Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Taste of Boston 2016: Part 2

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Well hello! It's been hectic to say the least but now that we have Labor Day behind us, we're continuing where we left off - Boston eats! This post is dedicated to the North End neighborhood of Boston, which is also known as 'Little Italy.'


Just before you enter the North End neighborhood, you can't help but notice Boston's Public Market. Inside, you'll easily get lost in the various vendor stalls full of local products from fudge, chocolate, pasta, nuts, cheeses, charcuterie, and so much more. We visited the Boston Public Market quite a few times during our visit but if you get the chance, you simply cannot miss the 'Haymarket Farmer's Market,' Happening on Fridays and Saturday's a side street outside of the Boston Public Market is closed off to traffic where wholesale produce vendors set up shop. You'll find rock bottom prices on fresh produce! Fridays tend to have the best selection at the highest prices - for example, $1 for a pound of strawberries, a couple bunches of bananas, large melons, etc. Saturdays tend to have less than perfect selections at the lowest prices - for example, $.25 for a pound of strawberries, 2 for $1 on large watermelons, etc. So depending on whether you're looking for the best selection or the lowest price, you're bound to find a great deal at the market!

The following places are all within the North End neighborhood and are easily walking distance from each other. The best way to explore the neighborhood is to just immerse yourself and pop into the various shops to touch, taste and smell...

105 Salem St, 
Boston, MA 02113
First up is Polcari's Coffee. Interestingly, my favorite item in the store is not coffee but rather their Italian Lemon slush. You can also find large bins of spices throughout the store along with imported Italian ingredients.

112 Salem St, 
Boston, MA 02113

Our first Italian meal in the North End was at La Familia Giorgio's. What drew us in was their after work hours dinner special for$20 per person. Included in the special for each person is bread service, a large green salad, choice of entree, glass of wine and a small cannoli for dessert. Little did we realize that the entree was large enough for a family... and we ended up to two entrees that we barely made a dent in. So if you visit, plan accordingly and wear your stretchy pants and/or fast a day or two beforehand lol.

255 Hanover St, 
Boston, MA 02113

Got a sweet tooth? There are plenty of gelato places in the neighborhood but my favorite is Cafe Paradiso. They have exceptional gelato and I particularly like mine with a shot of Italian espresso poured over, aka affogato. I ordered their tiramisu gelato with the espresso in the picture below...

63 Salem St, 
Boston, MA 02113

One of our favorite restaurants in the North End is Neptune's Oyster. This is a highly popular restaurant (rightfully so) and can easily have wait times up to 3-4 hours! Here's a tip - arrive 30-45 minutes prior to opening to enjoy lunch here. Stand in line and aim to be within the first 20 guests inline. There are only 20 or so seats inside which contributes to the lengthy wait times. And since it's fairly small, the tables are small and relatively close to each other, leaving little privacy. Instead of a table, grab a seat at the bar which will give you more elbow room to enjoy your meal! My husband enjoyed his scallop dish while I ordered their lobster roll. Sadly the bun came really soggy that it didn't hold up well as a sandwich. So instead, I ate my meal as a lobster topped green salad, which was perfect for me!


130 Salem St, 
Boston, MA 02113

Another one of our favorite restaurants is Monica's Mercato & Salumeria. Here, we have probably the best Italian sub sandwiches in all of Boston... and they know it too! It's the perfect ratio of fresh baked bread, meats, cheeses and dressing to tie it all in. We first had a sample taste offered to us and we just had to go back the next day to get a whole sub sandwich for ourselves. It was worth it and we're still dreaming about that sub sandwich! Aside from sandwiches, they have a pizzeria in the basement/lower level. From what I sampled, their pizzas were delicious and I hope to go back and get more lol.

69 Salem St, 
Boston, MA 02113

Being that the area is focused on Italian fare, you can't miss all the pizza shops available! One we checked out is Ernesto's Pizza. Here, the slices are enormous and are equivalent to 2 large New York City sized slices. We shared a slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza and also a large arancini, which is a rice ball made with risotto that was stuffed with spinach and cheese. It was certainly a filling meal that cost us less than $10 to feed us both!

46 Cross St, 
Boston, MA 02113

Lastly, there's a lot of talk about cannoli in the North End. You'll have folks clamor and stand in line at the ever popular Mike's Pastry. There are others that love the newer bakery, Modern Pastry. But for me, I'll head to Maria's Pastry Shop. Why? It is cannoli in it's truest form. The perfect ratio of crispy shell, and smooth ricotta filling is spot on. So what's the difference between the cannoli? I think Mike's filling uses too much whipped topping or whipped cream, making it more of a mousse filling in various flavors. Additionally, the cannoli are pre-filled and sold, making them a bit more soggy than the others. Modern Pastry has a little more authentic filling but is filled upon ordering, resulting in a nice crispy shell. But Maria's has the perfect crispy shell that's filled to order and the filling is authentic and not too sweet. It's simply perfect...

So if you find yourself in Boston's North End, I hope the above places are ones you check out! There are other places we visited not included here but I'll have to save those for our next trip... because we definitely can't wait to go back soon! 

Stay tuned - the last part of our Boston trip is coming up... and we're focusing on Cambridge, MA!

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