This section of Boston is rich with Italian culture, that's why the North End is known as “Little Italy.” While walking around this neighborhood, you can hear people talking in Italian. The scents of garlic, fresh basil, and sweet smells of bakery pastries permeate the air. You can almost taste it. This small five block area just so happens to be the oldest in the city of Boston and home to 87 Italian restaurants and bakeries. It has winding narrow streets and towering brick buildings. The two key streets in this historic neighborhood are Hanover and Salem, which are parallel to each other. The roads are lined with countless Italian restaurants, and cafés, pastry, and imported goods shops. Italians have dominated this area for many years, but it hasn’t always been this way. The first group to reside in the North End were English Puritans in the 1600s. Over time, Irish, Russian, and Polish came to the Boston area until the 1800s when a new massive wave of immigrants arrived, the Italians. Many immigrants living in the North End did not want the peddler and dockyard jobs that were available. This forced them to move elsewhere, but the North End remained dominated by Italians, and still is today. Part of the reason why “Little Italy” remains so rich in culture is because the customs and cultures of Italian-Americans have changed very little. The neighborhood has an inviting feel, welcoming all people to visit.
The subway is a great way to get in and out of Boston if you do not want to bring your car. Boston’s subway has different colored lines that make many stops in and outside the city. Tickets can be purchased at a kiosk from all of the subway stations. If you choose to take the subway to Boston, get off at the Haymarket Square Station stop on the Orange and Green lines. Other nearby stops include North Station (Orange and Green lines), Government Center (Green and Blue lines), and Aquarium (Blue line). One fare costs under $2. For more MBTA information see their Web site
North Station is served by commuter trains from north of the city, and the Downeaster Amtrak service running between Boston and Portland, ME.
Finding parking on the street can be a hassle because spots are limited. Luckily, there are several parking garages available near the North End. Many restaurants in this area also provide valet parking for customers. Taking a cab is a great way to get around Boston. Taxi cabs are everywhere. If you need a cab, here are a few you can call: Chill Out First Class Cab: (617) 212-3763. Planet Tran: (888) 756-8876. Top Cab: (781) 286-5490. North End Taxi Cab: (617) 720-1111.
The best way to get to the North End is to follow the Freedom Trail from downtown Boston.
- Old North Church is also known as Christ Church. It was Boston’s second Anglican church. Old North is most famous for sending the message from Paul Revere that the British were coming by lighting the steeple with lanterns. Paul Revere had convinced congregant Robert Newman to alert the American militia in Concord, Massachusetts to British troop movements. Newman placed two lanterns in the church steeple and alerted the militia to the approaching British army as Paul Revere began his ride to warn John Handcock and Samuel Adams. By taking a tour of the church, its history is revealed while exploring the bell tower, and its crypt. Guided tours are available seven days a week and costs $5 for adults and $4 for children. Self-guided tours are $2. Located at 193 Salem Street. Phone (617) 523-6676. For more information visit the Old North Web site at .
- Paul Revere House. Paul Revere is known for his midnight ride from Boston to Lexington, warning all the people along the way that the British were coming. He owned the home for over three decades and is Boston’s oldest building, dating back to the late 1600s. Admission for a tour of the house is $3 for adults and $1 for children. Tours are available seven days a week until 5PM Located at 19 North Square. Phone (617)523-2338 Visit their Web site for more information .
There rarely is a dull moment with a different Italian Festival every weekend throughout the summer. In August, there is a festival every weekend. The themes of many festivals are based on Catholic saints.
- Walk down Hanover Street - Hanover Street, the main street of the North End, is great for a summer evening stroll. Check out many of the best local restaurants and stop to eat when the line is short outside of any establishment. Most North End restaurants don't do reservations.
- Boston By Foot. Guided walking tours highlighting the architecture and history of the North End.
- The Harborwalk. A trail that winds along parts of Boston Harbor and connects the historic wharves of the Boston waterfront.
- The Improv Asylum, 216 Hanover St. Famous dinner and comedy club.
- The Freedom Trail, ☎ +1 617 357-8300. Address: 148 Tremont St. Web site:. This exciting 2.5 mile walking tour brings you to sixteen national historic sites from the times of the American Revolution. The ninety minute tour makes stops at famous locations including Paul Revere’s house, and Old North Church. Tour guides are easy to spot in their colonial style attire and make this learning experience fun and interesting for people of all ages. Tickets are $29 for adults and $19 for children. Tours are available seven days a week at noon and depart from the visitor information center in Boston common.
- Annual Saint Anthony’s Feast and the Festival of Santa Lucia, ☎ +1 617-723-8669. Held the weekend of the last Sunday of August since 1919 on Endicott, Thacher, and North Margin Streets. Features traditional Italian-American entertainment, authentic Italian festival food and time-honored processions and customs.
One of Boston’s largest events of the summer, Saint Anthony’s Feast offers colorful parades, strolling singers, the Filippo Berio Culinary Pavilion, Italian folk dancing, the Pizzeria Regina Open Air Piazza, continuous live entertainment and religious and cultural services throughout the weekend.
Nearly one hundred pushcarts line the decorated streets, awaiting visitors to sample an array of traditional Italian foods including sausage with peppers & onions, calamari, quahogs, pasta, cannoli, zeppole, handmade torrone and gelato. Visitors can also browse the selection of Italian gifts and novelties and pick up a souvenir. Children of all ages can try their luck at games of skill, or enjoy pony rides and small amusements.
The highlight of the weekend is the 10 hour Grand Procession of Saint Anthony beginning at Noon on Sunday. The statue of Saint Anthony is borne on the shoulders of the members and devotees through the winding streets of the North End along with marching bands, drum & bugle corps, color guards, floats and hundreds of followers. The procession culminates with the return of the Statue of Saint Anthony to Endicott Street as confetti, streamers and balloons cascade from the rooftops.
All entertainment is free and open to the public. Visitors will have to pay at vendor stands and piazza.
This is a neighborhood where residents walk to local fruit stores, butcher shops and corner markets for their groceries.
There is a plethora of Italian restaurants in the North End: the following is only a partial list. If you don't know exactly where to eat but know you want good Italian food, all you need to do is walk down either Hanover or Salem Streets, and you'll have no shortage of choices.
Cannolis are an essential North End experience. There are two schools of thought when it comes to Cannoli in Boston. There are people who swear by Mike's Pastry and people who prefer Modern Pastry. These are both fine options and you can really just go to whichever has the shorter line (usually Modern since its less famous). Realistically, places with bad cannoli don't last long in the North End so you can get a good one pretty much anywhere.
- Al Dente Ristorante, 109 Salem St, ☎ +1 617 523-0990. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. This Italian gem has an amazing selection. Choose from about a dozen pasta types and sauce types. For a truly excellent combo, try one of their homemade pastas with a tangy vodka sauce. Lap the extra sauce down with the fresh bread and clear your pallet with some nice cold Peroni beer.
- Antico Forno, 93 Salem St., ☎ +1 617 723-6733. daily until 10PM. This busy little restaurant has a great atmosphere and good service. Dim lighting gives it a romantic setting with brick walls and a fireplace in the center of the dining room. The prices on the large menu vary, but most main courses are under $20. This restaurant makes their own pasta and sauce from scratch. A good majority of the menu includes pasta and seafood dishes.
- Café Pompeii, ☎ +1 617 227-1562. Address: 278 Hanover St. Hours: daily until 4AM. Cafe Pompeii is separated into a beautifully designed espresso bar and restaurant. The café is designed with murals painted on the walls and ceilings in each of the rooms. There are also intricate mosaic designs and white pillars throughout the café. In 2006 the Boston Pheonix picked Café Pompeii as one of the best North End Italian restaurants. Their café menu includes hot chocolate, cappuccino, and lattes under $3. Your money is spent well here with the café’s large portion sizes. The dining half of this place has an oversized separate menu. It lists choices for pasta, seafood, veal, and steak, which are all under $23.
- Café Vittoria, 296 Hanover St, ☎ +1 617 227-7606. daily until 12AM. In 2006 The Phantom Gourmet gave Café Vittoria a ‘Great Ate’ award. This place has many awards including ‘City’s Best Coffee House’ from City Guide in 2005. Café Vittoria sells cannolis, tiramisu, éclairs, and over ten flavors of gelato. They have an extensive drink menu including their signature martinis and specialty drinks. The café has a cigar lounge and hookah bar in the basement with a casual laid-back atmosphere.
- Dolce Vita Ristorante, ☎ +1 617 720-0422. Address: 221 Hanover St. Web site. Hours: daily until 7PM. Dolce Vita was featured in the Improper Bostonian and Traveler’s Journal for its great food. This restaurant has a comfortable and open atmosphere. When the weather is nice, the windows open out to the street. Dolce Vita has reasonable prices with appetizers starting at $5. Unlike other restaurants, a unique appetizer on the menu is a fresh fruit platter. This restaurant specializes in all kinds of meat like veal, lamb, chicken, and sirloin steaks. Prices for main courses do not exceed $35.
- Florentine Cafe, 333 Hanover St., ☎ +1 617 227-1777. daily until 1AM. The Florentine Cafe is known for their superior food and as one of the oldest bars in Boston. Nice ambiance, looks European. Windows open wide to the street in warm weather, just as cafes do in London. Big, friendly after work crowd at the ample bar. The menu presents a wide range of specialties from pasta to racks of lamb.
- Galleria Umberto, ☎ +1 617 227-5709. Address: 289 Hanover St. Hours: Mo-Sa 11AM-2PM. Hours: open only for lunch, this often-overlooked North End spot not only serves up fantastic Sicilian specialties, it's one of the cheapest places to eat lunch in the whole city, with calzones from $2-3 and square Sicilian pizza slices under a dollar. Locals in the know form a queue in front of the counter that can spill out the front door. Be warned though: this place is strictly counter service, and the focus is completely on the food. You'll have to eat on your feet, or (here's a tip) walk north down Hanover and sit on a stump overlooking the harbor and the Coast Guard station.
- Giacomo's, ☎ +1 617 523-9026. Address: 355 Hanover St. Hours: Mo-Th 5PM-10PM, Fr-Sa 5PM-10:30PM, Sun 4PM-9:30PM. Legendary but tiny Italian place that's always a great value. It's one of the more popular restaurants in the Northend, but they don't take reservations, so expect a long line out the door and down the street. Dinner and wine around $20. They only accept cash, but there is an ATM across the street if you forget.
- Gigi Gelateria, ☎ +1 617 270-4243. Address: 272 Hanover St. Web site. Hours: daily until 12AM. This little gelato place makes their gelato in the shop. In 2006 it was given a ‘Great Ate’ award by the Phantom Gourmet. Boston Magazine, and Travel Guide to New England: ‘Yankee,’ also wrote articles on the galateria, which are displayed on the walls. They serve almost twenty flavors of gelato that are subject to change each week. The gelato is just under $5. The gelateria also sells various liqueurs, imported beer and wine, espresso, and cappuccino drinks. Their gelato only contains 2.5% butterfat, compared to 16% in regular ice cream. No heavy cream, butter, or eggs are used to make the gelato.
- Lucia, ☎ +1 617 367-2353. Address: 415 Hanover St. Web site. Hours: daily until 11PM. Like the menu, this restaurant is very large. Unlike other ristorantes in this area, Lucia offers an excellent selection of cheese and has a fine Italian cuisine. Just like restaurants in Italy, each page of the menu is dedicated to one category of food like salad, seafood, chicken, or pasta. The menu says all dishes are made to order and to allow the chef ample time to prepare the dish. Almost all of the main courses are under $25. Valet parking is available.
- Maurizio's, ☎ +1 617 367-1123. Address: 364 Hanover St. Web site: Maurizio's, top rated in the Zagat Guide and three time winner of Boston Magazine's Best of Boston Award, has been part of the North End dining experience for over twelve years. Chef Maurizio Loddo hails from the Italian Island of Sardinia and brings a wealth of additional cooking experience from France, Germany and Spain. Wines from Maurizio's exciting list are selected to complement the food. You will find exceptional and affordable picks from all over the globe.
- Mike's Pastry, ☎ +1 617 742-3050. Address: 300 Hanover St. Web site:. Hours: daily until 10PM. Mike’s pastry is another hotspot in the North End. Tourists and locals wait patiently in long lines out the door, and down the block to get their hands on the sweets. Here, you can find Italian pastries like cannolis and napoleons. Mike’s also makes gelato, cakes, and biscottis. In addition, this pastry shop offers to customize your cakes for any event. If you don’t feel like eating dessert, try their fabulous hot beverages like espresso, or cappuccino. There are places to sit inside, but the shop is mostly a take-out style establishment. Mike's Pastry only accepts cash.
- Modern Pastry, ☎ +1 617 523-3783. Address: 257 Hanover St. Web site:. Hours: daily until 10PM. Modern pastry is a seventy-year-old family run business that is one of the most popular bakeries in the North End. If you go here, be prepared to wait in a long line. Don’t want to wait in line? No problem. You can order their products on their website. Modern pastry presents a wide variety of fresh Italian pastries like cannolis (which are made upon order), cakes, chocolate ganache, and torrone. But that’s not all. They sell imported Italian goods like pasta, olive oil, fresh breads, coffee beans, and Nutella. Modern Pastry only accepts cash.
- Neptune Oyster, ☎ +1 617 742-3474. Address: 63 Salem Street. Hours: 11:30AM-10:30PM Sun-Th, 11:30AM-11:30PM Fri-Sat. Excellent local seafood and raw bar. Restaurant is small but ambiance and food quality are extraordinary. On any given weekend, you will find people lining up outside the front door before they open in order to secure one of their famous Lobster Rolls.
- Osteria Rustico, ☎ +1 617 742-8770. Address: 85 Canal St. Hours: Lunch M-F 11AM-5PM, Dinner Th-Sa 5PM-10PM. There are only six tables and the menu is not very extensive, however the exceptional food makes up for this. For lunch, be sure to try the Casalinga with grilled chicken and for dinner, the seafood pasta is out of this world.
- Pizzeria Regina, ☎ +1 617 227-0765. Address: 11½ Thatcher St. Price="Cash only">Where the locals go to get their pizza. Expect to wait outside in line during peak hours. There are also fast-food style locations around town, though it's not quite the same quality as the main location.
- Rabia’s Ristorante, ☎ +1 617 227-6637. Address: 73 Salem St. Web site. Hours: daily until 10PM. Rabia’s has a creative and unique atmosphere with romantic dim lighting. Grapes and grape vines (which look very real) dangle and weave around trellises attached to the ceiling. If you are craving seafood, Rabia’s is the place to go. The menu is heavily focused on all kinds of seafood, including items straight from their raw bar. Appetizers start around $5 and all main courses are under $30. The menu also has a large assortment of meats and pasta dishes.
- Taranta, ☎ +1 617 720-0052. Address: 210 Hanover St. Web site: Hours: 5:30PM-10PM daily. Chef Jose Duarte brings a fusion of Peruvian and Italian in his Certified Green restaurant. The wine list consists of organic, sustainable, or biodynamic wines only. Excellent food quality and great service.
- Villa Francesca, 150 Richmond Street (Just of Hanover St.), ☎ +1 617 367-2948. Very good Italian food.
- The Fours (166 Canal St). The Fours is a sports bar that specializes in some great Irish pub dishes. All sorts of memorabilia litter the walls including jerseys and equipment signed by famous Boston athletes and athletes from all over the country.
- Polcari's Coffee, 105 Salem St, ☎ +1 617 227-0786. 9:30AM-6PM M-Sa. Old school North End coffee house founded in 1932.
- Thinking Cup, 236 Hanover St, ☎ +1 857 233-5277. North End outpost of this Boston mini-chain.
- Onyx Hotel, 155 Portland Street (Located between the districts of West End and North End), ☎ +1 617 557-9955.
- Boston Furnished Apartments, 617-357-6900, Boston Furnished Apartments is a furnished apartment rental agency, offering an alternative to a hotel room. These rentals are private homes, condos or apartments located in residential buildings within the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, North End, South End, and Financial District neighborhoods. There are monthly, weekly and nightly rentals available. The homes range in size from smaller studios to one or two bedroom apartments, and all have fully equipped kitchens and private bathrooms. This is a unique way to experience the city like a Bostonian, in a brownstone home. Rental paperwork is required and most credit cards are accepted.
The North End is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Boston.
|Routes through North End|
|END ← Cambridge ←||N S||→ Downtown → Fenway-Kenmore|
|Malden ← Charlestown ←||N S||→ Downtown → Jamaica Plain|