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Vanishing Boston

A field guide to Boston's 'lasting' treasures — to be enjoyed before they're razed in favor of chain stores

Modern Pastry

The real North End
Between assimilation, suburban flight, and the Big Dig — which tore down the Central Artery and reconnected the North End to the rest of the city — Boston's Italian-American epicenter didn't stand a chance. But while the Old North End is fading fast, little pockets of the past remain; you just need to know where to look. Here's one possibility: start between 4 and 8 Battery Street, where the exceedingly devout Peter Baldassari has created a stunning alleyway monument — christened "All Saints Way" — to populist Catholic fervor. Next, stroll south for a few blocks on Hanover Street and duck into Galleria Umberto, where the Spartan dûcor, preponderance of Italian-speaking retirees, and comically cheap fare ($1.25 for a slice, $1.50 for a Dixie cup of chilled red wine) function as a culinary time machine. Then go south on Hanover yet again and restore yourself with a cappuccino at Modern Pastry. Forget tourist magnet Mike's and a few new, deracinated competitors, this is still the best local spot for pastry and caffeine. Here's where it gets tricky: follow Parmenter past the public library, jog up to Cooper, and swing left on Endicott. Behold: that awning belongs to Fresh Cheese, owned by alleged New England Mafia underboss Carmen "The Cheeseman" DiNunzio, who's known for eagerly embracing his nickname (e.g., "I'm the Cheeseman"). Grab some fresh ricotta while you can — in a few years, this'll probably be a Gap.

— Adam Reilly

GALLERIA UMBERTO | 289 Hanover Street, Boston | 617.227.5709 | MODERN PASTRY | 257 Hanover Street, Boston | 617.523.3783 | FRESH CHEESE | 81 Endicott Street, Boston | 617.570.007

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