Blogger Dinner: North End's Panza

Before you even consider setting foot into Panza, there are a couple of things you should know.  To start, don't bring a large group.  It's too small of a space and they won't let you sit down until everyone's there - no exceptions.  Secondly, don't go there and hope to follow your meal with coffee and dessert - that won't happen (they just don't do that).  Lastly, don't expect to split the bill this way and that and have everyone in your party pay with plastic - that won't fly here either.  These are the rules of dining at Panza and there's no wiggle room for change.  That's just the way it is.

That being said, once you sit down at the kitchen-table style dining room, you'll forget about these seemingly annoying little rules and after one glance at the menu, you'll know that you're in store for some killer Italian food, at very agreeable prices.  For example, starting out with a decent glass of wine will set you back six bucks and generous portions of pastas and entrees are around $16-18, which is incredibly reasonable compared to usually inflated North End prices.

Bread and olive oil for dipping
A glass of red to compliment the meal
I had ventured to Panza tonight for what is a ritual monthly Blogger dinner meet up (check out last month's).  After perusing the menu several times, and having a rather heated internal argument about what to get, I decided to go with the "Free Form Lasagna" and I'm oh so happy I did.  Ribbons of peppery pasta swirled their way around giant chunks of chicken breast, mushroom slices, fresh green spinach and bits of ricotta cheese in a thick plum tomato sauce.  There was a lot going on in that pasta bowl and it was all soooo good.  My favorite part of it all was the pasta itself with all of its rich, spicy peppery goodness.  It supplied just a nice little hint of heat to the dish, which was a welcome touch.  I must say, I was very content with my dinner and I wasn't the only one.  Although there were six of us at the table, there was not one complaint to be heard and clean plates were sparkled all around (except for my friend Lara, but I can't blame her, the short ribs that she ordered were not so short!).

Peppery pasta 
The thing I admire most about Panza was the fact that they seemed to operate in a true "Mom and Pop" sense.  For a restaurant that seats maybe 50 people, there were two people on hand to take orders (and they were also doubling as host and hostess), one busser, two cooks in a small and very open kitchen and that was about it.  With such a small staff, it was amazing the quality and quantity of food being churned out.

And a tomato sauce of spinach, chicken, mushrooms and ricotta
In sum, Panza's atmosphere was inviting and homey, a little on the loud side (but in the way you expect good Italian restaurants to be), reasonably priced and most definitely worth the visit.  I would go back in a second and I probably will head back there soon.  There's so much else on the menu I want to sink my teeth into!

Panza Ristorante on Urbanspoon


Jen said...

Looks like a bunch of fun. I rarely make it down to the North End since I'm not the biggest fan of Italian food. But your lasagna looks pretty tasty!

Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic said...

I've never been to Panza but your review is making me want to plan a dinner there soon! Thanks for the tips.

Miss Yunks said...

I went to Panza a few times when I lived in the North End and ordered the free-form lasagna too! It's so delicious! I also love their tomato and mozzarella salad - the tomatoes are fried to perfection.

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