Boston’s Italian North End

I Say Barrahdda, You Say Boorrrata…

During our stay in Boston, we had a little time to go to the North End. My cousin Ron watched my three children, plus his own three, so that Himself, my brother, cousin Cassandra and I could shop. I was on a quest to find real Burrata. I had purchased some from Whole Foods and enjoyed it tremendously but was still wanting the real deal from Italy. We stopped off at the Salumeria first, for sure they would have it.

“Excuse me.” I said to the very handsome Roman God behind the counter, “Do you have Barrahdda?” I asked in my best Boston accent.
Looking confused, he said, “Oh you meana Boorrrata. Boo-rrra-ta.” He said in a very cute Italian accent, rolling his r’s perfectly.
“Sì, Boo-rrra-ta.” Now dropping my Boston accent.
“No, we ahdda it.”

At least I learned how to properly say Burrata and he learned Boston speak. But I did pick up some tomato paste, in the tube, and some anchovie paste. You laugh, but I can’t get this stuff where I live.

Next Stop Mike’s!

We wanted some pastry. And where does one get the best pastry? Mike’s. We loaded up on macaroons. Delish. Cannoli. Like no other. Pizzelles. Not as good as mine. And some individual boxes of Torrone for the kids (me.) I also wanted the Italian Rainbow Cookies which are really tasty, very fresh and not overly marzipan. We stopped in next door, Caffé Vittoria’s for some espresso to have with our pastry.

Off The Beaten Path

After Mike’s we all decided to go down the little side streets of Little Italy were the locals all shop, not those touristy places. I was still on the hunt for my Burrata. I asked a nice gentleman who had the best cheese and he directed me to this shop, Tutto Italiano, were he said they make homemade Mozzarella. We went, but they had no Burrata but he did have some beautiful homemade goods such as calzone, Risi Torte, stuffed peppers, and pizza, just all sitting out on the counter smelling delectable. If I hadn’t eaten at Mike’s I would have liked that. Next time. Then we moved on to J. Pace and Sons, a deli and Italian Grocer on Cross Street. They did not have Burrata but did have Burrini. I have never heard of this one. The man said it is an Italian soft cheese formed around a knob of butter. This I had to have. He said you pop out the butter and spread on the bread and serve it with the cheese. That tiny knob of butter is gold! I also bought their small Mortadella and Sopressada for my Christmas antipasti.

Burrata Where Have You Been All My Life?

The good people at J. Pace sent us around the corner and said for sure this place would have the Burrata. They were right. The Fresh Cheese Shop had it all. If you click on the link, the guy on the left was the one who served us. We walked in there and Himself said, “You got any cheese?” We all cracked up, cheese was everywhere. And he had my Burrata, very fresh, so fresh it was hard to get out of the bag without completely turning into this glorious puddle of cream on my caprese salad. Look how wonderful it is. Nothing like the Belgioioso’s Burrata I had purchased from Whole Foods. You must get the real thing if you want to experience Burrata. I am forever greatful to Nicole at Art and Aioli and Marie at Proud Italian Cook for introducing me to this cheese.

Polcari’s Coffee

On one of the side streets we made this seredipitous discovery. Polcari’s Coffee. This little shop was candy for the eyes. Every corner filled with some type of treat. The biggest paydirt was finding my Anise Oil which I use for my pizzelles and other Italian cookies and the Mille Fiori another top secret ingredient of Italian baking. Mille Fiori meaning “Thousand Flowers” consists of the many flowers of Italy and mostly tastes citrusy and vanilla-ish to me. Just a tiny drop will do you and it must be stored in the refrigerator once opened. It also came in many colors but I got the clear as the other colors can stain badly.

We could not leave Polcari’s without obtaining one of their stovetop espresso makers. We get that it is an espresso maker but the box reads that it makes barley too. Huh? Click on the picture for a closer view. Anyone get that?

It was the little things like oils, extracts, and cheese that made my day in the North End. This stuff is way better than any T- Shirt. Unless it is a Red Sox one.

A Constant Source Of Entertainment: ICU Bloopers

Working as an RN in ICU was like being in a tragic movie with bits of comic relief thrown in to keep the sanity. Our days could be so sad as we witnessed great suffering and death but every once in a while something light-hearted would happen to put smiles on our faces and let us know that what we are doing was not in vain. One night I received report on the two patients I would be in charge of for the night. The patient in bed A had just had a mild heart attack and was scheduled for a procedure in the morning, therefore I would be busy getting his chart ready by making sure his labs were complete, x-ray done, etc. The patient in bed B was waiting to be transferred out and would be very easy; after a quick peek around the curtain I knew he would not give me any trouble. After a bit, a senior nurse came in to say hello to me and peeked around the curtain to my patient in bed B. “Oh my word, George you look fantastic!” George was sitting up in bed, hair combed, and appeared to be dozing. My co-worker then turned to me and said, “I have never seen George look so good, wow, he must have had a great day!” I allowed her to go on and on about how wonderful George looked; I was enjoying this for sure. But I finally ended her monologue with, “Sue, he’s been dead an hour.”
She flushed red, turned on a dime, and slinked out of my room.

*I must assure you that all of my ICU stories are true but names of co-workers and patients are always changed to protect their privacy. If fact, it was so long ago I don’t even remember most of their names but I do remember how each one of them touched my life.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!
Oh wait! My children will be putting their shoes by the hearth tonight along with some carrots for the deer and cookies and milk for St. Nicholas. Tomorrow, Dec. 6th, is St. Nicholas Day, the day we celebrate the good that St. Nicholas had done in the 3rd century as a bishop in Myra, Turkey. He is the patron saint of children and was a Godly man who had goodies baked for the little ones. He also helped a friend who had lost his daughters’ dowries in the shipping industry. To avoid the oldest daughter having to make a living of disrepute, St. Nicholas tossed gold coins through the girls’ window one evening. Their stockings drying by the window, had caught the gold coins thus starting the tradition of placing gifts in our stockings. Our children enjoy receiving chocolate coins, clementines, nuts, and a small gift, usually an ornament. Hopefully the Krampus won’t come this year! Then for us, we spend the rest of the Advent Season avaiting the Birthday of Christ, Christ’s Mass. *These facts are from many years of research on my behalf and there are variations, I’m sure, but this is the version we have come to love.

For Monday- A Very Pretty Christmas Center Piece!


  1. HoneyB
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 7:42 AM | Permalink

    he he. I love how you refer to the vendor as a Roman God.

    I think barley is also a drink? I may be showing my stupidity here…

  2. EAT!
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

    Don’t be surprised if I show up in your suitcase on your next trip!!

  3. Sheila
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    I have never heard of or had Burrata before, but it looks delicious with the tomatoes.

    I saw the picture of the guy at Fresh Cheese Shop, but what about the Italian God? Where’s his pic?

  4. Linda
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    I am conjuring up the wonderful aromas from the Salumaria. We have one in our town but it is nowhere close to the North End of Boston or NYC Little Italy.
    This was lovely and makes me want to take another trip today!!!

  5. Lisa
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    I love the north end. I think I have been to Mike’s before.

  6. biz319
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    All of your food finds look amazing!

    Happy Friday!

  7. sarah w.
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 10:22 AM | Permalink

    You can usually get tomato paste in a tube at Whole Foods. It’s not *too* expensive (relative to WF, I suppose), but it lasts so much longer and is much more convenient than the little cans.

  8. Debbie
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

    Just found your blog…because of Honey B. Wow! I love it. I’ll be back. I’m off to make pumpkin rolls for the church bazaar tomorrow. LOL
    I also love your version of St. Nicholas. It’s great

  9. Dawn
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

    I love all the Roman gods in the north end. I always drool when I’m there and completely forgot all my Italian when I start talking to them.

  10. Sara
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 1:52 PM | Permalink

    I love burrata too, but have two issues – 1. it’s hard to come by, and 2. when you do find it, it’s expensive, and how do you know that it’s really fresh?

    I’ve had good luck with Gioia brand burrata, which I think is made in Los Angeles. I recently saw Bel Gioso burrata at Costco of all places, I may give it a try.

  11. Joie de vivre
    Posted December 5, 2008 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    I love your ICU stories girl! This one is funny in a slightly morbid way! We used to put our shoes out on St. Nicolas day when I was little. I hadn’t thought about that in years!

  12. Proud Italian Cook
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    What a fantastic post!!!! I enjoyed every bit of it, and sooo wishing I could visit Boston’s North End, like RIGHT NOW! I’m so glad you got to taste the real deal! My Whole Foods is getting it in for Xmas, I already checked, this week some time! I love that sweet little package don’t you?
    My hubbys looking over my shoulder and saying Mmmmmm!

  13. Shannalee || Food Loves Writing
    Posted December 6, 2008 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

    Ah! There you go again with the Boston experiences, making me feel all nostalgic and jealous. Oh, I need to move.

    P.S.—Those pastries! OH MY GOSH.

  14. That Girl
    Posted December 8, 2008 at 7:22 PM | Permalink

    I’m so glad you FINALLY found real burrata! But now I’m on the search for Burrini!

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