The city of Boston is rich in history and known for its incredible food scene. Home to delicious treats like Boston Cream Pies, Lobster Rolls, and Boston Baked Beans. While you can find these tasty treats all over the city, one area of Boston that is notoriously famous for having great restaurants is Boston’s North End neighborhood.
The North End neighborhood (Boston’s Little Italy) is a one-square-mile waterfront community famous for its history and delicious Italian cuisine. As Boston’s oldest community, exploring Little Italy allows visitors to immerse themselves in the history and culture of this great city. Seeing how this community is packed with great restaurants, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when deciding which restaurant to visit. That’s where a food tour comes in handy.
Bencotto’s in Boston’s North End serves incredible Italian food in a relaxed and comfortable setting. Its convenient location at the corner of Hanover and Fleet Street puts you in the heart of the action in Boston’s Little Italy. Tables extend out onto the sidewalk, allowing visitors to choose to dine indoors or outdoors.
Bencotto’s menu is an eclectic mix of Italian dishes served with a Boston twist. From traditional starters like pasta, Fagioli soup, and Caprese salads to enticing main courses like pasta carbonara, Bencotto offers food for even the most demanding palates.
During the food tour we were able to taste their pumpkin ravioli. Homemade ravioli were filled with a delicious pumpkin filling and covered in a flavorful sauce made with European butter and sage. To make the dish extra special, it’s topped with a sprinkle of crispy bacon. The ravioli melt in your mouth with every bite!
In addition to the ravioli, we also tried Bencotto’s brick oven pizza. The pizza was cooked perfectly with just the right amount of melted mozzarella cheese on a crispy yet chewy crust. The pizza options at Bencotto are vast, so you’ll find one with ingredients you love!
professional advice: Even if you are sitting outside, go inside Bencotto. His open kitchen of his allows you to be a part of the food prep action and the brick pizza oven is a delightful sight!
2. Italian Salumeria
When you first arrive at Salumeria Italiana, you may be wondering why you are visiting a grocery store on a food tour. Trust me when I tell you, visit the grocery store! Of course, Salumeria Italiana is not your average American grocery store. The store opened over 50 years ago when an Italian mother was determined to feed her son the Italian food she grew up with. When she had trouble finding the exact products at her local supermarket, she decided to open a store and Salumeria Italiana was born.
Today, Salumeria Italiana delights Boston’s North End neighborhood by offering a great selection of imported Italian grocery delights. Products like specialty olive oils, pasta, vinegar, and more grace the shelves at Salumeria Italiana. These fabulous products are also used to create delicious meals made at Salumeria, like the muffuletta sandwich we tried during our food tour.
The Salumeria muffuletta is made from a careful selection of sausages for sale. The sandwich consists of thinly sliced meats such as Capicola, prosciutto, and ham that are layered on airy Italian bread and topped with a spread of olives, olive oil, and Italian cheeses. While it’s the combination of flavors that makes this sandwich, many will argue that the olive cream is the star of the show. Composed of pimiento-stuffed green olives, kalamata olives, garlic, pickled minced cauliflower, capers, and seasonings, the olive cream is the perfect accompaniment to the spicy meat and rich cheese in this sandwich.
The store is located on Freedom Trail, just around the corner from the Paul Revere House, making it a quick and easy stop if you’re in the area.
Pro tip: Take time to browse before grabbing your muffuletta sandwich. This charming little shop is full of hidden Italian culinary treasures.
3. Best of Red
Walking into the Boston Public Market, it’s easy to get distracted. You are surrounded by amazing food at every turn! Trust me when I tell you that several if not all of the food stalls here are worth your attention, especially Red’s Best!
Founded in 2008, Red’s Best owner Jared Auerbach set out to provide consumers with the freshest seafood. His brand is proud to represent anglers and their families who work every day to ensure that the daily catch reaches the homes of the most critical consumers.
While there are many delicious seafood dishes for sale at Red’s Best, their famous lobster roll keeps people coming back for more. Now when it comes to lobster rolls, most people have a flavor profile that they prefer. Some like it served hot with melted butter, and others like the lobster served cold, surrounded by mayonnaise and celery. Well, no matter your preference, you must try the lobster roll at Red’s Best.
This lobster roll is the perfect combination of deliciously tender lobster meat mixed with a slightly spicy mayo dressing. The mayonnaise is not overwhelming; it’s just a slight accent to allow the freshly caught lobster to be the star. When you combine this with the buttery soft roll that Red’s uses, you have a delicious lobster roll!
4. The Popover Lady
Another must-see still inside the Boston Public Market is The Popover Lady. When owner Naomi Cannistraci, aka “The Popover Lady,” found herself out of a job, she turned her sideline into a full-time business. Naomi, who had been selling popovers over the weekend at the farmer’s market, turned her love of baking into a business when she created The Popover Lady.
A popover is a light bun made with a beaten egg and baked in a specially designed popover pan or muffin pan. Popovers originated from the British Yorkshire pudding, but instead of being made with beef fat, New England popovers are made with butter. The result is a light and airy bun that is crispy on the outside but fluffy and buttery on the inside.
During your visit to The Popover Lady, you can sample a variety of delicious popover creations. I went for the Asiago cheese popover. This was a deliciously light popover bun filled with melted Asiago cheese. It really melted in my mouth! If cheese doesn’t appeal to you, try the cinnamon and sugar, chocolate drizzle, or toasted onion popover. You really can’t go wrong with any of them!
professional advice: The Popover Lady is famous, so come early for the best selection of popover flavors!
5. Modern pastry
A visit to Boston’s North End neighborhood would only be complete with a cannoli. One of the most famous places to enjoy a cannoli in Boston is Modern Pastry. This award-winning Italian pastry shop got its start generations ago when it opened its shop on Hanover Street in Little Italy. The Picariello family prides itself on creating Italian pastries using old world methods combined with modern technology to bring their customers their authentic Italian recipes, one of which is their prized cannolis.
The cannoli options at Modern Pastry seem endless when you first look at the menu. My favorite thing is that you, the customer, can customize your cannolis exactly how you want them. You start by choosing your shell. The shells consist of single ends dipped in chocolate or whole shells dipped in chocolate. Once you’ve selected the perfect shell, you can choose your fillings.
You can go traditional with the ricotta cream mixture or mix it with filling like vanilla or chocolate custard, whipped cream, or chantilly cream. Once you have your filling and shell, it’s time to choose your toppings. Toppings at Modern Pastry include traditional pistachios and fun toppings like sliced almonds and chocolate chips. Honestly, no matter how you craft your cannolis, you’re in for a delicious treat!
Pro Tip: Opt for mini shell cannolis and make various flavored concoctions. So you can try a little of everything!
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