Paolo’s Trattoria, located at 251 Main Street, offers up Italian-American inspired cuisine with a twist of comfort food thrown in for good measure. We recently caught up with owner Damien Donovan, born and bred Charlestown native, to get the inside scoop on this little bistro.
The original Paolo’s opened in the late ‘90s and had a loyal following when the current owners took it over in 2006. The existing menu had some smash hits on it that had been recognized by The Phantom Gourmet and Zagat, so Donovan and his family knew they had a good thing and were savvy about it – they kept the dishes that worked, tweaked what didn’t, and created a space all their own.
The interior was completely redone to reflect, as Donovan puts it, “the fabric of the neighborhood” – exposed brick, framed prints, and little bistro tables gave Paolo’s an intimate, but approachable feel that Charlestown’s young professionals and townies were looking for.
The menu and price point, with salads and starters ranging from $7-14 and entrees from $15-24, represent a place that fits the best of both worlds: Donovan sees Paolo’s as a neighborhood spot where you can nip in for a quick pizza and a glass of wine just as easily as you can impress Mom and Dad (or your hot date) with some higher-scale entrees and a nice bottle of vino.
Some menu standouts are the Bolognese ($17), a slow-simmered meat sauce with tagliatelle pasta (which, for pasta neophytes means long, flat noodles, similar to fettuccine); and the sirloin steak tips with mashed potatoes and salad ($17). The authentic wood-fired pizza oven gives their pies a crispy, thin crust patrons enjoy – one of the best sellers is the Gina ($11-13) topped with sweet Italian sausage, caramelized onions, plum tomato sauce, and (of course) ooey, gooey cheese.
“Paolo’s gives young professionals in the neighborhood a great excuse not to have to walk all the way over the bridge to Hanover Street for some good Italian food,” says Donovan.
In addition to creating new specials every week, Paolo’s is also the place to be on Tuesday nights when they offer lasagna for just $9 – that’s the kind of stick-to-your-ribs food we’re going to need when winter comes rolling in. Plus, if you really can’t bear the thought of trudging out in the rain or snow, Paolo’s delivers! Call them up Sunday-Thursday from 5-9:30p and Friday-Saturday from 5-10p – their menu is online to make it easier for you.
Whether you’re a Charlestown local or visiting from another neighborhood or even farther away, Paolo’s is a charming, family-run Italian restaurant with affordable prices and a cozy ambience.