If you are happened to be in the USA and “Just Love Italy”, you can visit Little Italy in Boston, best known to locals as “North End” or Boston’s Little Italy.
Little Italy or North End is Boston’s oldest neighborhood located in the heart of Boston. You will find authentic Italian cuisine, cafes, bakeries, pizzerias, historical sites, cultural events and a large Italian population where the majority have been in the city for generations. The European-influenced architecture of the houses and the narrow streets, the colors of the Italian flag, and the smell of fresh pizza, freshly baked bread and Italian pastries will transport you to Italy.
Hanover Street is the main street of Little Italy, one of the oldest in Boston and home of many businesses, cafes, churches and Italian restaurants. Parallel to Hanover Street is Salem Street where you will also find similar Italian businesses but often less crowded.
Did you know?
– Little Italy is accessible by public transportation, using the local subway train system called “T” to Haymarket Station
These are the places that I visited and recommend :
1. Salumeria Italiana
We visited Salumeria Italiana, an authentic Deli Salumeria where we enjoyed the fabulous Italian subs prepared with fresh baked bread, mozzarella, prosciutto, tomato, basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. We also bought Pecorino Toscano Stagionato (Aged Pecorino Toscano) cheese and Calabrese style soppressata (spicy cold meat). The staff was very kind to cut them into snack pieces so we can enjoy them while walking through the streets of Little Italy.
The Salumeria Italiana has been opened for almost 50 years offering an assortment of cure meats, cheese, olive oils, vinegar, pastas, and other specialty products. It’s normally visited by local customers and visitors from other Boston’s neighborhoods and tourists from around the world. I really enjoyed seeing the vast selection of Italian products as same as the grocery stores in Italy.
If you live in the USA and found yourself missing the exquisites from Italy, you can order your goods online at Salumeria Italiana
Did you know?
– Salumeria is a food producer and retail store that produces salumi and other food products
– Salumi (singular salume) are cold cuts predominantly made from pork such as prosciutto, bresaola, and mortadella
– The English translation of Salumeria is Delicatessen
2. Polcari’s Coffee
As soon as you enter into this coffee shop, you will be transported back in years as you see the Dayton Vintage candy scale where a wide variety of coffee beans are weighted. You will find regular, decaffeinated, flavored, organic and other specialty coffees, as well a variety of teas, spices, Italian candies and more. We enjoyed an espresso as Italians do: one sip, no sugar, no milk, and we bought a can of Italian coffee to bring home.
Polcari’s Coffee is the oldest coffee shop in Boston’s North End. Created by Anthony Polcari in 1932, this family shop is 88 years old. Currently, Bobby Eustace is in charge of the shop. He worked with Ralph Polcari (Anthony Polcari’s son) for 26 years and he is committed to keep the history of the Polcari family’s coffee shop alive. For more information, visit Polcari’s Coffee
Did you know?
– In Italy, if you order a cafe, you are ordering an espresso
– Italians drink espresso very quickly while the crema (or cream) is still on top
– The crema is a creamy emulsion of the coffee’s oils on top of the coffee, which keeps the aroma of the coffee
– Don’t add milk to an espresso. If you add milk you’re making it an espresso machiatto, and shouldn’t be drinking it after 11:00 am.
3. Mike’s Pastry
The visit to Little Italy is not complete without a mandatory stop at Mike’s Pastry to try its famous Cannoli. You need to be ready when visiting this place because it can be a little overwhelming, not only because of the long line outside and inside the shop, but also because of the immense variety of pastries, which includes 19 flavors of cannoli for which this Bakery is famous.
Mike’s Pastry was founded in 1946 by Michael Mercogliano (the “Mike” behind the bakery’s name) where he created the famous cannoli that keeps loyal Bostonians and tourists coming from around the world to enjoy. There are 19 cannoli flavors including the classic plain ricotta and chocolate cream as well as nutella, peanut butter, limoncello, amaretto, espresso, hazelnut, strawberry, Oreo, Florentine, chocolate ricotta, chocolate mousse, chocolate covered, chocolate chip, mint chip, pecan caramel, yellow cream, and the new limited edition Cannoli Stout Beer created in partnership with Harpoon Brewery.
I personally tried the classic plain ricotta and my family tried the classic Italian tiramisu and the yellow cream puff. They were so good, we came back for more. For more information, visit Mike’s Pastry
Did you know?
– Cannoli originated in the island of Sicily, Italy. It’s the staple of the Sicilian Cuisine
– Cannoli comes from the Sicilian word Cannolu meaning “little tube”
– Tiramisu means “pull me up” because the cake was served to reinvigorate exhausted clients inside so-called “casino” (closed whorehouses). That’s why Italians believe tiramisu is a strong aphrodisiac.
Tip: Mike’s Pastry is cash only, so stop by an ATM beforehand
4. Caffè Dello Sport
We saw this coffee shop close to Milke’s Pastry, just on the corner of Hannover and Prince streets and decided to have an espresso there, after have eaten too much sweet. What a great choice! Like their website says: Where the locals and everyone comes for a “Little taste of Italy”.
We enjoyed their delicious Italian espresso while watching a soccer game and listening to the Italians, sitting next to our table, commenting in Italian about the game. This is definitely a gathering place for Italians.
This cozy cafe not only offers Italian coffee and pastries but also salads, pizza, panini and gelato. They named the menu items with the last names of the Italian national football (soccer) team. You will find the Buffon Salad, the Maldini Pizzetta, the Moltolivo Pizza and so on. For more information, check their website at Caffe Dello Sport
Do you know the Italian Coffee Terminology (and Misnomers)?\
– Caffè or Espresso: These terms are used interchangeably
– Doppio: ‘Double’, or two shots of espresso
– Americano or Lungo: A ‘long’ espresso that has twice as much water, creating a thinner brew
– Ristretto: A ‘reduced’ espresso that uses half the amount of water
– Macchiato: Espresso that is ‘marked’ with a splash of milk or milk foam. The bartender may ask if you want hot or cold milk
– Cappuccino: Espresso with equal parts steamed milk and topped with foamed milk. Usually ordered at breakfast andnever ordered after lunch
– Caffè Latte: A large cup of latte, or milk, marked with a shot of espresso
Tip: if you want to enjoy an espresso at home without having to spend too much money in an espresso machine, you can get a Stovetop Espresso Maker, which is what I use at home to make my morning coffee. It’s easy to use, make excellent strong espresso coffee and last for many years, I would say decades.
5. Bricco Panneteria
Bricco Panneteria is a Homemade Artisan Bread Shop over 100 years old offering a wonderful selection of delicious bread baked fresh daily. It’s a hidden gem, hard to find, unless you already know that is located in a basement space, down a narrow alley off Hanover Street on the opposite side of Mike’s Bakery.
Once you start walking down the alley, the smell of freshly baked bread will capture you. The crust, the flavors, it is all amazing. They have the classic Italian breads such as ciabatta and focaccia, as well as baguettes, sunflower bread, organic bread, some pastries and more. We were happy to find the bomboloni that my daughter loves, which are the absolutely mind-blowing Italian doughnuts filled typically with custard.
So if you happen to be in Boston, take time to stop by Bricco Panneteria and try their wonderful traditional Italian freshly baked bread. For more information visit Bricco Panetteria
Did you know?
– Panneteria means Bakery. In Italy is a place to sell bread with or without the oven attached.
Tip: Bricco Panneteria is cash only, so stop by an ATM beforehand.
6. Caffè Vittoria
Established in 1929, Caffé Vittoria is known as the first Italian cafe in Boston. I was impressed by the collection of old-fashioned espresso machines as part of the shop decoration as well as the antique cash register.
Caffè Victoria is more than a coffee shop. Its menu offers not only the typical Italian variety of coffee but also a good selection of caffe caldo, or hot coffee, with different flavors of syrup as well as hot chocolate, teas, and digestives. They also have Pasticceria Tradizionale, or traditional Italian pastries, cakes, Italian gelato (Italian-style ice cream) in different flavors, and sorbetto during the summer.
For those looking for a cold drink, they have signature drinks, specialty coffee drinks, Italian sodas, juices, alcoholic beverages like Grappa (Italian alcoholic beverage), Porto, Vino, Birre (beers), and many more.
Caffè Vittoria is worth the visit. The environment is very Italian, the decoration is authentic, the staff is very friendly, and the foods and drinks of top quality. For additional information visit Caffè Vittoria
Did you know?
– Gelato, as we know it, is credited to be created in Florence and the Sorbetto in Sicily
– The difference between Gelato and Sorbetto is that Sorbetto is dairy and egg free, while Gelato isn’t
– Grappa is a grape-based Italian alcoholic beverage containing 35 to 60 percent alcohol by volume
There are over 87 restaurants in Boston’s Little Italy from different regions of Italy (Abruzzi, Puglia, Sicily, Napoli, Piedmont and Lombardy) mixed with family traditions. You will find many options for dining from cafes, pastries and desserts, to Pizza and sandwiches to fine dining restaurants. Please check NorthEndBoston/Eat
From the many recommendations about the best Italian restaurants in Boston’s Little Italy, I have found the following common restaurants from the different recommendation lists that I checked:
- Restaurants $$$$ : Mamma Maria, Taranto, Prezza, and Lucca
- Restaurants $$-$$$: The Daily Catch, Carmelina’s, Giacomo, La Famiglia Giorgios, Neptune Oyster, Limoncello , Antico Forno, Nico, and Locale Bistro
- Restaurants $: Reginna Pizzeria and Ernesto Pizza
Tip: The majority of these restaurants required reservation in advance. You can made reservations in Tripadvisor @ Italian Restaurants in Boston’s North End
Feast and Celebrations
Little Italy in Boston is also well-known for their feasts and celebrations, especially during summer, bringing music, food and entertainment. Saint Anthony’s feast is the most popular of all the feasts which is celebrated the last Sunday in August. This event dated since 1919 when Italian immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avelino, Italy began the festival in honor to the patron Saint Antony of Padua. The feast consists in a 10 Hours procession of the image of Saint Anthony through the streets. National Geographic Magazine name it the “Feast of all Feasts“. The feasts also include marching bands, food and other vendors, and live music. For more information visit Feasts| northendboston.com
Boston’s Little Italy or North End offers a true variety of historical sites and history. Below the most visited:
- The heart of the Freedom Trail is in the North End neighborhood and walked by 3.2 million visitors each year. The historic walking path was organized in 1951 when 16 sites were “linked” to better tell Boston’s story of the American Revolution. Overseen by The Freedom Trail Foundation, the distinctive red line weaves through 2.5 miles of downtown Boston. Source: northendboston.com
- The Old North Church (officially Christ Church in the City of Boston) at 193 Salem Street was constructed in 1723 and features a steeple that is 191 feet high. Source northendboston.com . For more information visit Old North Church
- Paul Revere House. A c.1680 home owned by Paul Revere from 1770-1800. The wooden house is the oldest building in downtown Boston. The famous patriot was living here when he made midnight ride to Lexington on April 18, 1775, well-known through the famous poem of Paul Revere’s Ride by Longfellow. Next to the Paul Revere House is the Pierce Hichborn House, a 1711 brick building built in 1711. Source: northendboston.com . Visit Paul Revere House for more information
- Paul Revere Statue. A statue of Paul Revere by Cyrus Edwin Dallin is installed in Boston’s Paul Revere Mall near the Old North Church. The sculpture was modeled in 1885, cast in bronze in 1940, and dedicated on September 22 of that year. Source: Wikipedia. For more information visit Equestrian Statue of Paul Revere
- Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is located along Hull, Snow Hill and Charter Streets in the North End and is the second oldest burial ground in Boston, dating back to 1659. For more information visit Copp’s Hill Burying Ground.
There are many wonderful tours that can help you get to know the area better including historical tours, food tours or a mix of both and much more. Please see the list of feature sponsors from the NortthEndBoston.com website by visiting Tours | northendboston.com
Staying in Little Italy
Looking for a place to stay? Please visit Lodging | northendboston.com for a collection of recommendations
Definitely a “Must Visit”
I was really happy and thankful for having the opportunity to visit Little Italy in Boston and bring some of my memories from my trips to Italy while walking through the Hanover Street.
There are plenty of activities to do in one day, however, if you just want to spend the day in the “Italian Way”, perhaps you can start with an Italian subs from Salumeria Italiana, follow by a coffee from Caffe Vittoria. For lunch, try the famous pizza from Regina Pizzeria follow by a cannoli from Mike’s Pastry. Then stop by a mid-afternoon espresso from Caffe Dello Sport, and end the day with nice dinner in one of the many Italian restaurants in Little Italy in Boston.
Arrivederci and Buona Fortuna!
Just Love Italy
Follow us in IG @justloveitaly