Power Move: Modern Pastry Expansion

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Modern Pastry

In a recent power move, Modern Pastry took over the vacant, next door space once occupied by Piccolo Venezia. Last week, a screen print sign appeared to herald the expansion. This weekend, a brand new awning was installed. It stretches across both store fronts and proudly proclaims, “Established 1930.”

The expansion has pushed the bakery to more than double in size, which means more seating for patrons and twice as much kitchen. In fact, the new space is already open for business and now offers a brand new lunch menu. Don’t fear, you can still order their signature, spectacular cannolis too.

I can’t help but wonder, how does Mike’s Pastry feel about the Modern Pastry expansion?

 

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Italians Don’t Do Easter Baskets

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…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

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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.

How to Beat the Lines at Giacomo’s Ristorante

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Outside Giacomo’s in the South End.

Giacomo’s has a reputation for creative specials and reliably superb food at a very reasonable price point. The kicker is that the North End eatery always has a wait that often wraps around the block. In the rain, in the cold, on a Monday – you will wait. Make no mistake, your entire party must be present and no, you may not leave your phone number and come back later.

What if you could eat at Giacomo’s Ristorante without the wait? You can.

Giacomo’s Ristorante on Hanover Street in the North End has a sister location on Columbus Avenue in the South End. The menus are identical and in fact the South End location offers more variety. The specials are often different but  the Columbus Avenue eatery has three amenities you won’t find at the historic North End location:

  1. Reservations can be made via phone with a hostess.
  2. Coffee & dessert – think chocolate lava cake – mean no waiting in line at Mike’s or Modern.
  3. Valet parking is offered for $15.

Wherever you end up for dinner, remember that both Giacomo’s Ristorante locations are cash only so make sure to stop at an ATM.

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Jason ordered a special – pappardelle pasta in a sweet braised pulled pork sauce. We’re sharing a bottle of the house Montepulciano.

Earl Grey at Polcari’s Coffee

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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.

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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!

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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.