Monday, October 17, 2011

North End, Boston

Today, we're taking a detour from the usual stuff for quick tour of the North End of the Boston.  Even though it's Little Italy today, this old part of the city was a hotbed of activity during the Revolutionary War.  Above is Paul Revere's house.  Built in 1680, it's the oldest structure in downtown Boston.  It was from here he began his legendary ride to warn "The British are coming."  

Just a few blocks away, it was the Old North Church that displayed two lanterns to warn Charlestown of the British troops' movement.  "One of by land, two if by sea."  Even though these important Colonial sites are meshed into a modern commercial and residential part of the city, I wanted to focus on just a few of the vintage parts of Little Italy that make it so charming to me.

Even though many of the restaurants and shops are corporate business ventures, there are still many family-owned ristorantes, bakeries and markets that have been here for decades. 

And on a beautiful day, they open up their fronts so their patrons can enjoy the outdoors.

I met up with some friends for a weekend lunch.  All of our birthdays are within two weeks so we usually get together a few times to celebrate.  If they would only put away the iPhones.

After lunch, we hit the Salumeria Italiana which is one my favorite Italian markets.  I used to live less than a block away from here and I really miss this place.

A large selection of imported pastas...

...olives and salt-packed capers...


...the most incredible cured meats...

...and canned goods.  

One of my friends is a San Marzano tomato aficionado so we have to come here to buy them.  He says they have to say "D.O.P." on them to be real.

Just about a block down the street is Polcari's Coffee.

This is a place that time forgot.

They sell coffees, teas, spices, imported nuts, cheeses, pastas, condiments, canned goods, and other assorted imported food items.

Isn't like something out of a movie?

And before finishing our visit, we make the obligatory stop at Modern Pastry.

Cannoli to go.

If you ever visit Boston, I hope you'll take a few hours to check out this gem of a neighborhood.


  1. i hope one day to make it to boston. it looks so charming. the olives and tomatoes! thanks for sharing your little slice of heaven. iphones, sigh.

  2. if memory serves me right,
    directly across from villa francesca,
    and right next to the salumeria,
    is vinoteca di monica.
    it was my favoritest eatery in the north end,
    and if you've yet to go,
    i highly recommend it!
    they also have a trattoria and a salumeria.
    your blog makes me miss boston so much!
    (particularly modern bakery.)
    mangia, mangia!

  3. You're correct, Cool Birth! It was one of my favorites too when I lived there. It was closed unfortunately and it's been through a pretty big renovation so I hope it hasn't changed.

  4. I've never been but so want to go! Keep sharing.

  5. Except for planting planters I haven't been to the North End to shop in ages. This is the perfect time of year to go! We used to make a Sunday of it: Haymarket and the North End.

  6. Hi Steve,
    Happy Birthday!

    I wish there was a way to post smells and scents online. I bet those shops are an aromatic experience. And the cannoli...I think I put 5 lbs on just looking at them!


  7. Loved the tour! A while back I thought my daughter was moving to Boston but the "business deal" fell through so she is staying here on Long Island. But I want to visit one day anyway. Don't you just love the old neighborhoods where the shopowners know you by name and everything is walkable!

  8. thanks very much for the update!
    hope it hasn't changed too much as well.

  9. Boston is our all time favorite city...we have visited twice in the last two years...such a great city to explore. Thanks for sharing has made me yearn to go back because now I know exactly where I'm headed when I get there. Happy Monday and Happy Birthday!

  10. OH my, I adore Boston and have been on that street! I didn't realize all this goodness was waiting behind those doors. Too busy being a tourist!

    Thank you for the D.O.P. on all that Little Italy has to offer! Great pictures!

    From Virginia

  11. The cannoli just made my mouth water. While I prefer to live in the South, I do miss the Italian markets of the northeast. There is no good sausage to be had here.
    The stores all look so charming, I can imagine the fantastic smells.

  12. That store would do some damage to my wallet and my waistline.

    But money be damned, I'd love to go eating and shopping there.

    Exactly when is the birthday?

    xo jane

  13. Thanks for the tour! I loved it.

    I love all of your tours and trips that you share with us.

    Thanks again!
    Karla in CA

  14. I've travel to just about every major US city (and far too many of the not so major ones)...and for some odd reason have never made it to Boston...I'm over due and this makes me want to get there even more!

  15. Hey Steve, looks like a trip to Boston is in order. There's so much to love. How interesting that Paul Revere's house is the oldest standing building in that part of town. I guess no one in their right mind would dare to knock it down. One if by land, two if by sea. I failed that question in a recent American history quiz. Won't forget now.

    Happy Birthday!!

  16. I come from a large Italian family and I grew up in the Noth' End. Since moving from Mass. way to long ago, I went back this summer, I was do for a neighborhood fix, and I felt like I'd never left. I slipped into the old ways of talking and relating to family. What a hoot it was. Your right about the food though, absolutely mouth watering amazing! But nothing beats my family's home cooking.


  17. This brings back such memories! The last 2 times I was in Boston I didn't have time to visit the North End.

    Love the sign for Modern Pastry. Fabulously retro.


  18. I love the north end the last time we were there we saw a wedding in the park that was just wonderful.
    I will be spending time in Boston but it will be at Mass General so not so fun.

  19. I just about melted when I saw the Modern! I want a lobster claw, have you ever hand one? TO DIE FOR!!! Look like I need a trip to the "End" sometime soon!

    Thanks for a great trip!

  20. Hi Steve, You just gotta love the North End! I always go to Cafe Graffiti for pastries after dinner as a friend of mine is the owner~Luigi!! I even got to decorate two residences in the North End, one of which was in the old Prince Macaroni Building! HEY ANTHONY!!!!

  21. What a wonderful tour! Thank you so much for sharing. We're coming to Boston for spring break as three of my son's friends are going to college at BU this year. I am making note of all of these eateries and shops, the historical stuff I already know and loved seeing it all in this post. Thank you!

  22. You know my mother grew up on Hanover Street and her bedroom window looked right at Paul Revere's house. Years ago they owned the building with Cafe Del Sport. Loved your post - it was like walking down memory lane.

  23. Polcari's looks heavenly, I can almost smell the coffee! I wish I'd known about when we were in Boston on holiday a good few years ago.

  24. Yes, everyone we met, while in Boston, was carrying a Modern box. Our friends took us and the cannoli was delish. We actually walked to the little park behind North Church to enjoy both the sweet treats and conversation. Bonnie

  25. "Leave the gun, take the Cannoli." Being of Italian decent (my grandparents were born and raised in Italy)(my dad born and raised in Medford and Somerville) I love all the Italian specialty stores in the North End.

  26. I heard there are 60 restaurants in the North End. It is my mission to try them all!

  27. You will probably that all she got from my post, but is Charlestown the same place where they have all of the bank robberies? Oh...I sure could "mow" down on a few of those cannoli.....