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North End: Boston’s Own Little Italy

May 16, 2012 Le Cordon Bleu Boston 0 Comments

North End: Boston’s Own Little Italy

Immigrants have been coming to Boston’s North End since Puritan settlers founded the city in 1630. As early as 1890 the neighborhood known as North End was being referred to as Little Italy. And by 1930, the population of this tiny one-square mile neighborhood was almost 100% Italian and Italian-American.

And just like it’s European namesake, the streets of North End are divided along regional lines with alternating blocks of Sicilian, Milanese, Napolian residents, shops, and restaurants. Culinary school students can find a wealth of Italian restaurants and stores that specialize in imported Italian ingredients and cooking supplies.

Speaking of Restaurants …

In what is one of the highest per capita restaurants to be found anywhere, North End has over 100 restaurants packed into the narrow confines of its one square mile. Add to that the unique gourmet gift stores, specialty groceries, cafes, and some of the finest gelateria this side of Italy and you’ve got a food destination that is a mecca for all New Englanders and out of town tourists. Visitors to North End literally can’t go more than 10 steps on most streets before coming across another testament to the variety and unique flavors of Italian cuisine.

With an area this small, visitor’s also become intimately involved in the inner workings of the businesses that call North End home. Delivery trucks occasionally clog the tight streets while dropping off crates full of the day’s produce and fresh fish from the nearby Atlantic Ocean. Shop employees yell out to the drivers to see if they are carrying anything special for the day, while older residents sit at sidewalk cafes drinking espresso and conversing in Italian. If it weren’t for all of the Red Sox and Patriots apparel, one could easily imagine walking the streets of a small Italian town. The pulse of Italian culture here is a perfect backdrop for going to cooking school in Boston.

Not Just Pizza and Pasta

Now that the dust has finally settled after years of dealing with the Big Dig transportation project, the North End has expanded its offerings to add some more sophisticated fare to the traditional staples you’d expect in an historic Italian neighborhood. North End eateries provide visitors both the expected kitsch of red, white, and green neon storefront signs of Cantina Italiana as well as more atmospheric dining in richly appointed trattoria and darkened cafes.

Specialty shops like Polcari’s Coffee and SalumeriaItaliana provide residents and visitors with spices, cured meats, pastas, Italian oils, and cheeses imported from Italy. They are a true taste of the Old Country.

The feel of Italy is so strong here in North End that you might just get fooled by some of the fake road signs that point to Napoli, Torino, or Roma. If you follow them, you won’t find Italy, but you certainly will find a delicious taste of it in the heart of Boston.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs in the Boston, Massachusetts area. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Boston for more information. 
Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures. Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.

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