Best New Italian in Boston Area: Giulia in Cambridge, MA

Hub Grub

A weekly profile on a favorite New England dish.

[Photographs: Elizabeth Bomze]

I remember thinking that Cantabrigians had gotten a great Christmas present when Giulia opened last December. The stylish yet low-key Porter Square space came with the promise of Michael Pagliarini, former executive chef at Back Bay's higher-falutin Italian dining room Via Matta, his Umbrian roots, and his considerable pasta-making skills.

That kind of profile breeds high expectations, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that I went into my first meal there with cautious optimism. It's not that I doubted there'd be a few standout dishes, but there are plenty of restaurants—particularly Italian ones—that sound like they'll impress but fall short of truly memorable.

This isn't one of them. I can say that honestly because I haven't stopped thinking about the resilient spring of the bucatini rigate and the smoky char of the grilled radicchio. Just about everyone else I know who's been there (including critics at the Boston Globe and Improper Bostonian) will back me up. In fact, there are very few restaurants I can think of that received such unanimously enthusiastic praise, and that right out of the starting gates. When I go back, it'll be hard not to order the same dishes I had last weekend. Check out all the dishes in the slideshow »

Giulia

1682 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138 (map) 617-441-2800; giuliarestaurant.com