This little Italian goods store, similar to a deli through American eyes, is the go-to place for real Italian goods. It lies just off the main street in the North End, Hanover Street, on an unpretentious road that would not suggest the high quality of the goods sold at the Salumeria, all at a reasonable price. The store is staffed mostly by friendly Italian-Americans, who, in addition to selling goods rarely seen out of the Old World— such as classic Italian nougat and Pici from Siena—also serve fresh and popular panini. These, or the various cold cuts from which the store derives its name and reputation, are a perfect treat when the weather is nice and what with the bay just around the corner…
Salumeria Italiana, 151 Richmond St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 523 8742
Just off Hanover Street in the North End is a tiny alley called Board Alley—hidden down it are two of the tastiest and most authentic spots in the area: Bricco Salumeria and Pasta Shopand Bricco Panetteria. The latter boasts bread of the highest quality, awarded among the Best of Boston 2014. The bread is handmade and sold fresh every day. To complement the bread and complete a delicious Italian meal is the Salumeria right next door. Here, high-caliber Italian products, many imported, are sold, such as fresh mozzarella and focaccia. In the little opening in front of these stores are a couple of tables where you can eat while still smelling the aroma of hot bread.
Board Alley, Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 248 9629
Improv Asylum is in a basement under Hanover Street. Whether tuning in for a nightly show or for a matinée, guests will receive a break from the bustle of the streets above by descending into the cool, dark atmosphere of the Improv Asylum Bar. The bar operates before shows and during intermissions—its lighting paired with its brick décor makes for a chic ambience. The shows are a mixture of improv and sketch comedy, with tickets priced in the range of $20-30. The Asylum’s high number of shows per week, 12, are often sold out, a fact which speaks to the their quality. The various shows are almost sure to make you laugh, but the audience must be ready that actors will sometimes drag members into their scenes!
Improv Asylum, 216 Hanover St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 263 NUTS
Jeans are king at In jean ius. This store prides itself on being able to fit jeans to any body type—just enter in the store and the sales assistants will flock over to offer you various pairs of jeans that they feel will suit you. The workers look after customers, who can relax and let their jeans-buying be directed by experts. The jeans come in various styles, brands and colors as well as sizes, and the store also sells cute tops and jewelry to pair with the jeans. The prices are high—almost always over $100 and even reaching $300—but the work gone into the jeans and finding the perfect pair ensures satisfaction for the customer and a long life for the jeans.
In-jean-ius, 441 Hanover St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 523 jean
The Old North Church in the North End is the oldest church still standing in Boston, founded in 1722, and one of Boston’s most-visited sites. It is Protestant, reflected in its austere white wooden furnishing and minimal decorations. St. Leonard’s, the first Roman Catholic Church in New England, lies at the heart of the North End and was built by Italian immigrants in 1873. While the immigrants started off from more humble backgrounds than many of their Protestant neighbors, the church is far more ornate, adorned with gilded ceilings and various representations of saints and religious figures. A visit to both these churches is enhanced by their contrast, derived from their different religious traditions.
Old North Church, 193 Salem St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 858 8231
St. Leonard’s Church, 320 Hanover St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 523 2110
The Old North Gift Shop houses two tucked away stores that are worth a visit: the Print Shop of Edes & Gill and Captain Jackson’s Historic Chocolate Shop. The Print Shop has an 18th century printing press to lend visitors the experience of printing in the colonial period. A historian and printer will be present to demonstrate how to use the printer and to explain the impact of printing on the colonies of the time. The Chocolate Shop has a staff dressed up in colonial garb who do a demonstration on the history of chocolate and how it is made, tying it back to the American colonies—don’t worry, you’ll get a taste! There are also little gifts for sale, such as cookbooks and souvenirs on the Revolution.
Old North Gift Shop, 193 Salem St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 523 4848
Right on Hanover Street, Caffe Vittoria prides itself in being the first Italian café in Boston. It creates a romantic atmosphere that is somehow missing from the New England Starbucks: small, metal-rimmed chairs and tables are scattered about across four floors of seating in front of the three bars and are surrounded by antique looking coffee machines and prints. The coffee, and especially the cappuccino, is worth your time, and it can be deliciously paired with the various Italian pastries that are also for sale. All the bars also sell liquor, including Italian Grappa, which is worth a shot. Or two.
Caffe Vittoria, 290-296 Hanover St., Boston, MA, USA, +1 617 227 7606