The North End, Boston’s old-school Italian hub, is home to popular restaurants, historical monuments, and an assortment of traditional Italian caffés. The Italian influence hardly ever falters, however, with pizza and pasta and pastries in abundance.
Scattered between the lines of tourists queuing for cannolis and gelato, these caffés are serving some of the best espresso in the city, and many of them have been for years. With espressos Italian origins, this comes as no surprise.
The North End welcomed Boston’s first Italian café in 1929, when Caffé Vittoria opened its doors on Hanover Street. The shop has changed very little in the nearly 90 years since opening, only expanding once to take over the space next door, which previously belonged to an Italian travel agency.
Sprawling across four levels, the original space has hardly changed. “The floors, and most things, are original,” said Armando Reyes, the current manager of the caffé. As with any good caffé in Italy, the space also includes three full liquor bars and classic pastries.
For coffee fans, Vittoria isn’t just a place to taste supreme espresso (though the imported Lavazza beans are some of the best), it’s also like stepping into a museum. Along the first floor, shelves are overflowing with a variety of espresso pots and brewers, and the walls are lined with memorabilia and photographs.