The 8 Best Places to Grab a Bites in the North End

The original Pizzeria Regina in the North End is one of the best places to buy a pre-game slice. Avenue Turner

Few things scream “Boston” more than dining in the North End before cheering on the home team at TD Garden. Fortunately, after ten long days without basketball, Game 1 of the NBA Finals finally begins on Thursday when the Celtics take on the Mavericks at home.

If you’re one of the lucky fans with tickets to the best-of-seven series, chances are you’ll want to grab a bite to eat before the action.

But if fighting your way through the hustle and bustle of Hanover Street in search of a decent piece of meat doesn’t seem like the ideal way to start the evening, you’re not alone. Here’s a look at some of the best places in the North End to grab a quick bite before the game.

Monica’s Mercato

Come hungry and leave happy. This place has a line out the door on weekends for a reason. Monica’s meter-long subs are the perfect pre-game primer and will keep you full for all four quarters. The unassuming storefront, which first opened its doors in 1997, has gained a cult following among tourists and locals alike. Maybe it’s the fluffy buns, baked in the basement oven every morning, or the layers of imported meat and cheese that are hand-cut for each order — either way, these subs are worth the $20 price tag.

Do you have some extra time before you hit the road? Take your sub to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and enjoy the sights and sounds of one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods.

Pro tip: To avoid long lines, order Monica’s online and pick them up at the second counter.

130 Salem Street, Boston

Ducali Pizzeria & Bar

Located just a stone’s throw from the Garden, this Roman-style pizzeria is the perfect place to grab a sandwich and take a seat before the match. Ducali’s thin-crust pies pair perfectly with their extensive brew selection, which includes some of New England’s best beers.

The family-friendly atmosphere and crowd-pleasing menu (yes, they have a grilled Italian cheese for even the pickiest youngster) means you no longer have to traverse a busy Hanover Street looking for a quick meal. Head to a booth at Ducali, pull up a few chairs and watch part of the pregame show on one of their many televisions.

289 Causeway Street, Boston

Section 8

Double a playoff game with date night? Head to Ward 8, just a few blocks from the Garden, to grab a few seats at the rustic-chic bar. Offering a departure from the nearby Italian restaurants, this neighborhood gastropub serves a variety of New American dishes.

An extra plus? Ward 8’s late-night menu (open until 1am on Sunday to Thursday and until 2am on Friday and Saturday) makes it the ideal place to enjoy some festive food and drink after the match.

90 NWashington St.

Restaurant Lucia

If you’re in the mood for a good old-fashioned Italian dinner, look no further than this North End mainstay. Ristorante Lucia, which the Frattaroli family has owned and operated for almost half a century, is the perfect place to enjoy a plate of homemade pasta or signature lasagna (they even offer gluten-free pasta!).

This cozy, rustic eatery recently opened its outdoor restaurant, allowing customers to enjoy their hearty meal in the courtyard of the adjacent St. Stephen’s Catholic Church.

And if that doesn’t sound like the makings of a quintessential Boston experience, rumor has it that Tom Brady visited the restaurant during his rookie days with the Patriots.

415 Hanover Street, Boston

Kala Thai cuisine

Kala Thai Cookery hasn’t gotten the hype it deserves. Located across from the Boston Public Market, this cozy spot serves some of the best Thai food in the North End. The affordable menu options appear quickly and popularly, and you rarely have to wait (even on game nights).

Chef Manita Bunnagitkarn’s second restaurant serves flavorful favorites like Pad See Ew and Beef Larb Tacos. And better yet, almost everything on the menu costs less than $15.

Fans taking the MBTA downtown for the game can hop off the Green or Orange Line at Haymarket for a quick trip to this casual neighborhood restaurant.

151 Hanover St.

Pizzeria Regina

Would it really be a North End restaurant review if Regina’s wasn’t included? The answer is simply no. This no-nonsense pizzeria has been making some of Boston’s best pies since the original Thatcher Street location opened in 1926.

Thanks to its 100-year-old brick oven, Regina’s pizzas draw long lines almost every day of the week. Make sure you get there early and don’t miss the Giabotta pizza, with pepperoni, sausage, salami, mushrooms, onions and peppers atop a deliciously doughy crust – thank us later.

11 1/2 Thacher St.

Ernesto’s pizza

When the long line at Regina is unavoidable sigh, do not panic. Three blocks away on Salem Street is Ernesto’s Pizza. Blink and you might miss this little spot. But don’t let the quaint exterior fool you: they serve some huge slices at the counter, with a fraction of the wait time.

Whether you’re short on time or looking for an affordable bite, Ernesto’s is the place to be with more than 20 ready-to-eat options. Additionally, for those wanting to dine in, they offer a limited selection of beer and wine.

Salemstraat 69.

The daily catch

Contrary to popular belief, not all Hanover Street restaurants sling dishes with red sauce over white tablecloths. In fact, one of the North End’s best restaurants, The Daily Catch, is a cash-only restaurant that masterfully combines two of the neighborhood’s favorite things: pasta and seafood.

Don’t be fooled by the ultra-casual dining experience at the original location (yes, your wine comes in a plastic cup), The Daily Catch serves some of the best food in Boston. Take the example of NBA legend Kenny Smith, who raved about the restaurant after a visit to the 2023 Eastern Conference finals.

323 Hanover St.