Boston >Food & Dining > Rabia's
73 Salem St, Boston, MA | Directions 0211342.364377 -71.055643
Fri-Sat: 11am-11pm, Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm, Thu: 11am-10:30pm
Neighborhoods: North End, Central
Perfection - but don't go on Fri/Sat night! – This is not your typical italian food. If you are sick of chicken and pasta at the florentine - this is the place you are looking for. It is absolute perfection if you are looking for a romantic evening. But.. Friday or Saturday night is really busy and this place is really small. I have dined here over thirty times and it is a complete different restaurant on fri/sat. It turns into a madhouse and the beautiful and romantic decor turns a little sour with the line of people waiting at the door staring you down so they can get in. On any other night, any lady would melt to get the "window seat."
The fare is "american" italian food with a slight middle eastern twist. What I mean by this is generally italian food in america is a little different (more bland) than true italian food. Eating at Rabia's really takes me back to my visit in Naples ... This is my favorite numero uno restaurant in all of Boston - hands down.
Delicious savory food and great service – This place is really great and tries to accomodate you even if you're trying to sit at the most romantic table by the window. It has a great charm also and feels very authenticc. The grape vines decorating the ceiling in "the old room" remind me of a restaurant I have been to in Florence. The food is very diverse and also very delicious starting with the pesto tapanade served with the bread, a savory baked portabella mushroom in a port wine sauce smoked mozzarella and prosciutto, and after that the world is your oyster, you can really make it your own :) The waitstaff was very friendly and answered our questions and also suggested some of the best items on the menu. I wasn't suprised at the bill and it actually seemed like a great value for all of the food we had and I would definetly go back! P.S. Try their limoncelo and beautifull plated deserts with a berry sauce and whipped cream!! So happy because most of the restaurants in the North End don't even offer dessert trying to turn and burn.
Worst restaurant experience ever – My wife and friends came for dinner 10/24/09. This restaurant was recommended by the concierge at the Westin Boston Waterfront. All members of our party had some serious problem with the service at some point in the dinner ranging from multiple mistakes about our orders to dispute over whether or not the soda pop was flat (which is absurd since all 3 of us with pop insisted it was flat). My wife and I paid more than $70 for dinner and my wife did not even get her main course since she sent it back because it was not what she ordered. She was too disappointed to order anything else. We had to have a second meal at the hotel pub. A shame since it is a beautiful restaurant.
Not my top choice – I dined here on a Friday night. The place was packed but we were lucky to get a table upon entering. It's has a small cozy atmosphere. It is rather dark but that adds to the ambiance. The place is a bit overdecorated with fake grape vines hanging from the celing (some of which visibily cracking and peeling). Soon after we were seated at the tiny table we were handed gigantic menus. The next 20 minutes or so while we waited for someone, anyone to come over and at least take our drink order we were stuck with these huge folders. It was extremely awkward! Finally someone came over with bread and tapenade, which was the very good although the bread was a big hard and crusty. We were finally able to order drinks and a while later the waiter came back for the food order. We were very hungry so it was a bit irriating to have to wait almost 1/2 an hour before ordering any food. Then the food took an eternity to arrive as well. Luckily when the food did arrive, first our salads and then our meals, everything was delicous. The portions weren't too big, but I felt with a salad and entree I had the perfect amount, well maybe a little too much. Again it took quite a while to get the bill and even then the waiter passed us a few times before collecting the credit card for payment.
The food is great, but the service could use a little help. It was a busy Friday evening, perhaps a weeknight would be better as far as the service goes.
One of the North End's hidden gems delivers scrumptious Italian fare in a charming setting. – The Scene
Rabia's blink-and-you'll-miss-it storefront doesn't do much to differentiate the restaurant from the dozens of others that surround it. But upon stepping inside, diners are transported to a faraway world of delicious Italian cuisine and friendly service. The dining room can get a bit cramped when packed, but after digging into a luxurious seafood antipasto plate, most diners don't seem to mind. Even when the room is full, obtrusive noise levels fail to distract from a cozy, romantic environment.
While the kitchen prepares all the expected favorites with great aplomb, it stands out for its inventive preparations of fresh fish. After starting with a dish of cheese, mushroom and spinach ravioli that benefits from a tasty tomato and basil sauce, move on to a deliciously moist cut of halibut served over sauteed spinach and a delicate lobster risotto. Leave room for desserts like exceptionally creamy, homemade tiramisu or a scoop of refreshing peach sorbet.
I hope no one's special occasion gets ruined like mine! – I regrettably chose to celebrate my 34th birthday here tonight. I've never written a review before and immediately got on line on returning home to get this out to other people.
Background: I am a single female recently moved here from New York City where I am used to a very different dining experience than I think many Boston restaurants believe consumers deserve. I've learned to stop putting expectations on my dinners but tonight was just altogether UNACCEPTABLE in my book.
Tonight at Rabia's I was told on having my dinner plate taken away that the check would follow. A message was relayed from the manager that we would not be allowed dessert given the long wait for a table tonight. 1. There was no visible crowd formed anywhere nearby, 2. The couple seated next to my friend and I were served dessert minutes prior. When asked to speak w the manager he was "not in the building". The check came, on learning it was my birthday, the order to hustle us out the door was "retracted" after our waitress spoke with someone. We refused on principle. Their soggy hospitality was complimentary to their dry almost crispy angel hair pasta.
The food might have been decent to good (ordered lobster and king crabs that were not pre cut and super difficult to break apart). But how can the food be appreciated if you are knocking your elbows into the person next to you and being hawked by stressed out wait staff who want nothing more than to see you off. Other busy places can pull this off w style, offering perhaps an alternative dessert spot or certificate to return another time.
Go ahead and see for yourself. It was quite unbelieveable. I've eaten at MANY restaurants (I don't cook) and have never brought myself to put a review on line til now. Rabia's failed miserably in the service department. I hope no one else's special occasion gets ruined like mine.
Good traditional Italian fare – A friend of mine recommended I try Rabia's because of all the great experiences she has had there, so I gave it a shot. Italian food is my absolute favorite, so I am very cautious when venturing the North End, one wrong turn and it can be disastrous. My boyfriend and I were pleasantly surprised with our meal, I ordered a Chicken Saltimbocca and he had Chicken Marsala-both were great. Their traditional red sauce wasn't my favorite, but it wasn't bad either. Granted this restaurant isn't the same caliber as Prezza or Taranta, but it is a good, reasonably priced place.
Also, there is a reviewer on this page referencing sushi and sake. I am afraid they are confusing it with a different restaurant-no sushi or sake here.
cozy and won't empty your bank account – I live in the North End and this is one of my favorite restaurants. Atmosphere is dark with candle and twinkling lights; very cozy. Ask for Kirk as your server - he's the best. I've never tried the sushi and sake, and yes I do find it odd that they serve it here, but every guest I've brought here loved their food and experience. Decent wine selection; have a limoncello after dinner drink - yummy. Reading through some of the reviews, you have to keep in mind -- EVERY restaurant and server has an off night, although I've never experienced it here.
Insulting – This place is horrible considering the neighborhood. The Westin reccomended this place for good home cooked Italian food in the North End of Boston. Service is terrible right off. I should have noticed that there were more waiters than patrons, however the waiters and servers we're not paying attention to customers. The decor is more Middle Eastern, as are the people working there, and the music as well. Strange that a Itlalian restaurant would be serving Sushi and Sake.......Yes! The few that were in the establishment were sending their sushi back. We noticed many people walking by and not stopping (bad sign) and the place was very empty we should have left. I asked our server about the specials and there was no enthusiasm what so ever about any of the menu items. Food was tasteless and seemed like the sauce came from a jar, I'm positive that the "risotto" was Rica-A-Roni out of a box. The chicken parm was burnt, and pasta (not fresh) was still hard. We won't be back.
Impeccable – If you enjoy incredibly fresh pasta, bread with an olive tapanade to die for, and friendly service, you're going to be moving Rabia's to the top of your North End Restaurants List.
Get anything with the Moroccan olives in it. They finish in the mouth like chocolate - such a unique, delicious flavor. There are plenty of vegetarian options here too and the chefs will make you most anything you want, any way you want it. For my anniversary dinner I had the spinach ravioli with sun-dried tomatoes, the olives mentioned above, in an unbelievably yummy cream sauce - beyond Alfredo - beyond flavorful. I also asked them to add artichoke hearts, which they did with no problem, and they didn't skimp. This is one of the few North End restaurants that serves dessert and coffee and you don't want to miss either (if you still have room!)
I absolutely love this place. It's tiny like most other North End eateries but I have never had to wait. If you want to go on a Friday or Saturday, go around 6PM - don't wait until 9. That's just good advice anytime.
For friendly, accommodating service and fresh, high quality cuisine (very vegetarian-friendly!), Rabia's is highly recommended!
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