The Ultimate: Antipasto

Our city’s wealth of Italian restaurants could only mean one amazing antipasto plate after another, right? Wrong. Unless you consider jarred pickled veggies, deli-style cheeses, and canned olives a tasty prelude to your meal, far too many of the area’s offerings disappoint. But Pomodoro delivers a beautiful array of vegetables, cured meats, and cheeses. There are golden roasted potatoes, thin slices of prosciutto, and wedges of Parmesan over a bed of arugula. There are crostini smeared with herbed goat cheese; marinated olives; lightly fried artichokes; and cherry peppers stuffed with slightly spicy tuna. And to top it off, there are a trio of salads: lemony calamari, green beans with tomatoes, and a Tuscan white bean mix. Restrain yourself from polishing off this hefty starter, or you won’t have room left for dinner. Pomodoro, 319 Hanover St., Boston, 617-367-4348,


Taranta ***1/2
This Italian-Peruvian fusion spot presents a mix of roasted and marinated vegetables, house-made mozzarella, sopressata, and prosciutto. The bell peppers, artichokes, asparagus, olives, stuffed hot peppers, and mushrooms make for a nice spread, but a few of the components were on the bland side.  210 Hanover St., 617-720-0052,

Rendezvous in Central Square ***
A Middle Eastern take on antipasto, this plate includes a lovely roasted-eggplant purée, cool cucumber and yogurt salad, celery root and carrot remoulade, roasted potatoes, carrots and beets, and muhummara (a roasted pepper purée). The purées pair well with the sourdough they’re served with, but it’s a bit too far from the original to satisfy an antipasto craving. 502 Massachusetts Ave., 617-576-1900,

[sidebar]Trattoria di Monica **
Sadly, this all-vegetable version is more exciting to read about than to eat.  The eggplant arrived mushy, the cold cucumbers seemed out of place, and the roasted tomatoes were dry; the whole plate lacked vibrancy and zing. 67 Prince St., 617-720-5472,