by Anna Barry
Photography by Marissa Wu
Boston’s North End is known for its authentic Italian pasta, desserts and cozy vibes. No matter where you go, you will be transported out of Boston and into an authentic Italian town.
Hanover Street is the main street in the North End. You can find restaurant after restaurant mixed in with the occasional dessert shop. On Hanover Street, check out Giacomo’s Ristorante or Bricco Ristorante. These restaurants get the most foot traffic, so if you choose to try out one of these sports, make sure you get a reservation or be prepared to eat early. If you aren’t able to get a reservation on the coveted Hanover Street, don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of adorable restaurants lined on the side streets of the North End that are just as authentic. These restaurants attract the locals and the in-the-know visitors who crave authentic Italian that is undisturbed by tourists. If you are drawn to a more intimate, off-the-beaten path restaurant be sure to try out the likes of Trattoria Di Monica located on Prince Street or Mamma Maria located in North Square.
For New York residents, the Italian cuisine found in the North End is quite comparable to the food there. “I'm 50 percent Italian so my mom makes a lot of Italian and NY has good Italian, but the North End is definitely good and comparable,” said Julia Holmer (Questrom ’18).
If you see long lines flowing out the shop and into the street, then you have stumbled upon either Mike’s Pastry or Modern Pastry. These two are landmarks in the North End and have a long, contentious rivalry for the best cannoli of the neighborhood. Visitors to the North End always have a favorite between the two and are more than happy to share their opinions on their preference. Make sure you take a box to go not only to save some pastries for later, but also to show off your favorite pastry shop by the blue ribbon, for Mike’s, or the red, for Modern.
“I love Mike's Pastry and any of the small pizza shops they have,” said Camilla Kemppainen (SAR ’18). “They’re small and a lot less packed than most of the restaurants so it's nice to go and Mike's has the best cannoli!”
If you want to walk off all the calories you just consumed, head over to the Old North Church, the historic location where Paul Revere received the signal to let the revolutionaries know that the British were coming. Old North Church is not only a historic site, but one of the most stunning churches in the city. The North End is also the location of Paul Revere’s home, which is open to the public.
Not only can you walk off your food coma, but you can laugh it off at the comedy club, Improv Asylum, located on Hanover Street. This comedy club has been voted one of Boston’s best and is a must-see with a variety of shows ranging from “The Show Against Humanity,” based on the game Cards Against Humanity—sure to make you laugh so hard that you cry—to the classic improv show, “Main Stage Show.” A huge plus is that students can receive a $5 discount on tickets expect for the main shows on Mondays, Tuesdays and Saturdays.
The unmistakable characteristic of the North End is its ability to not only transport visitors into a quiet, more serene scene than the hustle and bustle of the city, but it also has the character to make you want to keep coming back for more.
“As a whole, I feel like the North End has such a signature style. It is like a community within a community,” said Alexis Chestnov (COM ’18). “It gives me a similar feeling as to when I'm in the Battery Park area in NYC. It is like I'm in a neighborhood-type setting even though I know I'm still in a big city.”
Whether you stop in the North End for a nice Italian dish, dessert or to laugh, make sure that you make a trip to the area so that you can seep yourself in the character and authenticity permeating from the North End.