What gives these restaurants staying power

What gives these restaurants staying power? Everything from an enlightened landlord to Larry’s lobster fritters

Twenty-five years is an eternity in the restaurant industry, which thrives only at the whim of fickle diners, a fluctuating economy, and rising rents. We’ve seen a spate of high-profile closures recently, from Cambridge’s Les Sablons and Tupelo to Boston’s Doretta Tavern and Townsman. As my colleague Shirley Leung recently pointed out in a column examining the potential dining bubble, the number of restaurants in Boston has declined by 2 percent since 2015 — a small but troubling omen in an otherwise bustling economy.

And yet: Several notable restaurants have celebrated silver anniversaries over the past year. How did they do it? I talked to their owners to find out.

Terramia, North End

Terramia owner Carla Gomes was a dental hygienist with small children when her brother, a restaurant owner, suggested that his chef wanted to open a place in the North End.

Gomes was intrigued and eager for a change. So she signed on to run the front of the house, even though she’d never operated a restaurant before. However, she did grow up in the North End with a mother who loved to host large family gatherings.

“You walk in there and you figure it out. I just figured it out,” she says. “When we left our attorney’s office, I related it to the movie ‘Field of Dreams.’ If we build it, they will come. I believed in the chef [Mario Nocera], the way his food was. His cuisine was unbelievable,” she recalls.

It was a contrast from the Italian-American restaurants popular in the neighborhood.

“We were considered to be doing something new. It was called ‘cutting-edge’ or ‘nouveau.’ This was the food he grew up on in Italy: pasta and peas. Peasant food. He’d do spicy pasta and chickpeas in a spicy garlic sauce and add shrimp. I credit him with changing the face of how people ate in the North End,” she says.

Nocera earned raves from then-Globe critic Alison Arnett in 1993. But even though the food was good, Gomes’s steady presence made it feel like home. She’s often spotted bussing tables, running food, and helping out at the bar. When her children were young, they came to the restaurant with her, she says. Today, she also owns neighborhood staple Antico Forno. Gomes says the guests keep coming because she’s there, and she cares.

“Don’t allow anyone else to carry out your vision,” she says. “Work! I was naive when I first opened. I thought, ‘This is exciting. I can do this. I can talk to people.’ I thought it’d be like a social hour. It’s hard work, a lot of work, but I think the most important thing is being in the restaurant and familiar to your guests,” she says. “New people who don’t know me don’t know that I’m the owner.”

I’m about to file this story when Gomes calls me back late on a Friday.

“I have to tell you a story about our lobster fritters,” she says. “We had a customer, Larry, from Natick. He’d come in several times per week and order the fritters. And the day he passed away, he called me. He said, ‘I wanted to let you know that I have cancer. I’m checking out today. I wanted to say goodbye to you,’ ” Gomes recalls. “He got very emotional on the phone. I said, ‘Larry, Terramia will always remember you. And I will always call them ‘Larry’s lobster fritters.’ ”

Beginning on Nov. 1, the restaurant will serve a $25 prix-fixe menu until the end of the year, spotlighting favorite dishes.

Larry’s fritters are there.

By Kara Baskin, Globe correspondent, October 29, 2018

The North End - Terramia

The North End – Boston’s Little Italy

First time visitors to Boston’s North End neighborhood will have no doubt that they’re in the right place when they arrive.  The architecture, the vibe, and of course all of the Italian restaurants are so distinctly different from anywhere else in Boston that it stands out as a special place.

The North End is a wonderful blend of history, great food, shopping and charm, where everyone (aside from the tourists) seems to know everyone.  Whenever I visit I feel like I’ve stepped into a charming little Italian town. Read more

Terramia Ristorante - Voted #1 Best Italian in Boston !

NBC Boston Broadcast

Apple Cider Risotto

The Hub Today’s Anna Rossi visits Terramia Ristorante in Boston’s North End to try a classic dish with a New England twist. For more information: Terramia Ristorante 98 Salem St, Boston, Ma 02113 (617) 523 – 3112 https://www.terramiaristorante.com/ (Published Thursday, Nov 30, 2017)
Terramia Ristorante - Voted #1 Best Italian in Boston !

ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center Buona Sera

ABCD’s North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC) fundraising celebration, Buona Sera: An Evening with Friends, raised nearly $50,000 to aid low-income and elderly residents of the North End and West End who turn to the center for assistance.

For the fifth year in a row, Ron Della Chiesa of WGBH and the Boston Symphony Orchestra performed as the event’s master of ceremonies. He played a few lines from “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday: Read more


Improper Bostonian: Dining Out to Conquer Diabetes CityFeast Event

On Sunday, Jan. 29, the 12th annual CityFeast: Dining Out to Conquer Diabetes, a unique dining event was held at various restaurants in Boston’s North End to benefit Joslin Diabetes Center’s High Hopes Fund. CityFeast guests enjoyed five-course prix fixe menus with wine pairings at a selection of restaurants, including Antico Forno, Aria, Trattoria, Bricco Ristorante, Lucca, Taranta, Terramia Ristorante and Tresca.


From Improper Bostonian


“Headed for Dinner at Terramia, North End” Painting

North End resident and artist Michael Dean shares his 24″x18″ oil painting of Terramia Ristorante on the corner of Salem and Bartlett Street. Headed for Dinner at Terramia, N.End is a commissioned piece Michael recently painted for former North End resident Matt Cook. The painting is a visual representation of Matt’s own charming North End story.

Matt spent over ten years living in the North End creating fond memories of the buildings and streets, as well as of his regular dinners and good times at Terramia Ristorante. Those memories include courting and, ultimately, proposing to his wife Jaimie, right there in the restaurant itself. Jaimie of course said, “Yes!” Read more


11 Ways to Save Money Eating Out

Dine early in the week

Restaurants often have deals on slow days, like Mondays through Wednesdays, to try and drive business. They’ll usually post those deals on their websites or social media pages, so head online before deciding when and where to eat. “It could save a patron tens (even hundreds!) of dollars to just take a quick browse,” says Sri Divel, operating partner of Salt Creek Grille. Check out more habits of people who are great at saving money.

Share the love

By sharing a few plates—big or small—with the rest of your table, everyone in your group can save money. “Make sure you have a variety of pastas, vegetables, and protein, and enjoy everything without overspending,” says Carla Gomes, owner of Antico Forno, Terramia Ristorante, and Cobblestone restaurants in Boston. Even though you’ll get to taste more dishes, you’ll actually end up spending less money. Find out the most polite way to split the bill. Read more