And now for something (just a little) different in the north end – the boston globe

Mercifully, Il Molo also departs from its North End competitors in another way: It’s cozy instead of claustrophobic. Easy homemade spaghetti sauce using fresh tomatoes It’s far enough removed from the chaos of Hanover Street that it’s possible to sit down at a table without a diner from another party encroaching on your lap.

Tables are still close enough together that some ogling of each other’s food and joining of each other’s conversations is inevitable. Homemade pasta sauce with fresh tomatoes But I’ve crammed my regal physique into enough North End dining rooms to make sitting in a comfortable booth feel like a luxury; imagine how relieved the poor tourist who would’ve spent dinner pinned in my armpit at Giacomo’s would be if he knew.

And the bar is more than just pretty.

Easy homemade pasta sauce with canned tomatoes The wine list isn’t long, but includes a healthy section of by-the-glass offerings. Recipe for homemade pasta sauce from scratch And the small roster of house cocktails is studded with real gems. Easy homemade tomato pasta sauce A rum-based take on a classic Sazerac, the South American Saz, mellows and slightly sweetens the original; a tall Rose Kennedy Cooler, blending gin, sherry and Earl Grey syrup, could credibly span three seasons without growing cloying. White sauce recipe for pasta in hindi There are exceptions like Ward 8, another Frattaroli family operation, but sophisticated cocktail programs are few and far between in this neighborhood.

Shellfish towers would seem to be a good option for a crowd eating just steps from the water. Homemade sauce for pasta But presentations are standard or even a little sparse, the expanse of ice making otherwise elegant chilled lobster, prawns, and oysters appear wan, double-spaced like a freshman essay to artificially add size.

And a curious little collection of side dishes is all over the place: Broccoli rabe is brutally overcooked, the kind of green mush my mother used to produce by throwing something in the steamer and then forgetting about it indefinitely. Homemade spaghetti sauce recipe easy But pickled eggplant, pressed and cut into ribbons as long as shoelaces, is about as invigorating as beige, room-temperature food can get, crunchy and bright with vinegar and salt.

Fortunately, Il Molo is not afflicted with the same disease so many kitchens seem to suffer from — that degenerative condition that causes appetizers and small plates to be dramatically more exciting than main courses.

The most fully imagined entrees are both interesting and satisfying: Cod loin with clams and chorizo arranges a beautifully sauteed hunk of fresh fish atop a pile of chard so swollen with broth that it’s nearly braised, and lines up a row of clams stuffed with flavorful Spanish sausage alongside. Easy homemade pasta sauce olive oil Disassembling the various edifices is a bit of a challenge, and if you don’t devour the sausage-studded clams wading in savory broth long before the fish is finished, you’re stronger than I am.

A hay-roasted salmon fillet’s firm crust gives way to tender, moist fish, brightened by a blob of fresh romesco sauce. Homemade cream sauce for pasta The effects of the hay that was allegedly tossed on top and lit on fire during the cooking process are difficult to discern, but it sure didn’t hurt.

Pastas hit the mark. Homemade cheese sauce for pasta One recent daily special featured broad house-made pappardelle studded with fresh mushrooms and lobster in a buttery sauce. Making a white sauce for pasta Lobster fra diavolo is just as it should be: gently spicy, sauced with a light hand, and piled with chunks of tender lobster.

Il Molo’s misses aren’t offensive, they’re just underwhelming. Homemade italian pasta sauce recipe from scratch Getting all the fish and shrimp and lobster and clams in a steaming, delicate seafood stew to cook just right is a challenge the kitchen is up to, but the result is less than the sum of its parts.

Making fish the centerpiece is a good and noble aim, but it would be nice to see what Maffeo could do with these ingredients if he took the governor off. Tomato pasta sauce with passata When he was cooking at Restaurant L more than a decade ago, he was something of a mad scientist, obsessed with innovative tools and techniques. Tomato pasta sauce names There’s plenty to like here, but he’s largely playing it safe.

Even desserts, a place where many a restaurant feels free to weird out, are spare and simple. Homemade tomato pasta sauce jamie oliver A narrow, rectangular chocolate tart dotted with fresh berries and whipped cream is the standout, the intense chocolate balancing the fruit.

Il Molo’s sleek, modern dining room cries out for a little experimentation on the plate to match — dishes that draw on Mediterranean ideas to reimagine this bounty of fresh local seafood in interesting new ways. Quick and easy homemade pasta sauce In a corner of the city rich with restaurants, there’s still precious little of that kind of invention.