Welcome back to Food Crawls, a series in which Eater Boston staffers guide you (virtually) on various food crawls in the Boston area.
When we go out, we often find ourselves wanting to try more than one restaurant at a time — a drink and a snack here, another drink and perhaps a dessert there — and want to share our favorite multi-stop combinations with you. These crawls are meant to be relatively walkable, and the amount of food and drink is meant to correspond roughly to a couple of average appetites (so bring a friend), although your mileage may vary. Email us if there’s a particular theme, specific dish or drink, or neighborhood you’d like to see covered in a future installment.
Writing about dining in the North End is something of a fool’s errand. Every other storefront in the neighborhood is a restaurant, and they’re mostly making food that is good to very good. Proclaiming this restaurant is “the best restaurant for spaghetti Bolognese” or that restaurant is “the best restaurant for fresh pasta” is quixotic at best and probably actually birdbrained in the end. Hanover Street is a feast; Salem Street is a banquet.
An eater can hardly go wrong snacking in the North End — one could eat at a different restaurant each day for a month and still not scratch the surface. But we all have our haunts we return to time and time again — predictability is equally boring and comforting — and these are some solid bets for lunch. Bring a friend along for this crawl; the extra stomach will be necessary.
Stats for this food crawl:
- Total stops: 4
- Total mileage: About a quarter mile
- Days and times when all of these restaurants are simultaneously open: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday (Umberto is the limiting factor; you can hit the other three during a much wider timeframe)
- Total oysters slurped: At least half a dozen, y’all
- Slices of pizza eaten: Between 2 and 4 (or 6 if you’re a feckless glutton like myself)
- Amount of time spent waiting in line: So much time
- Italian flags seen: Depends on how many times one looks up as one walks through the neighborhood. Let’s say “at least 100” to be safe.
Oysters at Neptune Oyster
63 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113
Expect to wait in line. Outside. In the Boston winter. Once indoors, the temptation will be to order the lobster roll — good god, that lobster roll — but this is a marathon, not a sprint. Order half a dozen oysters, slurp them sumptuously, and wash them down with a glass of rosé. Didn’t I mention this is a drinking lunch?
Small Pepperoni and Mushroom Pizza at Pizzeria Regina
11 1/2 Thacher St, Boston, MA 02113
Pizzeria Regina is the North End. It’s been slinging ‘za at the intersection of Thacher and N. Margin streets for 91 years. Little about the space has changed in its near century of operation, including its brick oven — it was built in 1888 and has been used for cooking pizzas and pizzas alone since 1926. Get a small pepperoni and mushroom (one eater could polish this off alone, but there’s still more food — including more pizza — to eat on this crawl), and get a pitcher of Peroni. It’s December in Boston, and the Peroni buzz will provide some much-needed warmth.
Calamari at The Daily Catch
323 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
Disclaimer: There’s likely going to be a wait at the Daily Catch, too. Wear a parka and a scarf and suck it up, because the calamari that awaits inside is worth sitting in the biting cold for.
A Square Slice and Arancini at Galleria Umberto
289 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113
Sorry, more queueing. But at least the line at Galleria Umberto is (most often) confined to the restaurant’s interior. It might actually be smart to hit this spot first: The arancini sells out quickly, and the pizza doesn’t last much longer. It’s open from 10:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day but Sunday, when it’s closed, but don’t expect the arancini to be available much past 1 p.m.
The square slice is a treasure, but it’s the arancini — a deep fried rice ball filled with ground beef and peas and gooey cheese — that you’re really after at Umberto. On second thought, definitely go here first.