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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Boston's North End
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Top 5 Reasons to Visit Boston's North End

Picture of Melanie Erspamer
Updated: 24 April 2017
You don’t have to go to Italy to be able to appreciate delicious Italian food and a friendly Italian atmosphere. This is thanks to Boston’s lovely North End, the quarter of the city long dominated by Italian immigrants. Here are five reasons to visit the North End, where you can enjoy an excellently prepared meal, fresh bread or an authentic espresso. Discover its charm for yourself.
Two loaves of bread
Only the freshest bread is served at Bricco’s. | © Jeffreyw/Flickr
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Bricco Panetteria

Want to try one of the best bakeries in Boston? Bricco Panetteria is hidden down a tight alleyway off of the central Hanover St. in the North End. The traveler that stumbles across it will be delighted by what she finds: as soon as you go down the steps that lead to the bakery, the delicious smell of wheat and freshly cooked bread swarms the nose. Ovens and facilities used to make bread occupy most of the bakery, making its hand-baked quality evident even before you have a chance to sample its superb taste. Bricco, the company that operates the bakery, also runs the nearby restaurant and small Italian grocer. Although these are both definitely worth a try, the bakery is one of the more unique places in the North End, offering some of the best bread you will ever try.

Bricco Panetteria, 241 Hanover St., Boston, USA, +1 617-248-9859

A salami sandwich.
A salami sandwich | © 46137/Flickr
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La Salumeria Italiana

This small grocery is an authentic replica of the markets found in Italy. It warrants a visit to the North End all on its own. One can either visit it at lunch for some Italian panini, all made with fresh ingredients that will delight your taste buds, or in the afternoon for some delicious foods. The store sells Italian brands of cookies, pastas and other foods hard to find in the US, such as Mulino Bianco and Paneangeli, as well as high-quality olive oils and vinegars. It also sells certain speciality foods, such as the delicious Siennese pasta, pici. A shopping trip here is a must, and will result in one of the best dinners you’ve had in a while.

La Salumeria Italiana, 151 Richmond St., Boston, USA, +1 617-523-8743

Pasta with cheese.
Delicious pasta alla vodka | © Joseph O’Connell/Flickr
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Ristorante Al Dente

Italian cuisine is one of the best and most-loved in the world. The North End is a treasure trove for authentic Italian restaurants full of delicious plates and foods. The trick is to find a place that has neither been too Americanized nor had its prices go up too much. A perfect example of this is Al Dente Ristorante. The dishes include the delicious pasta with vodka sauce ($15.95) and the typical veal and eggplant parmigiana ($19.95). Most of the prices are under $20, which is as good as you can find for good cuisine in the North End. Remember—you won’t be the only one hankering for some Italian food, and since the North End is one of the busiest places in Boston to catch dinner, reserve ahead of time!

Ristorante Al Dente, 100 Salem St., Boston, USA, +1 617-523-0990

A coffee machine.
The coffee machine at Caffe Vittoria, from which you can have real espresso | © snowpea&bokchoi/Flickr
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Vittoria Caffe

This adorable cafe right on Hanover St. is certainly worth a visit if you are ever in the mood for a true Italian coffee shop experience. To complete it, make sure to have an espresso and move your hands a lot when you order. When you enter, you will be greeted by the distinctly Italian smell of nicotine and caffeine mixed together. In the spring and summer, the windows in the front are opened, and the tables there offer a perfect opportunity to bask in the good weather with some excellent coffee and pastry—the rum cake and the cannoli are both particularly excellent. Around Christmas, the café is transformed by festive decorations and music, making it an ideal place to enjoy the jolly atmosphere. At any time of the year, though, Vittoria Caffe is worth a visit for a chat and coffee.

Vittoria Caffe, 296 Hanover St., Boston, USA, +1 617-227-7606

Mike's Pastry.
The iconic Mike’s Pastry | © Victorgrigas/Wikimedia Commons
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Mike’s Pastry

What will most Bostonians suggest when asked where in Boston you should go for some delicious pastries? Where are the largest queues and crowds in the North End? The answer to both of these questions is Mike’s Pastry. Although the shop offers a variety of pastries, from biscotti to pies, its real crowning jewel is its cannoli. The delicious way Mike’s Pastry makes these Sicilian desserts, ranging in flavor from plain ricotta cheese to espresso to oreo, explains its wild success and why many people would rather wait ten minutes inside that crowded shop without any hope of seating rather than try one of the other many pastry places in the North End. Indeed, Mike’s Pastry has been so successful a new location is opening in Harvard Square. Make your way to this famed patisserie: you would not be the only person in Boston headed to the North End simply for a chocolate chip cannolo!

Mike’s Pastry, 300 Hanover St., Boston, USA, +1 617-742-3050

Melanie Erspamer