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Boston's North End Food Tour

The neighborhood is so densely packed with authentic Italian eateries (there are more than 85 lining just a few blocks) that it's nearly impossible to suggest only one. Instead, we recommend embarking on an evening-long "course crawl" to enjoy a variety of the North End's flavors while severely challenging your stomach capacity.

In summer, start with a drink at Ristorante Fiore (250 Hanover St. 617/371–1176), which has one of the city's best roof decks and a similarly impressive wine list heavy on the Tuscan varietals. Then swing by Neptune Oyster (63 Salem St. 617/742–3474) for a batch of its namesake crispy oysters served with pistachio aioli as a starter, before crossing the street to Terramia (98 Salem St. 617/523–3112), where the huge sea-scallop ravioli comes dressed in a lobster mascarpone cream and the gnocchi is accented by white truffle oil.

True Italians make room for secondi, or a second, meat-based course. You can't go wrong with Prezza's (24 Fleet St. 617/227–1577) wood-grilled veal porterhouse with saffron lobster risotto, or the seared salmon fillet at the broom closet–sized Pomodoro (319 Hanover St. 617/367–4348).

Before you can succumb to a carbohydrate-stuffed stupor, you need dessert—but most North End restaurants don't serve it. That's because everyone buys cannolis at local bakeries instead. Stop by Modern Pastry (257 Hanover St. 617/523–3783) and Mike's Pastry (300 Hanover St. 617/742–3050), the two main North End dessert shops, to conduct your own cannoli taste test. Located across Hanover Street from each other, both shops have around-the-clock lines snaking out the door. Modern's cannoli are smaller, more delicate, and flakier than Mike's counterparts, but as for the preference, it's up to you. If you're ricotta-averse, the two bakeries also serve lots of other treats, from gelato to biscotti and marzipan.

Updated: 2014-04-16

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