I realized I was going to have another chance to go out when I boned my first Live Off Groupon (link) blog post, but I was leaving NYC, so I had to make it happen in Boston. When I called Tina from Carrots ‘N Cake (link) to join me, she was going to NYC, so we’d be putting off our meeting to another time. I shot out a “Free Food in Boston” tweet, and Rachel (twitter) must have thought it sounded like a good idea because she met me a few hours later for lunch.
Rachel writes for a few magazines and is an intrepid blogger on her own, but she came from a science writing background, so maybe recipe blogging is in her future. I found out she went to school in Rochester and we shared a few Western New York war stories before walking inside.
CaffÃ© Graffiti just moved from their spot across the street from just about the most popular store in the North End, Mike’s Pastry (link). The owner, Luigi “Big Lou” DeMarco (no, he is not a small man), said he’d have stayed where he was if the rent hadn’t jumped so dramatically, but for some reason, I don’t think he’s so sad about his new space. A huge outdoor patio abutting the Greenway should bring great crowds this summer.
I went to check in on FourSquare and the venue hadn’t been created, so I created it – I guess Boston hasn’t figured out FourSquare yet. I also found out that they just started a twitter account (link), and it’s 100% Big Lou, so it’s a bit rough around the edges. You gotta cut him a little slack though, this ain’t easy to pick up right away and he’s trying. It’s always good to have more authentic voices out there.
The Caesar set quite a nice tone for the rest of the meal – not too much dressing, pan seared and crispy chicken breast, and a cupful of freshly shredded parmesan on the side let us know that we were going to be taken care of. The one thing I would have liked added here was an option right away for freshly ground pepper tableside. I’m a huge cracked-pepper fan and usually make my waiter pull that trigger ’til it goes click. I’d bet dinner service has cracked pepper standard.
And you know I took the first opportunity I had to get the de facto food blogger shot of Rachel and her DSLR (pic).
|Sulmona Sausage and Red Pepper Pizza
I don’t really like that word … Sulmona. Maybe I’m not supposed to pronounce the l, like salmon. That’d make me feel much better. Salmona is the name of a deli in the North end (where they get their sausage) and a town in the Abruzzo region of Italy. Whether they’re special for producing world renown sausage or not is beyond me, but it passed muster. I wasn’t such a huge fan of the sweetness of the red peppers along with it. The cheese was pretty standard mozzarella, but for some reason, was uber-stringy (pic), which added to the novelty, if not the consistency.
One thing we both liked was the crust. If you know anything about the pizza upskirt (pic), you know that this one looks average, but I must tell you that the crust on this pie rivaled some of my faves in NYC. The rest of the pizza didn’t really live up to the excellence of the crust, but I think with a few tweaks, they could really have something special here.
|Cocoa Dusted Cappuccino
From my experience, they don’t do cocoa dusted coffee anywhere but Boston, but since I just became a coffee drinker, my cappuccino knowledge is limited.
Every place I’ve gone for a cappuccino in the North End has served it this way. I vote to keep it the way it is. I haven’t gone to the Little Italy in the Bronx, but I can tell you, the North End has a much more vibrant Italian community feel than that of Manhattan. More soccer, more old guys on chairs, more coffee drinking outside, more restaurant signs still there from the 1960s and 70s. I’ve heard the one in the Bronx is a serious step up, and I’ve got a date to go there in March, so I’ll be reporting back on this soon.
|Chocolate Covered Cannoli
My mantra – always order dessert. If you’re just visiting Boston and you stumble into the North End, you’re not allowed to leave until you’ve had a cappucino and a cannoli. I issue my cannoli manifesto in the video below, so take heed, cannoli novices.
The ricotta in this one was spicy and sweet, a fine grainy consistency that just worked for me. Chocolate covering: mandatory.
Consider me a fan of the CaffÃ© Graffiti. I’m following Big Lou and I can’t wait until he figures out what this Twitter thing is all about.
Here’s our video:
For Groupon Admins only: I didn’t know Rachel before I tweeted “who wants free lunch today” and she responded. I paid, Rachel tipped (pic). And if you were curious, here’s the first crash, the stabbing, the turtle rescue, the lava, and the retreat.
64 Cross St.
Boston, MA 02113