Boston >Food & Dining > Al Dente Restaurant
109 Salem St, Boston, MA | Directions 0211342.364261 -71.055531
Monday To Thursday From 11:30 AM To 10:00 PM Friday To Saturday From 11:30 AM To 10:45 PM Sunday From 11:30 AM To 10:00 PM
Neighborhoods: North End, Central
STAY AWAY!! The food is horrendous. Some dishes were incredibly bland (fettuccini alfredo) while others were incredibly salty (stuffed chicken dish, the name escapes me). This place is the biggest tourist trap. Servers were nice enough but they smelled overwhelmingly of smoke. Gross!
VERY GOOD! WHO NEEDS UPSCALE??? – We really enjoyed Al Dente. It was very crowded as it was the night before the marathon, but the place had a great vibe. Mike at the door was very congenial and Lisa was a wonderful waitress. We packed in the place and were served delicious itialian food! Al Dente is very casual and is not fussy!
I'm not Italian, but sometimes I wish I was – Al dente is the type of Italian restaurant where the jovial, large Italian waitresses treat you like their own children. Our conversation with Donna, a passing hostess, about the Osso Busco soon led into an open and honest assessment of her oldest son moving out and her desire to let loose and return to downtown Boston. The familiarity was as comforting as the pork tenderloins were savory.
In the pantheon of food choice, we decided to take one familiar and one less traveled culinary path. One can weigh the quality of an Italian restaurant by the weight of its eggplant parmigiana and one can be surprised and satisfied by the simple additions. In this case, it was what lies beneath. For under the softly layered comfort food was a hidden trove of gnocchi. Those round gummy creations, which are often a meal to themselves, lay nestled, dare I say cradled in a puddle of sweet red sauce.
Taking a most radical route, our second entree was a distinctly colorful and segregated dish of pork tenderloin, spinach and mashed potatoes. Each flavor, while proudly distinct in its own right, was a willing companion to its neighbor. While the rival factions vied for dominance of our palate, it was the merger of tastes which ultimately won the dish. The sweet prune sauce tenderloins were in distinct contrast to the bitter garlic spinach, and the buttery potatoes played mediator between the two.
While not the highlight, the wine flowed easily and did not distract from the more memorable aspects of the meal. We chose a moderately priced Sauvignon Blanc from the limited but sufficient wine menu. The overeager wine pouring from our motherly server was slightly intrusive.
Al dente is pleasant for both the out of town guest, large gatherings and the casual diner. The warm atmosphere will be a welcome retreat from any cold New England evening--always enjoy with friends and olive oil dipped bread.
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Not worth waiting – Made a reservation, which they apparently had no intention of honoring. Kept telling us we'd be seated in aother 5, 10 or 15 minutes, while we waited, and waited, and waited. Polite efforts to get a realistic estimate about setaing were rebuffed with surprising rudeness.
There are too many good Italian restaurants in the North End to waste time on this one.
Amazing!! – I love Al Dente. Seriously. I recommend this place to everyone, including the hot-shot execs at my office (a bank). It's one of the gems of the North End, I've been going there since I was a freshman in college (have since graduated). I've tried many other places but I just keep coming back. The service is always great, the food is top-notch and generously portioned (I love the home-made raviolis--the best you will find anywhere, and believe me I have looked! Also try the pumpkin ravs if they have them on special, or the risotto, but anything you get will be fabulous. Love the alfredo!) I also love the atmosphere here--it's a small place, well decorated and with proper lighting. The only bummer is that the menu never changes...good thing it's all great food!!!
Good for: evening out with friends, romantic dinner date
Not good for: large parties (although 18 of my friends went together one time and it was fine, but we didn't all get to sit together because the place is just too small to accommodate that kind of size), small children
Great food for the price! Friendly staff and generous portions. – I ate there last night with my boyfriend. The staff were so nice and the portions were generous; so was the pouring of the wine! Lovely vodka sauce...not heavy like some. Bread was fresh. House wine was pretty good for a house wine and the wine list offered some great other options for less than $30 a bottle. It's not a fancy place, nor a big place: just good food in a friendly atmosphere. I am enjoying the leftovers today. My boyfriend ordered chicken marsala which was really good...on angel hair pasta. The sauce was lovely...again not too heavy like some can be. The pasta was cooked perfectly: al dente! The caesar salad was fantastic: they offered the anchovies, which I love, and they came generously spread across the top of the salad. Delicious. Easy for my boyfriend to avoid and great for me!
Try this place for a easy-going, not too fancy night out.
Excellent Food at a Great Value – My husband and I have eaten here twice and enjoyed it both times. We will be going back and we recommend this italian eatery to everyone. We have been to other places such as Mother Anna's, familial G... I cannot spell it nor pronounce it, and another place that only takes cash or American Express. The first visit we both ordered the traditional chicken parmiagana. We enjoyed it and took the leftovers home.
The sauce is wonderful and flavorful. The pasta is ok.
North End Secret – This place is great. Try the Chicken Venensia...the gorgonzola cream sauce is out of this world. This place is on Salem, so it does not fight the same crowds that some of its Hanover counterparts do. Plus this place, unlike most north end restaurants, is open all day for lunch. The servers are all extremely friendly. Try this place; its a nice north end alternative
Not the best in the North End – The food was OK. The calamari was chewy as well as the squid rings in the seafood dish. The eggplant appetizer was absolutely amazing on the up side! The worst part of the night had to do with what happened before we were even seated. The hostess told us to go to the Pushcart Pizza place a few doors down to wait. They would call us when the table was ready. Well, they did call about 10 minutes after our reserved time, which is not bad for a Saturday in the North End. What she neglected to tell us was that we HAD to order drinks there. We sat down and got some waters, figuring that it was 5 minutes til our reserved table should be ready. We were basically told that if we did not buy drinks we would be asked to leave. Even when we ordered drinks, we continued to be eyed by who I presumed to be the owner because the waitress told us that she was just relaying a message from the owner. Apparently they have no affiliation with Al Dente yet that is what we were led to believe. I don't think I'll return to Al Dente or Pushcart Pizza.
Great bruschetta – I know it's not hard to screw up bruschetta, but Al Dente definitely has the best I've ever had anywhere. Their minestrone soup is also filled with veggies and a tasty broth. The pasta is great; the vodka sauce is excellect. The waitstaff are always so nice. I've been there lots of times and never had a bad experience! It's a great place to take a date.
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