When the weather outside is frightful, hearty pastas and red wine are just delightful! Travel itineraries to Boston are remiss if they lack a stop in the North End. The city's Italian enclave feels more like a stroll through a bustling European city instead of one through the heart of New England. Cozy cafés, candlelit dining rooms, and gelato shops converge on Hanover Street, the North End's busiest thoroughfare. Save time to wander along the side streets of the North End, and you'll find even more of Boston's best dining from everyone's favorite boot in the Mediterranean Sea. Herewith, a few of our favorites:
• Original Regina Pizzeria (11 ½ Thacher St., Boston): Veer off Hanover and look for the neon sign for Regina Pizzeria, the original location for Greater Boston's most popular place to get a pie. Pitchers of beer pair with brick-oven pizzas that range from the unpretentious to the gourmet, like chicken pesto and spinach prosciutto. Save room for sweet treats at one of many nearby bakeries.
• Giacomo's (355 Hanover St., Boston): Think of it as your way to pass time in the cannoli line across the street at Mike's Pastry. This cash-only venue offers delicious Italian classics at affordable prices. While the line for a table might get long, it usually moves fast. Seafood pastas are popular, and house specials for two come with a bottle of wine and provide a scrumptious date night that won't break the bank!
• Bricco/Bricco Panetteria (241 Hanover St., Boston): While Bricco may be one of the North End's more popular dining rooms (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were once guests!), it is equally one of its most authentic Italian venues. From the zucchini flowers stuffed with truffled ricotta cheese at the beginning of a meal to the decadent tiramisu at the end, Bricco will regale your stomach. Be sure to check out Bricco Panetteria behind the restaurant for carbs to take home or to your hotel room. The prosciutto and parmesan ciabatta is our favorite midnight snack!
• Neptune Oyster (63 Salem St., Boston): Crowds arrive early for Neptune Oyster, and for good reason! Neptune's raw bar and lobster rolls are seen as the best of the city, so try to plan a trip for lunch to have a shot at finding a space in the North End's premiere seafood venue.
• Modern Pastry (257 Hanover St., Boston): The cannoli wars between Modern Pastry and Mike's Pastry (located just a few blocks down Hanover) are legendary, but we'll give it to Modern this winter. The bakery fills your customized cannoli shells on the spot, and you can take them downstairs to an often-overlooked bar to enjoy a libation with your sweet treat.
photo courtesy of Regina Pizzeria