Braving the lunch crowd near North Station
On the Cheap by Rob McKeown
Finding a half-decent downtown lunch spot is about as hard as finding a
bikini on the E! channel. But finding somewhere with atmosphere -- well, that's
a bit tougher. Enter Osteria Rustico, a bona fide restaurant by night (read:
Italian wine list, $15 entrées, tabletop candles) and a madhouse -- a
high-value madhouse -- by day.
With two dozen seats maximum, the battle for a table in these intensely
orange-toned digs can be vicious, which makes snaring a window seat that much
more satisfying. The unlucky, however, can still take solace in the dandy
people-watching from every corner of the room.
Osteria's helpings of Italian-American classics are as heavy as they are
heaping. Gnocchi ($8.50) are hearty and numerous, swimming in a brightly
flavored tomato sauce and sealed off with mozzarella. Penne Boscaiola ($8.50),
in a sauce so artery-cloggingly creamy you'd think it came from the '80s, is
touched up with prosciutto and studded with wild mushrooms. Caesar salad
($4.50), though not the best in its class, is crunchy, fresh, and
well-seasoned, while caprese ($4.50) is an admirable presentation of semi-beefy
tomatoes and agreeably salty mozzarella. Oddly, Osteria fails what should be
the yardstick of all Italian-American eateries: the Chicken Parm Sub Test.
Their version, the Pollo ($5.50), is dry, skimpy, and worst of all, almost
cheeseless. Even a window seat can't make up for that.
Osteria Rustico, located at 85 Canal Street, Boston, is open for lunch
Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and for dinner Thursday
through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Call (617) 742-8770 for
information and free delivery.
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