North End experience. I would recommend calling them ahead of time to make sure they have the shells, because they do sell out.