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A Guide to Bostons Italy: The North End

Discover Bostons oldest neighborhood and the citys Italian-American enclave


A neighborhood famed for countless Italian restaurants, pastry, and Prince spaghettiis now one of Bostons most highly coveted areas, in particular for its proximity to Faneuil Hall, downtown and Bostons waterfront. Hanover Street, the neighborhoods main stretch, is full of Italian restaurants and gelato stands among specialty and souvenir shops. July and August are highlighted by a series of street festivals, or feste, honoring various saints, and by local community events that draw people from all over the city.

The North End was designed to be a completely self-sufficient inner city haven, one my family has lived in this neighborhood for over 100 years, states Toni Gilardiof The Gilardi Group. It was self-governed and had its own butcher, fisheries, groceries, retail shops, imported goods, schools, churches, and health center, courtesy of my Aunt Elaine Wilson who saw a need for residents to have easy access to healthcare.

Today, people from all over the world now call this thriving neighborhood their home. Even with the modern changes to our landscape and demographic, the integrity of a safe, friendly, family-oriented, and convenient neighborhood still exists, says Gilardi.

Never been? We give you four reasons to walk its cobblestone streets, where Gilardi promises you can still smell the sweet scent of garlic and tomatoes.


Pick up the perfect slice

When it comes to pizza, Regina Pizzeriais worth the dough. The Thacher Street storefront, complete with welcoming neon signage, has been drawing lines of devotees since 1926 including Gibson Sothebys International Realtys David Ashton, a former North End resident who vacations at his family home in Italy every year.


Regina Pizzeria

Pizzeria Regina has the best pizza on the planet!Be sure to top it all off with a stroll over to Mike's Pastryon Hanover Street for a take-home dessert.Like most in the North End, the place gets packed, but the lines move quickly and the pastry is worth the wait. Top it all off with espresso and gelato from Vittoria Caff, world-renowned as the first Italian caff in Boston. Buon appetito!

Nick Minieri

Vittoria Caff | Nick Minieri

Enjoy an authentic Italian meal

Photographed by Jazz Martin

Mare | Jazz Martin/Scene Magazine

In the food lovers paradise that is Bostons Little Italy, hitting all the best eateries is a tall order. But these select few should get you started. Indulge in rich house-made pastas at Briccowindows open onto the street in balmy weather. Antico Fornois a rustic neighborhood staple. and its signature wood-burning brick oven makes any dish a hit. AtMare, seafood lovers like Gilardi can delight in Italian-stylefrutti de mare.The raw bar features more than a dozen types of oysters nightly. For special occasions, Mamma Mariaserves up extraordinary service and a regional Italian menu anchored by local ingredients. Yes, some restaurants are tourist traps, but know that youll return home feeling stuffed no matter where you dine.

Take In 300-plus years ofhistory

Bostons popularFreedom Trailwinds its way through the North End to historic American Revolution sites including Old North Churchand Copp's Hill Burying Ground. Dating back to 1680, The Paul Revere Housewas once home to the revolutionary silversmith, famed for his 1775 midnight ride through the Boston area.Enjoy living history presentations, music, and demonstrations of traditional crafts at the connected museum.


Old North Church | Aimee Seavey

Attend a summer feast

Every summer, as many as 250,000 people cram the neighborhood to watch traditional processions,lights adorning the streets and the sweet smell of sausage in the air.

My family, from Sciacca Sicily, celebrates Fishermans Feastevery year, based on the devotion of the fishermen from Sciacca to theMadonna del Soccorso, Gilardi says. Aside from Saint Anthonys Feast, this one of thelargestof the North End's traditional feast observances.

There are five full-scale feasts now, including the Fishermans Feast, Saint Anthonys Feast, St. Lucy, St. Agrippina, and Madonna della Cava.

Flight of the Angel

Flight of the Angel | Fisherman's Feast

Franco Corso Live Entertainment

Franco Corso Live Entertainment | Fisherman's Feast

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