authentic italian food boston ma marlboro pasta calzones pizza fusilli lobster ravioli
authentic italian food boston ma marlboro pasta calzones pizza fusilli lobster ravioli
Pasta machine - The North End sets up shop at Linguine's

Linguine's Italian Eatery • 350 Boston Post Road West • Marlborough MA • 508-481-9747
Major credit cards | Beer, wine | Handicap accessible

I used to feel sorry for my Italian food-loving friends in Northborough; out there in the 'burbs, they missed the Shrewsbury Street experience. But no more. They now have Linguine's Italian Eatery with its homemade pasta, fresh sauces, and reasonable prices — the best of Shrewsbury Street right on Route 20 in Marlborough.

On a recent midweek night at 6:30 two of us snagged one of the few free tables — there are 10 of them and five booths in the small restaurant. Half an hour later, the place was full with a group waiting near the door. A number of the customers are there to take out pizza or pasta, though many like us were there to dine, to enjoy the Italian opera playing in the background, to sip glasses of wine, and to watch the cooks at work in the open kitchen. (Table seating is available only after 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; all day on Saturday and Sunday.)

We also watched in admiration as one young waitress — with assistance from a bus boy who cleared and set tables — deftly covered the entire room. Her smile never faded as she handled dozens of requests; she was friendly and accommodating throughout the evening. Within a few minutes after we'd ordered, she brought us a basket of homemade bread and glasses of Sutter Home merlot and chardonnay ($2.75).

Linguine's has an extensive list of pasta dishes. Its namesake pasta comes with tomato sauce ($5.50), garlic and oil ($5.50), sausage ($7.50), meatballs ($7.95), carbonara ($7.95), puttanesca ($7.95), and primavera ($7.95).

Want more pasta choices? There are ziti with 11 different toppings, tortellini, ravioli, and gnocchi. Children's portions of ravioli and ziti with tomato sauce or meatball are available too.

There are several variations of chicken and veal, from marsala ($7.95; $10.95 for veal) to cacciatore over ziti ($9.95; $11.95 for veal).

Lots of shellfish on the menu too, from mussels over linguine ($7.95) to fruitti di mare with shrimp, clams, calamari, and mussels ($11.95) and also scrod in a basil-tomato sauce ($10.95).

There are cold and hot Italian sandwiches, including fresh mozzarella, basil, and proscuitto ($4.95) and steak with cheese, mushrooms, onions, and peppers ($5.25). Homemade calzones range from cheese ($4.50) to spinach and ricotta ($5.40). A long list of pizzas includes a basic cheese ($7.50) and a roman — sliced tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, cheese, and pizza sauce ($9.50). Pizza is also available by the slice.

We began with a shared caprese salad, a mixture of fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese drizzled with virgin olive oil ($4.50).

"If only we were here in the summer when the tomatoes are at their peak, this salad would be perfect," my friend sighed. Even with mid-November tomatoes, it was very good. Other appetizers include antipasto and garden salads.

I had chosen an entree from the evening's specials, eggplant Riccio ($8.95); and my friend selected homemade fusilli with shrimp and scallops in a white wine and garlic sauce ($10.95).

The eggplant consisted of two hefty slices rolled around a filling of exceptionally creamy provolone cheese, proscuitto, and fresh spinach, topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese. Alongside, I received a bowl of linguine with tomato sauce. The eggplant was fork tender, but its crisp edges showed it was recently sautéed, not waiting in a warming tray. The cheese inside melted as I cut into the eggplant, revealing the bright green of fresh-cooked spinach, and the contrasting pink proscuitto. The sauce was outstanding, light and fresh; I can see why several patrons carried home quarts of sauce (available for $4.95). The same delicious sauce topped the linguini.

The fusilli, a heaping plate of twisty pasta strands, was topped by tender and sweet sea scallops and firm shrimp. The sauce was delicate, allowing the freshness of the seafood and pasta top billing. This was a very satisfying dish. So satisfying that we passed on desserts: tiramisu and cannoli. Our bill came to $37.82, including tax but not tip.

In an interview later, owner John Waswill revealed the origins of Linguine's sauce.

"I grew up in the North End of Boston," he said. "My mother and grandmother are Italian." The sauce, he said, reflects his Italian heritage.

Waswill hired cooks from Boston; the energetic and competent waitress is his daughter. This family-run restaurant, which has been open for seven months, attracts families, too; there were several who dined while we were there. We plan to join them again—not that we'd abandon Shrewsbury Street— but next time we're in the 'burbs, we'll drop in on the Linguine's family.

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