North End restaurant owners aren't giving up their fight against Mayor Michelle Wu over the city’s outdoor dining restrictions.

This time, they’re using her recent trip to Italy to highlight the issue.

“While the mayor has been visiting cities in Italy, dining outdoors and enjoying the beautiful weather, our coworkers here continue to lose income due to the policies being put forth by the city,” said Carla Agrippino Gomes, owner of Terramia and Antico Forno.

Wu recently visited the Italian city of Sulmona, which a press release from her office said is “a town with strong ties through immigration to Boston’s North End.” Restaurateurs were quick to make another comparison: outdoor dining is prevalent there.

However, Wu said in a statement to GBH News that she “didn’t see a single example of a street in Italy with the outdoor dining set up that the litigants are pushing.”

Wu traveled abroad with Gov. Maura Healey for a climate conference at the Vatican.

During a Monday afternoon event on Hanover Street, about 25 North End restaurant owners and employees gathered to compare Sulmona to Boston’s North End.

“You have the greatest Italian American community in the United States of America. So you have to travel overseas you have to say how much you love all things Italian ... yet in your own backyard, you cannot sit down with us,” said Damien DiPaola, owner of Carmelina’s and a North End resident.

DiPaola added, “Show some love for your Italian neighbors in your own backyard, Mayor Wu — stop going overseas on our dime.”

Jorge Mendoza, owner of Vinoteca di Monica, said business is down 30% so far this year due to the lack of outdoor patios. “We're cutting down hours, we're sending people home.”

Wu's statement said she has paid close attention to the outdoor dining options in Italy, and how those areas differ from Boston's North End.

“Rather than having densely packed tables in place of parking spots along the entire street, the majority of outdoor patios are on wide sidewalks, similar to other Boston neighborhoods, or on a flat piazza that isn’t meant for vehicular traffic,” she said.

When asked by GBH News what compromises restaurateurs would be willing to make with the mayor, Mendoza said time is running out for compromise, and Agrippino Gomes added, “We’ve already compromised so much.”

This fight has been going on since the pandemic, with a federal lawsuit still pending. After two years of outdoor dining spilling into the streets of the North End, the city in 2022 implemented a $7,500 outdoor dining fee on most of the neighborhood’s restaurants along with a shortened season in 2022.

Outdoor dining was then banned in the North End in 2023, and will be banned again this summer while other Boston neighborhoods will be allowed to set up on the street.

Tables will be allowed on sidewalks in the North End, but not on the street due to parking scarcity, high foot traffic, narrow roads and high restaurant density, according to the city.

Applications for outdoor dining opened on May 1, and the outdoor dining season in Boston will end on October 31.

Updated: May 21, 2024
This article was updated to include a statement from Mayor Michelle Wu.