It Took 82 Years, But Polcari’s Coffee Now Takes Credit Cards

Standard
Bobby & Nicky

From left, Bobby and Nicky with Polcari’s Coffee new credit card machine.

I’m at Polcari’s Coffee picking up a pound of dark Italian roast and some ground cinnamon when a strange, rectangular box catches my eye on the counter. There’s a keypad and spool of white paper–can it be? There’s no denying that nestled between the old cash register and the original scale still in use since the shop opened in 1932 there sits a credit card machine.

Nicky confirms that Polcari’s Coffee now accepts credit and debit cards. “We were turning away business,” he says. “I’ve only been asking Bobby to do this for the last decade.”

Welcome to the 21st century. I still paid my $12 bill in cash.

Italians Don’t Do Easter Baskets

Image

…they do chocolate eggs!

Have you been wandering around the North End wondering about the pretty, colorful, patterned, oval packages that seem to be hanging from the ceiling EVERYWHERE? Well, that makes two of us.

Nicki at Polcari’s Coffee tells me that on Easter, it’s traditional in Italian culture for parents to give their children large, hollow, chocolate eggs wrapped in pretty paper. Often, but not always, there are small toys or prizes inside the eggs. Note that the Easter Bunny does not make an appearance with an Easter basket.

Here is a short round up of shops selling the chocolate treats in my favorite neighborhood.

For Better Bread, Visit Bricco Panetteria

Gallery

My love for Bricco Panetteria (241 Hanover Street) results in a weekly pilgrimage to the hidden shop. Located in a little alley just off Hanover Street, it’s easy to miss. The bakery is an extension of Bricco Ristorante and sells bread to many North End restaurants. Use the restaurant as your landmark and you won’t get lost.

Check out this great write up by Boston Magazine which crowned Bricco as “Best Bread Bakery” in their 2013 Best of Boston awards. I couldn’t agree more.

Earl Grey at Polcari’s Coffee

Standard
Image of Outside Polcari's Coffee in the Sunshine

Located at the corner of Salem Street and Parmenter Street in Boston’s North End.

Yesterday, I finished my box of Twinings Earl Grey so this morning I went to visit Polcari’s Coffee to pick up some more.

Run by the Polcari family since 1932, Polcari’s Coffee is a North End institution. Originally selling just coffee, they expanded to dry goods and specialty items upon customer request. In fact, everything they sell, a customer at one time asked for. Dry goods are measured in to plastic bags, weighed, tied, and labeled for you to take home. If you’re buying a new spice, don’t worry, they sell spice jars and cannisters too.

Image of jars holding tea and coffee

Jars upon jars of loose leaf tea and coffee. That old school scale (middle left) is actually the scale they use to this day.

The store proudly has a Boston Bruins flag hanging behind the counter and someone from the Polcari family is always working at the store. During the week, expect to see Nicki (short for Nicholas) but on the weekends expect to see family from his father’s generation. Last year, I was running late from work and needed to stop by Polcari’s Coffee to pick up flour and vanilla for a birthday cake. I called the shop and Nicki kept the store open an extra 15 minutes so that I could get my ingredients. You just don’t get that kind of service anywhere!

Image

Spices for sale in any weight you can imagine. Check out that massive jar of rainbow sprinkles! (lower right corner)

This is a great place to go if you’re a tea drinker like me but also for coffee which can be ground for drip or french press. You will also find a plethora of spices, flour & yeast, legumes, assorted nuts, olive oil, cheeses, and other Italian imported goods. Their tomato paste may be the best I’ve ever had and their prices are very reasonable. Compare $15 for jar of saffron at a chain grocery store to $7 at Polcari’s.

Even if you don’t need to buy anything, stopping in to Polcari’s Coffee for this old-world experience is worth it. Don’t forget to stop at an ATM, they are cash or check only.