The Boston Phoenix
April 15 - 22, 1999

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A lunch bargain in the North End

by Liz Zack

Snuggled among fish markets and imported-candy stores on Salem Street in the North End, Rabia's Restaurant isn't cheap at dinnertime, but it does have one of the best lunch deals in this neighborhood. Half a dozen entrées are available for $5, including eggplant marinara, pesto penne, and clam marinara sauce over linguine, with whole clams peeking through the sauce. Another great choice is the Italian-American delicacy of linguini and meatballs; Rabia's version strikes a balance between a slightly bitter sauce and slightly sweet meatballs.

The lunches are generously portioned. The size of the pasta plates ensures some left over for lunch tomorrow, and the tricolored tortellini soup ($2.95) is served in a bowl so large it wouldn't fit in a single cabinet in my kitchen. For a few dollars more, another winner is the warm spinach salad with portobello mushrooms and huge slabs of roasted red peppers marinated in a perfectly balanced vinaigrette ($8.95).

Under a vine-covered ceiling, servers clad all in black wait on you in the refreshingly overattentive manner usually reserved for big-paying dinnertime customers. When it's time to leave, you'll realize the hardest part of this meal -- besides finishing it all -- is getting up and going back to work.

Rabia's, located at 73 Salem Street, in the North End, is open every day for lunch from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., and for dinner until 11 p.m. Call (617) 227-6637.

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