Panza’s unassuming entry way can easily be overlooked on Hanover Street, especially when it’s surrounded by the neon lights of Cantina Italiana and the usual long lines that pour out of Giacomo’s. I choose Panza for its substantial menu, attractive prices, and the fact that I never been there before!
Bread: A bread basket, with enough slices to go around at least twice for the 4 of us, was accompanied by a giant bowl of parmesan cheese! Luckily there was already EVOO on the table to mix it with. Bread was soft with a crunchy crust.
Menu: Appetizers, Salads, Pasta, Entrees, Sides. It may seem like a small menu but with 14 pastas and 9 entrees to choose from – on top of the tempting daily specials – deciding on a main course was not easy. More than anything I wanted the Butternut Squash Tortelloni, but I needed to branch out! Since I had pasta the night before I decided to compromise with the Grilled Maple Mustard Salmon with Butternut Squash Risotto 🙂 We started with the Fried Calamari for the table.
Food/Presentation: The calamari was drizzled with cherry pepper aioli which had a nice bite to it. Nothing too out of the ordinary here – a classic fried calamari! My butternut squash risotto was topped with a generous piece of salmon. I’m a huge mustard fan and was appreciative of the flavorful glaze. The pieces of actual butternut squash were a great addition to the creamy side.
Bathroom: One stall / one room. The outside of the door is covered in newspaper clippings. I was impressed that they had a modern bowl sink in such a casual establishment.
Wait Staff: Our waiter was really pleasant, made me smile, and the service of our app and entrées were in a timely fashion. It was a bit strange when clearing our plates he mentioned: “We don’t have coffee or dessert, so I’ll bring your check right over.” That’s a first! Granted we are in the North End and surrounded by dozens of pastry shops and cafés, but still, you’d think they’d want to boost revenue with a post-dinner drink…
Overall: A small, casual, quiet, and cozy spot. Perfect for an intimate date or a night out with a group of friends. Prices were reasonable, with pastas topping out at $18 (not including the lobster tails for $24) and entrées hitting a maximum price of $21. If I can get a delicious meal in a popular Boston neighborhood for under $20 then I’m beyond delighted!
The Perfect Bite: Butternut Squash anything will win my heart every time – that risotto was delicious!