Quick How-To Guide to North End Restaurant Week

Photo courtesy of Tresca Restaurant

From Monday, April 4 to Friday, April 9, diners will find economically priced, three-course lunch and dinner menus throughout Little Italy’s First Annual North End Restaurant Week.

The neighborhood restaurant week menus are priced at $20.10 for lunch and $33.10 for dinner. The event is sponsored by the North End Chamber of Commerce as a way to stimulate the local economy, according to a note from North End Chamber Chairman, Frank De Pasquale, on the Chamber’s website.

“We have now hit the winter months which is the toughest time of year in the restaurant business,” the restaurateur and owner of Bricco restaurant, said in the statement. “Our idea is to extend our Winter Restaurant Week menus through the following two weeks after [the City of Boston’s].”

A report from the National Restaurant Association found that every dollar spent in Massachusetts’s restaurants generates an additional $1.02 in sales for the state’s economy.

Although the exact total of revenue from the first week of the new event, March 28- April 2, has not been calculated, many restaurant owners say the number of reservations at their respective restaurants is already increasing from the number of reservations made last week.

Where to Eat

In all, 20 restaurants are participating in the event. All offer great Italian cuisine, but some simply cannot be missed.

Upscale but uncomplicated is the best way to describe the food and atmosphere at Nico, Nick Varano’s restaurant and bar. The bright red walls with striking black accents add flair to the quaint dining room.

“It’s always been about simplicity meets quality here,” Varano said. “Everyone that visits here this week will hopefully get that.” Varano added that the year was off to a slow start for his business, and said he hoped the new week would become an annual tradition.

Fifty-four percent of restaurant owners nationwide reported a decline in the volume of customers in January, which decreased from a 22-month high according to the National Restaurant Association’s index of restaurant activity.

“There has been a dip in customer traffic the last two months, but restaurant owners are saying they are optimistic for better sales in the months ahead,” association spokeswoman Annika Stensson said.

Perhaps the veal marsala, which will typically cost you about $23, has something to do with an increase in business at Nico. Executive Chef Salvatore Firicano said the popular dish will be served this week with your choice of an appetizer (roasted peppers, arugula salad or meatballs anyone?) and dessert for the restaurant week dinner price of $33.10.

If casual dining is more your style, head to Caffé Graffiti for a more relaxed atmosphere, where dishes are always offered at wallet-friendly prices, without skimping on quality or quantity.

Graffiti’s Chef Luigi said most orders from last week were off of the prix-fixe menu, where dishes such as the Gamberi alla Griglia (grilled shrimp) were paired with a second entrée and a dessert for less than $40, a 136 percent savings from ordering the same dish outside of restaurant week.

And definitely don’t forget about dessert.

Appropriately named “The Finale,” the dessert options for restaurant week at the North Street Grille are truly some of the best in town. Choose from chocolate covered cheesecake, watermelon with mint or the crème de la crème: white chocolate crème brulée.

Torched to perfection, this commendable crème brulée instantly melts in your mouth and is served drizzled in white chocolate. The petite serving size is just enough to comfortably fill you up post-dinner.

Ready to try more? Here is a list of the other 17 participating restaurants.

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