Standing up for the Neighborhood

North End restaurant owners say Olive Garden food truck not worthy of the neighborhood

North End restaurant owners’ disdain for Olive Garden is as unlimited as the chain’s breadsticks.

Olive Garden recently announced they are bringing their new breadstick sandwiches to Boston’s historic Italian neighborhood via food truck this weekend. And local restaurateurs are not lining up.

“There is nothing authentically Italian about Olive Garden,” George Mendoza, one of the owners of Monica’s in the North End, told “It’s an insult to everyone in the North End selling Italian food for more than 100 years.”

Olive Garden’s food truck will give free samples of their new sandwiches, which use their famous (or infamous) breadsticks as buns, from Thursday to Sunday at the North End Park and nearby Faneuil Hall.

Mendoza says don’t go.

“It’s like if you took a P.F. Chang’s and put it in Chinatown and passed around spring rolls,” he said.

The Italian-American chain has drawn criticism for its menu, which included Spanish tapas, burgers, and fries. A recent study found that the restaurant did not salt its pasta water, which Slate described as “a culinary crime against humanity.”

The study also found the chain’s infamous breadsticks had degraded in quality. The airy, refined flour breadsticks were compared to hot dog buns, which is perhaps fitting given their new use.

Damien DiPaola, who owns Carmelina’s and Vito’s in the North End, thinks Boston has the best Little Italy in the country and that Olive Garden is trying to exploit that.

“It’s just a publicity stunt to say they came to the North End,” he told “All these neighborhood people do it the right way, with integrity. We’ve got to support our own.”

DiPaola wished good luck to anyone who planned on trying the breadstick sandwiches and warned them of fake garlic and heartburn.

“Olive Garden has nothing Italian on their menu,” DiPaola said. “Italians don’t put three different types of pasta together, or pile protein on top of pasta with s--- sauce.”

Both DiPaolo and Mendoza agreed that the city should not have granted Olive Garden a food truck permit.

Mendoza said it was “really annoying” to have “businesses shoved in front of our doors” and said the “big business” decision contributes to a larger theme of erosion of “social culture in the American neighborhood.”

Olive Garden did not respond to request for comment.

Benedict Cumberbatch Dines at Carmelina's

Which British Star Had His First Cannoli in Boston this Weekend?

Johnny Depp isn't the only member of the Black Mass cast enjoying the food in Boston

Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch headed to Boston’s Italian neighborhood, the North End, on Saturday, where he ate his first-ever cannoli. 

Cumberbatch, along with his Black Mass costars including Joel Edgerton andBreaking Bad star Jesse Plemmons, headed to the popular Modern Pastry for coffee and cannolis after dinner on Saturday evening. For his first foray into the Modern’s specialty, Cumberbatch chose a plain ricotta cannoli. 

Earlier on Saturday, Benedict and friends dined family-style at Carmelina's on Hanover Street, where they feasted on meatballs, exploding clams, asparagus baked with quail egg and shaved parmesan and black garlic beef.

"He's a great guy," said Carmelina's owner/chef Damien DiPaola, who has a small role in the film. "He's a gentleman. He was so happy to be in the North End. He loved the atmosphere." 

DiPaola said that the movie stars weren't stingy with the staff at Carmelina's, either. 

"They were excellent tippers," said DiPaola. "The staff was very happy." 

Cumberbatch has been keeping a pretty low profile in his off-hours while filming Black Mass, in which he stars as Billy Bulger, the brother of infamous Boston gangster Whitey Bulger. Last week, he was spotted hanging at the bar at Sonsie Cafe and chatting with the film's crew between takes outside the Harvard Club. 

Carmelina's - Phantom Gourmet

Carmelina's - Phantom Gourmet

BOSTON (CBS) — There are few foods that will warm you up like a big bowl pasta, and whether it’s smothered with tomato sauce, tossed in gorgonzola cream, or loaded with chicken, sausage, peppers and alfredo, nobody does Italian comfort food like Carmelina’s.

Carmelina's - Fat Cat Eats

One of the best things about Boston is that all my friends are here. Whether it be my friends from home, or my friends from high school, being able to grab coffee or lunch makes keeping in touch a lot easier. My best friend Amanda was back in town so we decided to check out the newest restaurant in the North End. Carmelina’s was featured on an episode of Phantom Gourmet and after drooling over my computer, I waited for the perfect person to share this experience with. The baked meat balls starred in the episode, so we ordered them to have as starters. They were soft, light, incredibly tasty but what really made it shine was the tomato sauce. As you can see, Amanda and I went a little overboard with the tomato sauce with this meal, but I’m glad we did. Carmelina’s does it just the way that my mom does which made me feel nostalgic.

We also ordered the Rollati di Pasta; fresh pasta stuffed with prosciutto, spinach and fontina cheese baked in a rich pink sauce. And since we don’t get to see each other too often, we went all out and ordered the stuffed pork chop too; a 16 oz center cut rib chop stuffed with prosciutto, spinach, smoked mozzarella finished with roasted garlic and tomato sauce. The juicy and tender pork chop held all the textures of the stuffing together beautifully. Delizioso.

So after we licked every plate clean, we were ready for dessert. (Talking can really build up your appetite) To our disappointment, Carmelina’s didn’t serve dessert so we went across the street to Caffe Vittoria where we chatted over hot chocolate for another two hours.

Carmelina's - Eater

Ristorante Damiano Is Now Carmelina's North End

Dishing reports that Ristorante Damiano is now Carmelina's North End, and that the change marks a transition from small plates to those quaint, regular sized ones. Chef Damien DiPaola includes a lengthy, personal note about the change in concept on Facebook, explaining that the name Carmelina's comes from a restaurant he experimentally opened in Amherst as a college student. "The menu combines my mothers best dishes, my fathers best dishes, and my best dishes, with strong Mediterranean and Sicilian influence," he says. For instance, spaghetti with cuttlefish and squid ink. The switcheroo is officially complete as of today.