When I was a kid, 40 plus years ago, my grandfather would take me to Regina’s Pizzeria in Boston’s North End neighborhood on Saturday afternoons. It’s been in the same location since 1926, and I think it probably looks pretty much the same as it looked in 1926. We went there fairly often, so this is a favorite spot of mine, I suppose partly since it is a reminder of my childhood. We live about an hour away now, so we don’t get a chance to go here very often. Yesterday was the first beautiful Spring day, so we took a trip down to my old hometown, about 40 miles south of where we are in New Hampshire, for a day of exploring with Mr. C.
In a former life, I worked in an office building in this neighborhood, and a few years later I worked in neighboring Charlestown. On nice Spring days like this, the tourists were easily spotted. Standing on street corners with a map in hand, suddenly lost in the narrow streets of one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. I would sometimes ask some of them if they needed help. More often than not they were looking for some well known place. Were they looking for the Paul Revere house, or the famous Paul Revere statue, the Old North Church, the USS Constitution, the Bunker Hill Monument ? All of which are in the North End or Charlestown. No, those monuments were always clearly marked on the tourist maps. Most Revolutionary War era monuments like these are easily found on the Freedom Trail, which is a thin red stripe marked on the pavement through Boston. No, they were looking for a good place to eat and would ask me where some of the famous Boston restaurants were, like the Warren Tavern, Durgin Park, Union Oyster House, or one of the many well known old places in the North End, like this old pizza place. I suppose I could be wrong about those tourists, they may have just been looking for restaurants since I was usually out of the office only around lunchtime!
Yesterday we arrived early, just as they opened at 11:00am. Later in the day there is usually a line of people waiting to get in. Here’s the interior. The walls are covered with pictures of old Boston, shots of the restaurant staff from years ago, as well as a few photos of celebrities who have dined there. Unfortunately, we had to eat with Leonardo DiCaprio glaring down from us on the wall!
Maybe the only major change is the addition of the TV on the wall. Yesterday it was playing a horse race. Seeing the horse race was another reminder of going here with my grandfather sine he would sometimes take me to the track once we were done with the pizza. ‘Now don’t tell your mother we went to the track’, he would say.
The booths are very narrow, high backed wooden benches. I suppose people in 1926 were quite a bit thinner than they are now! I think these are the same tables I remember from when I was a kid too.
Here’s the pizza. Sausage and mushroom. Does our 4 year old eat pizza crust ? He actually eats everything, so there was nothing left of the pizza when we left. Looks like the love of food is a family trait!
From there we went on to Polcari’s Coffee. Another Boston institution, founded in 1932. I don’t have an exterior shot of this one, just an interior shot of the wall of coffee bins, with the bins of various flours and nuts below. I got a pound of their Italian Roast coffee. My grandfather would get coffee here as well.
From there we went to Mike’s Pastry. Another institution! There is a rival pastry shop down the street, Modern Pastry, which has a great old neon sign that I now wish I had a picture of! Mr. C had a gelato at Mike’s, and I bought a pound of almond biscotti cookies. Yes, it’s all about the food with me !
OK, so here’s some actual monuments in the area.
Paul Revere statue:
Old North Church, which is where Revere set out his lanterns to raise the alarm during the American Revolution.
Bunker Hill Monument in nearby Charlestown. Commemorating the battle of Bunker Hill.
All of these historic places are worthwhile to visit, and I’m sure we’ll take Mr. C to them when he’s a little older, though I think I’ll always like the old places listed at the start of this post a bit more than the famous historic sites in the area. Could be just the food, or it could be that my grandfather liked food as much as I do now.