Food & Wine: Wise Guides

May 1999


The guide

The daughter of a Polish butcher, Michele Topor says her life changed 28 years ago when she moved to the North End and got her first taste of good olive oil. She began taking classes with Marcella Hazan and Giuliano Bugialli, and today she’s a cooking teacher herself. She’s led her North End walking tours since 1987.

The tour

Along the narrow streets of Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood, little alleys lead to hidden Italian vendors. Some are venerable, like the liquor store V. Cirace and Sons (173 North St.; 617-227-3193), founded in 1906; some are newcomers, like the bakery Biscotti’s (95 Salem St.; 617-227-8365), where the pastry chef arrived from Salerno only this year.

Top shop

Boschetto (158 Salem St.; 617-523-9350), where the oven is 120 years old. “The crust of the bread will cut the roof of your mouth. I consider this high praise,” Topor says.

Must eat

A cannoli from Maria’s Pastry Shop (46 Cross St.; 617-523-1196). “It’s very simple: a crisp shell that gets filled with some very good ricotta and a little sugar when you order.”


Three-hour walking tours, offered twice daily on Wednesdays and Saturdays, are $35 per person: 617-523-6032.