The flavors and friendly spirit of Italy meet the streets of Boston in this vibrant and welcoming neighborhood. With a distinct European flair, Boston’s North End, or Little Italy, has classically been one of the best places to explore for food, fun and history. Not to mention, this area is next door to Quincy Market, one of Boston’s most iconic tourist hotspots.
This small neighborhood of only 0.38 square miles has been occupied by Boston residents since the 1630s. Early on, locals like minster Increase Mather encouraged those of Christian faith to settle and grow the community. By the turn of the century, Paul Revere has built his home there and the North End became the resting spot of many at the Coop Hill Burying Ground. By the 18th century, this was one of the trendiest places to live in the city. Then more immigrants moved in diversifying the population and causing some issues with crowding and disease. These days, about one third of all residents are still from Italy or are of Italian descent, while many young professionals and empty nesters have discovered this cozy corner of Boston to settle in as well.
Many people will agree that the highlight of visiting the North End is the food. It doesn’t get much more authentic than all the mom and pop restaurants littered throughout the alleyways and narrow, cobbled streets. Choosing a favorite Italian restaurant in this area is like picking a favorite child, but there are a few notable spots.
First of all, the top tourist destination for sweet as to be Mike’s Pastry. The lines are often around the corner to pick up boxes of signature cannolis tied in classic blue string boxes. However, if you hope to avoid the lines it’s perfectly acceptable to have a look at Modern Pastry as well for baked cookies tasting like they came straight from Italy. For an authentic sit-down experience that is a hidden gem, visit Café Vitrolla. They also offer tasty cannolis and lobster tails (cream-filled flaky pastries), but you can also order a crafted cocktail, homemade gelato or real espresso.
Dessert can be enjoyed first, but the real meal comes in the form of fresh pastas, seafood and meats. For heaping portions of eggplant or chicken parmigiana, head to Familia Giorgio. Other great pasta dishes can be found at the Trattoria II Panino.
After a hearty meal, take a tour of the Old North Church along the famous Freedom Trail, or check out the original home of the famous midnight rider Paul Revere, which has now been converted into an interest museum. For a run open space, the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park commemorates Boston’s Bicentennial with greenery, fountains and performance area. There is also The Greenway which used to be a highway that provides walking space and flora before heading into the narrow streets of Little Italy.
There is a strong Roman Catholic community in the North End, which leads to several festivals and celebrations revolving around the feast days of saints and religious figures. There are spiritual processions throughout the Spring and Summer, with many events accompanying them. Check out the St. Agrippina di Mineo Feast at the beginning of August or St. Joseph’s in October. There is special things to eat at the restaurants, singing in the streets and unique church gathering during these times.