I've eaten at Mother Anna's a dozen times now, usually in connection with a visit to the nearby Haymarket with its fruit and vegetable vendors that make me feel like I've stepped back in time. The restaurant is at the outer edge of Boston's North End, a part of town dominated by Italian restaurants, grocery stores, and pastry shops. The food at Mother Anna's isn't fancy, but it's mighty good. The emphasis is on red sauce...and what red sauce! Mamma mia! It's the most gorgeous red/orange color and the flavor can't be beat. It's consistently good.
The decor is old-fashioned and is dominated by family photos; lighting is dim even on a sunny day; and the wait staff is attentive. You expect to hear people speaking in Italian...that kind of atmosphere. The wine list is terrific and music is, of course, Italian. For years, the restaurant sat beside the Big Dig which was under construction for a long time...this is complete now and a patio sits where a pit lingered for too long.
Food can't be beat. On my last visit I was with ten people. We were seated mid-afternoon without a reservation. Some of us had salads to start along with crusty Italian bread that is hearty and good. The Caesar salad is tasty and the house dressing drew no complaints. Many of us had Veal Parmesan with Eggplant, a house speciality...it's a lot of food and it's well-prepared. A few had tortellini with artechokes, spinach, and gorgonzola and some had veal or chicken Marsala...no complaints all around. We each paid $22 and that included a handsome tip. Try it; you'll like it.
A visit to the North End offers lots of choices in many price ranges. If you are looking for honest Italian food at modest prices, this is the place for you. I've spent three times as much at fancier places around the corner without the same satisfaction. I hope that this Boston institution is around for many more years.