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Where to Rina’s Pizzeria & Cafe in the North End.

What for Pizza, pasta, cyclopean sandwiches, and scene-scoping courtesy of restaurateur Nick Varano. The counter-service pizzeria is right next to his North End flagship, Strega.

The scene Hanover Street mayhem. Workmen trudge through the door and shout hello. A dad and his toddler negotiate over one more bite of pizza. A man in a garish plaid suit sneaks up behind another fellow, dressed down in shorts and a T-shirt, and hugs him from behind. Laughter all around. Someone’s cellphone keeps buzzing. An unflappable waitress tends the cash register — it’s counter-service only — and uncorks soda bottles with the agility of a personal trainer. Above a six-seat dining counter, flat-screen televisions play a muted black-and-white Frank Sinatra movie as the Bee Gees trill across the sound system. Poor Frank!

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What you’re eating Whatever tempts you from the sidewalk. Grilled vegetables, arancini, and Neapolitan pizzas are displayed in the window. Slices are $3; full pies top out at $11. They’re cooked in a 1,000-degree Italian brick oven, which is visible from the dining area and branded with the “Strega” logo. There are also calzones stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables ($10); missile-like panini dripping with Strega’s slightly sweet house tomato sauce ($8); and a smattering of pastas such as homemade gnocchi ($15) and baked penne in Bolognese ($13). For dessert, try a pizza topped with Nutella ($10). Meals come on paper or plastic plates, quaking under the weight of their portions.

Care for a drink? There are glass-bottled sodas, espresso, cappuccino, and plenty of red, sparkling, and white wines by the glass (most are $8 or $9) or bottle. There are a few beers, too, such as Peroni and Sam Adams.

Overheard Good-natured ribbing; naked desire. “You ate two pieces, and you didn’t even know it! C’mon, eat two more!” a dad begs his fussy child. A troop of camp counselors marches through the door. “Eggplants! Whee!” one whistles. “Everything here looks so good. But are you able to put chicken on a salad?” murmurs a woman in a sundress to the cashier. (The cashier indicates yes.) A cook’s phone keeps going off. “Your wife’s calling — a-gain!” another man behind the counter teases. Outside, a gent with a small dog on a leash pauses in front of the window to admire the pizza. “Delicious. Can’t eat it, but delicious,” he mutters.

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371 Hanover St., North End, Boston. 617-456-5700,

www.rinasnorthend.com


Kara Baskin can be reached at kcbaskin@gmail.com.