Boston Recap Day 2: Little Italy and my first lobster roll

Saturday was supposed to start with an awesome workout courtesy of Flywheel. There was a studio right by our hotel and your first class is free so I was super pumped to try it out (especially because the place we were staying didn’t have a fitness center).

Long story short, our alarm went off bright at early at 7am and I immediately hit snooze.

Is it me or is 7am on a vacation just too early?

Regardless, we slept for another hour and started our day around 9. We went to Render again for breakfast because in the three days I was in Boston I developed quite the obsession for latte art, so nothing exciting to share there. My latte, quiche and I were once again very happy.

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The majority of Saturday was spent in Boston’s Little Italy neighborhood. I know I haven’t been to New York yet so I’m sure this isn’t a shock to most people but I honestly didn’t realize that these ethnic neighborhoods were so cliché! There were big bulky men on the street talking about their mothers, the smell of pizza flew through the air, and everything seemed to be owned and employed solely by big Italian families.

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The best part about this area in Boston is that it isn’t just restaurants and bakeries. In the vicinity was also Paul Revere’s house and Old North Church.

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Paul Revere’s house was so cool! It was a very casual self-led tour (something I loved about Boston) where we simply got to walk through the home he shared with his second wife and kids for many years, all furnished as if the family was still living there. It’s hard to explain but it was so different and yet it felt strangely the same as any old millennial family home, just less evolved of course. The biggest difference is that all the kids had to share the third floor, which although we didn’t get to see sounded like one giant room. That kind of cramping would not fly with me. PS did you know they slept sitting up?!

We made our way from the house to Old North Church using the cobblestone side streets that give Boston its charm. The Church was beautiful and it was really cool to think that Paul Revere looked at that exact place where I was standing to see if the British were coming by land or by sea. That was a general theme to the weekend—I felt like I was part of a living history.

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One thing that I didn’t know about churches back in the day is that the pews weren’t the way they are set up now. In fact, the church was broken up into, well, cubicles. Each family purchased their own section to sit in and hear the word of God—those who couldn’t afford a section on the floor watched from above.

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One of the highlights of the trip was stumbling upon Mike’s Pastry. Zain and I turned a corner and there it was—it’s bright yellow sign towering over the humble little street. I hadn’t planned on stopping there actually (Flour was my bakery must-do) but I remembered reading about it somewhere so we figured it was fate and we should go inside to see what all the fuss is about.

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Whoa.

My mom has brought home Italian cookies and pastries before, but to be honest they’re just not my thing. The cookies are weirdly dry and I’ve never liked canolis. This place, however, knocked my socks off.  Zain had a strawberry cannoli, which he loved. I tried the cream inside and it was perfect—it was so natural and homemade even though it’s bright pink color screamed “processed”. I, on the other hand, went small and tried a pistachio macaroon just for the heck of it. GUYS. I found my favorite cookie. It was so moist and dense and chewy and pistachio-y and coconut-y and light and fluffy and….I could go on and on. I loved it so much in fact that I made us go back a few hours later for another one.

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Our original plan was to get lobster rolls of lunch in a whole other part of town but we were having so much fun in Little Italy that we decided to keep roaming for the afternoon and just snack all day on the cool things we discovered.

Pretty soon the smell of pizza in the air overtook us so a quick Yelp search took us to Galleria Umberto for some Sicilian-style pizza by the slice. It took close to 15 minutes for us to get through the line and to the cafeteria-style counter so we knew we were in the right place.

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Pizza is pizza so there’s not much to say here. Zain is a plain jane and only really enjoys cheese pizza so we got three squares to share (I kicked mine up with red pepper flakes). Much like the cookies this pizza tasted incredibly fresh—you could see people in the back kitchen cooking away, like they do every day from sunrise to sunset. It was a cool thing to see, so many family-run places running on nothing but tradition, hard work, and loyal customers.

At this point it was snowing hard outside so we decided to go to Quincy Market again and look around the gift shop there (we got 50% off with our “Go-Boston” card). I got a cup of coffee from Starbucks and we walked around the shops and kiosks that make up the busy hall. The entire trip all I really wanted was a full-length documentary about the Revolutionary War—but as most things go, when you don’t want something and it’s temping you, it’s everywhere, but when you actually want something, you can’t find it. This happens to other people, right? I thought for sure we’d find some type of film—blame it on bad luck, blame it on not being tourist season, but we couldn’t find one anywhere. And while I was tempted to buy anything lobster-themed, I was good to my wallet and decided that my only souvenir would be my pictures and memories. We almost did buy Zain some colonial-inspired gear, though, just cuz he looked so darn cute in it.

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Afterwards we made our way to visit the Old South Meeting House downtown.

This place was so involved in our nation’s history! It was built in 1729 and was a general meeting house for the citizens of Boston. In fact, it was the organizing point for the Boston Tea Party! It was so cool to imagine people in there putting on their disguises and then walking down the same street we had just walked down to the Boston Harbor to dump the tea. Like I said, living history!

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Zain was itching to go to the MIT Museum of Technology so we made a stop over there in the late afternoon as well. He was enthralled by the technology and hands-on exhibits, all of which were pretty cool (how are people SO smart??) I learned a lot thanks to a few interactive videos they had of MIT students explaining things with basic language for us less-than-genius folks.  For one thing, I learned how the internet works!  Haha not really but they explained how browsers, routers, and the global transfer of information work. Did you know that information is sent to other computers internationally through some kind of wires on the ocean floor? I was so floored! What’s all this “cloud” business about then?! I definitely butchered that whole explanation haha but it was so mind-boggling!

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Thanks to the cold and snow we decided to rest up at the hotel for about an hour before dinner. After some more Yelp-searching I picked a well-known hole-in-the-wall restaurant for dinner: Neptune. Ironically enough it was just outside the Little Italy neighborhood so before we knew it we were back in the area. (It’s worth mentioning that the city’s subway, or “T”, is incredibly fast and efficient—these little journeys took almost no time at all).

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We arrived at Neptune knowing that the wait would be insane. And just as expected, we opened the tiny door to the tiny restaurant and were greeted by a host who let us know the wait would be 2 hours and 45 minutes. I have to say I think that wins the record for the longest I’ve waited for food. However, I know from past experience that these obscure places are oftentimes the best, so I assured Zain it would be worth the wait. Like I said, this place was small. The host recommended that we find a bar or café and wait there, and he would call us ten minutes before a table opened up. Cool system, right?

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We ended up hanging out at a coffee shop a few streets down, just talking for close to three hours. Time flew by like it always does when you’re with people you love just talking about life.

Around 9:30 my phone finally rang and we headed over to Neptune for dinner.

We ended up sitting at the bar, where we were greeted by yet another friendly bartender. He immediately asked us which types of oysters we wanted. Uhhhh I immediately declined. Oysters aren’t my thing. I’m a fishy girl and I could dive into a pot of mussels, but oysters? Nope. Just like Joey on Friends, they’re big old boogers to me.

Zain ordered the burger and I finally got my lobster roll 🙂

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I have to be honest with you—I really thought I was going to love it. Butter, lobster meat, bread…what could go wrong? But I didn’t. It was pretty good.  Maybe I wasn’t hungry enough for it? (We grabbed a few snacks while we were waiting at the café). I was surprised because I loved the cold lobster that was on my salad the night before. I guess I’m just a cold lobster roll girl. I never would have guessed.

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Between eating our way through Little Italy, snacking as we waited for an open table, and the ginormous lobster roll, I rode the T back to the hotel feeling like I was going to explode. I don’t often let myself get to that feeling anymore, and now I remember why. Being that stuffed is no fun. Overall it was just another food-filled day in Bean Town!

I was planning on doing a Day 3 recap, but to be honest most of it was spent at Logan Airport. We woke up and went to Render (surprise, surprise), but soon after that we headed to the airport so Zain would be able to watch the Patriots/Broncos playoff game. After a slight delay we were headed back home to Chicago. The weekend flew by but it was such a great vacation full of beautiful snow, delicious food, and moving historical sites. I loved it!

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10 comments

  1. I am so glad you ended up getting the lobster roll – the best part of boston. I really do miss having seafood all the time there. especially lobster. Also mike’s pastry was a good call – what boston is known for!

  2. You made it to Mike’s!! And the line wasn’t out the door and to the corner. Mike’s was my Render when we were in Boston. The MIT Museum of Technology looks cool. We were wondering what to do with our return to Boston, having already done all the historical stuff. My geeky husbands going to love that museum 🙂 Thanks for the tip. Loved the recap!

  3. Ummmmm ok, I am totally loving how much of a fellow history buff you are!

    I have GOT to get my booty to Boston! Between the food and the history, it is pretty much made for me!
    Haha Zain should totally make that hat his new thing!

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