Where to Find the Best Lasagna Around Boston Right Now
These are the greatest slices of Bolognese- or béchamel-sauced Italian comfort food—and no, they’re not all in the North End.
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The perfect plate of lasagna is basically an act of alchemy, somehow transforming cheese, sauce, and pasta into a plate of pure bliss. Need more proof? Check out these nine spots around Boston—not just in the North End, though definitely head there, too—that make magic in the kitchen.
Bottega di Capri
Don’t let Bottega di Capri’s cozy square-footage fool you. Here you’ll find larger-than-life flavors that whisk diners from Brookline Village to the Italian island of Capri. Naturally, the regional cuisine leans towards seafood, and Bottega certainly boasts a superlative shrimp scampi with robust garlic, as well as a wonderfully spicy lobster ravioli. But take note: Their stellar lasagna alla Bolognese meal also makes waves when it appears as a menu special on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Credit its relative rarity on the menu to all the love, time, and care that clearly go into whipping up the creamy béchamel sauce that anchors one big and beefy baked lasagna.
41 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-738-5333, bottegadicapribrookline.com.
Even in a pandemic, chef Will Gilson has been hustling lately, to say the absolute least. Besides running his Cambridge restaurant Puritan & Co., he just opened an Italian-inspired eatery, Geppetto—and what’s more, it’s his third concept to debut in the last six months at the Cambridge Crossing development. (It joins Gilson’s grab-and-go-oriented Café Beatrice and rooftop restaurant the Lexington.) Geppetto hasn’t been open for long, but it already has a big winner with its overflowing “Kitchen Sink Meat Lasagna,” so named because it makes use of whatever ingredients Gilson happens to be working with. Lately, the lasagna has layered super-fresh pasta with loads of pork—think mortadella, capicola, and pepperoni—as well as short prime rib, plus a porcini béchamel sauce, mozzarella, and gobs of ricotta that all round out the savory meats.
100 N First St., Cambridge, 617-945-1349, thelexingtoncx.com/geppetto.
Chef Giuseppe Castellano nods to his native Napoli with great gusto at Gran Gusto, where the delightful dishes highlight fine, imported mozzarella, olive oils, and cheeses. The place is particularly well-known for its crispy Neapolitan-style pizzas, from the black truffle and Prosciutto di Parma-topped white pizza to the classic Margherita. For his lasagna, though, Castellano turns to the Emilia-Romagna region for a mostly traditional take—a luscious layering of pasta, beef, and parmesan in a red tomato sauce— that provides a welcome escape even when our cobweb-gathering passports can’t.
90 Sherman St., Cambridge, 617-441-0400, grangustocambridge.com.
La Famiglia Giorgio’s
This North End nook of an eatery is known for its dinner-table sized portions of house-made angel hair, stuffed ravioli, and heaps of breaded chicken and eggplant doused with mozzarella and marinara. But it’s their outsized lasagna challenge that transforms dinner into something of an endurance sport. Your mission: Try to house about six pounds of their lasagna of the day—ricotta, Bolognese, spinach, or whatever else is on offer. Your prize is a t-shirt that says, “I ate the plate!”, plus some big bragging rights. Really, though, the reward is forkfuls of gold-medal worthy lasagna. Still feeling competitive? Other dining dares at Giorgio’s include a three-pound chicken parm challenge and a three-pound pasta and meatball challenge. Here’s hoping you can sweep all the categories.
112 Salem St., Boston, 617-367-6711, lafamigliagiorgios.com.
Brookline hideaway La Morra hones in on the cuisine of Northern Italy—after all, chef-owner Josh Ziskin and his co-owner and spouse, beverage director Jen Ziskin, spent time living in the Piedmont region. The consistently spectacular, always-surprising results include a stellar rabbit and polenta lasagna; the meat’s earthy flavor sings in an accompanying chorus of soft grains, smoked mozzarella, zesty thyme gremolata, and rich sauce (béchamel between the layers, plus a final topping of parmesan sauce). Though their heart belongs to the north, the Ziskins do hop around to other areas of Italy with themed family-style meals offered throughout the week. So on Wednesdays, skip to Sicily via La Morra’s stuffed sole, or traipse to Tuscany on Fridays wth the porchetta and broccoli rabe that zings with garlic and chili.
48 Boylston St., Brookline, 617-739-0007, lamorra.com.
The only drawback to dining at Mida is having to decide between the different plates of perfect house-made pasta that are dished out by chef-owner Douglass Williams in his bright and modern South End spot. Here’s a tip to soothe all that existential angst: You can’t go wrong with the short rib lasagna and its soft, springy pasta ribbons. They’re the perfect canvas for bearing painterly layers of smoked beef short rib and local veggies smothered in parmesan, ricotta, and garnet-shaded, scrumptious marinara. Still feeling indecisive? Head to Mida (or order takeout) on Mangia Mondays, when you can feast on five different heaping helpings of rotating pasta specialties, plus salad and bread.
782 Tremont St., Boston, 617-936-3490, midaboston.com.
According to a rep for the restaurant, May 1 is the currently-slated reopening date for Tiffani Faison’s modern Italian spot, Orfano, which has been closed during most of the pandemic. Mark your calendar just so you know when you’ll again be able to savor the standout lasagna, a feast of fontina, ricotta, and house-made gravy that gets a slight kick from house-made pepperoni sausage. Pasta aficionados know that the best slices of lasagna come from the corners of the pan, where the edges are crisped to perfection. Rest assured that here, every side of the square-cut lasagna showcases that slightly crunchy texture. It’s all best enjoyed alongside an ice-cold martini prepared table-side from a martini cart that swishes through the dining room—somewhere we can’t wait to soon return.
1391 Boylston St, Boston, 617-916-9600, orfanoboston.com.
Panza begs the question, “Have you ever felt too penned-in by your lasagna?” This traditional North End restaurant eschews traditional, brick-like slices for something a little less square: its “Free Form Lasagna,” a plate of more loosely composed layers. Consider the dish an interpretive dance of flavors, for that matter, thanks to crinkly black pepper pasta sheets joining chicken, mushrooms, spinach, and a ricotta sauce studded by ruby-like plum tomatoes. Panza’s other slight re-imaginings of Italian favorites include a wild mushroom and goat cheese spring roll, as well as a Caprese salad with fried tomato. If by-the-books bites are more your thing, though, you can always turn to the silky and classic carbonara with pancetta.
326 Hanover St., Boston, 617-557-9248, panzarestaurant.com.
The Village Kitchen
With the first bite of veggie lasagna at Village Kitchen, even avowed carnivores will realize that they won’t miss meat. Instead, zucchini, eggplant, and ricotta get the starring role at this intimate, family-style gem’s lighter spin on a red-sauce lasagna—one that leaves your gut with a lighter feeling than most, even once you’ve licked your plate. In terms of pure portion size, though, Village Kitchen’s helpings are still large enough to split between two meals, and besides, you can always take one of the handcrafted pizzas on display in a glass case; sandwiches served on fresh-baked bread; or (if you know to ask) an off-menu antipasti salad with fresh mozzarella, breaded cauliflower, and more to savor another day.
359 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-491-3133, facebook.com/thevillagekitchen359.