Follow your guide to some of the best Italian markets this side of Rome:
- Discover a pasticceria that offers the best biscotti, sfogliatelle, cannoli and other confections.
- Check out a neighborhood deli known for the best prosciutto; learn how to select the freshest olive oil and how to identify "real" balsamic vinegar. We'll discuss the different types of cheeses and tell you how to distinguish artisan pasta from the commercially produced varieties.
- Savor the scents of an 80-year-old coffee and spice shop while learning about Italian coffee culture and various old-world ingredients.
- Stop at a greengrocer to learn about select seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Tour an enoteca to learn how to select aperitivi to begin, wine to complement, and digestivi to conclude your meal.
- Relive memories of growing up in an Italian household.
During this European-style tour, you will not be eating your way through the neighborhood. Rather, our goal is to provide you with an understanding of the Mediterranean diet and methods of identifying and buying authentic Italian ingredients.
"It’s like visiting Italy…no passport required!" Your world and dinner will never be the same.
|Sort by:||Date Attended||Gender||Age||Where From||Group Type|
|srlaporte||Sat, Oct 18 2:00 PM||Female||50-59||Local||Group of Friends|
Our tour guide was exceptionally informative and the places we were shown were gems...we returned to several after the tour. This really got us off the beaten tourist path!
Fell in love with the North End
|bouchardboys||Sat, Oct 18 2:00 PM||Female||40-49||Local||Group of Friends|
Pleasantly surprised to find out how accessible and welcoming the North End was. It is our new place to bring out of town guests. The area had so much more to offer than we originally thought. Loved the boutiques- every street had something to offer. Loved the tour-Our only negative comment was the tour was a little too long- we were getting a little restless and ready to eat and drink! If we could have covered what we did in 2 -2/12 hours - it would have been perfect.
We had a fantastic time and learned so much!
|PeggyY||Fri, Oct 17 10:00 AM||Female||60-69||Local||Family Without Children|
My sister was visiting from New Mexico so I bought tickets for us to go on the tour. Rebecca was our tour guide and she was very nice and extremely knowledgable both in the history of the North End and Italian food. We went to a number of shops and sampled some delicious food and drink. I was very happy to learn where to go in the North End to purchase specialty foods. I would recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in the North End and Italian food. The weather was superb the day of our tour and we couldn't have had a better time!
La Dolce Vita - !!!
|LoriJoyal||Fri, Oct 17 10:00 AM||Female||40-49||Local||Family Without Children|
This was my second North End Food Tour - the first with Michele was 12-13 years ago, and this time her assistant Rebecca was our guide. I took my husband and parents, in celebration of my birthday, so that they too could enjoy the history of our Italian immigrants and also enjoy tasting and learning about authentic foods so important to our ancestors. Once again the experience was beyond wonderful. Every vendor was incredibly generous, both with letting us "squat" in their establishments while Rebecca painstakingly explained, with examples, every food item she described, and with the samples they gladly provided. EVERYTHING we tasted was amazing. The details Rebecca shared, from the history of the neighborhood to the culinary information, were outstanding. She answered all questions and was careful to be sure everyone was included in the conversation. Her style, like Michele's, is approachable and laid back. I cannot thank them enough for making my birthday celebration over the top by presenting me with a surprise Cassata Siciliana, courtesy of Maria's Pastry Shop (the BEST in the world by the way), halfway through the tour. I would absolutely recommend this tour to anyone of Italian descent or anyone with a sincere appreciation for good food and an interest in the Italian culture.
Take the time to do this if possible.
|Jellerton||Wed, Oct 15 10:00 AM||Unspecified||Under 20||Domestic Tourist(s)||Other|
This was such a fun tour. My son and I learned a lot and although he joked that he was the youngest one there (he's 32) he loved it. The tour was an interesting mix of history, culture and food. If we would have had the time, we would have tried to do the Chinatown tour also.
Viva Italiano Cuisine!
|Judithwass||Wed, Oct 15 10:00 AM||Female||70+||Combination||Group of Friends|
Susy, our tour guide, was one of the most knowledgable and user friendly persons we've had in our years of touring! She connected us to the area with her obvious love of sharing the ambience of the area. Each stop provided us with the history of the foods, the rudiments of the culture and the reasons for the endurance of the Italians in the North End. The tastes and smells increased our desire to learn more and to sample unique and savory ttreats to the taste buds… I will now look at and taste olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar with new respect Marie's bakery, with its traditions and enticing aromas captured our gustatory interest which was satisfied with the samplings offered. (Of course, we went back later to bring home for sharing, some of the delicacies.) My married children have taken this tour and they also raved about it. You can count us in as advocates for the North End Market Tour not only for the efficiency with which it was run but also for the friendliness of the merchants and Susy .
The Guide Makes The Tour
|sadkins||Sat, Oct 11 3:00 PM||Female||60-69||Domestic Tourist(s)||Family Without Children|
Michele does a superb job of guiding you through the streets of the North End. We are from CT and have spent many weekends in Boston. Michele is an excellent guide. Her tour is fun and very informative and very well planned. I have already recommended this tour to family and friends. In fact, I am looking forward to taking the tour again! Don't miss this tour if you are looking for a great way to spend a nice afternoon filled with history, nutritional information and wonderful tastings!
A Fun, Learning Experience!
|kbolieau||Sat, Oct 11 2:00 PM||Female||40-49||Domestic Tourist(s)||Group of Friends|
We all thoroughly enjoyed the tour and were very impressed with our tour guide, Beth. She was extremely knowledgeable about the history of Italian culture and the North End. It is a great way to learn about places that are off the beaten path. Highly Recommended!
Great tour guide, well worth the money!
|madigan18||Sat, Oct 11 1:00 PM||Female||20-29||Local||Group of Friends|
I felt like Al really made this tour! he was knowledgable and funny, but didn't turn the charm on too much. I would definitely recommend this to my friends and family, and I would specify that they ask for a tour with Al!
|cianna24||Sat, Oct 11 11:00 AM||Female||30-39||Local||Family Without Children|
We took my mother in law for her birthday and she loved it, said it brough back a lot of her memories from when she was a young girl with her parents.
- Do I have to purchase tickets in advance? Can I pay cash?
- Tickets must be purchased in advance, and tours often sell out quickly. To maximize your chances of getting the day and time you prefer, please book well in advance. Tickets can be purchased with a Visa, Mastercard or AmEx. Cash is not accepted.
- Do you require a minimum number of tickets for the tour to take place?
- Yes, we only run our tours with at least 4 people. Since this is a very popular tour, this is not usually an issue, but during the winter months it may happen a bit more frequently. If you would like to go on a tour that has not yet met the minimum, and you do not wish to purchase 4 tickets, you may place yourself on the wait list by clicking on the "place your group on the wait list" link on the purchase page. We will then contact you if the tour opens up so that you can purchase your tickets.
- If a tour is sold out can I get on a waiting list?
- We do not provide a waiting list. If a date is sold out, it is likely that we will add an additional tour. Please contact us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking “Contact MicheleTopor” to let us know what date you are interested in.
- Do you offer custom private group tours?
- We welcome custom group tours from 10-60 people on Monday, Tuesday or Thursday. Please e-mail us at email@example.com or click “Contact MicheleTopor” to the left of the page and let us know the details of your request. A North End Market Tour representative will contact you shortly.
- Does the tour include lunch?
- While we wil be tasting specific Italian food ingredients so that you have benchmark flavors, lunch will not be provided, so please plan to eat before or after the tour - think of it as an antipasto to whet your appetite.
- What if I have dietary restrictions?
- We will be tasting specific Italian food ingredients so that you have benchmark flavors. If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian, diabetic, kosher), you could just simply refrain from those particular tastings.
- Can I shop on the tour?
- We ask that you wait to shop until after the tour so that we can spend more time learning about the fabulous Italian food ingredients and enjoying the tastes we have arranged. Hopefully, you will allow yourselves some extra time at the end of the tour to return to your favorite stores.
- What is the maximum number of people on a tour?
- Since the shops are very small, we limit the regular tour to 13-14 depending on the day. Saturday tours before Christmas and Easter may be limited to 10 people.
- What if it rains or the weather is inclement?
- The tour is held rain or shine. If the weather is very inclement, e.g. heavy snow or hurricane, the tour may be cancelled. Refunds will be offered in the extremely rare event that the company cancels the tour, but in all other situations, no refunds will be provided.
- Who will be leading the tour? Can I register for a tour that Michele will be conducting?
- Most tours are led by Michele’s personally trained assistants (guides). Depending on availability, Michele might be leading a tour but there is no way of knowing beforehand. Rest assured that Michele's standards are very high - her assistants are terrific and each one brings their own special style.
- Are gratuities for the tour guide included in the ticket price?
- Gratuities (tips) for your guide are not included in the ticket price. If you enjoyed your tour, tipping your guide is acceptable, optional, and always appreciated.
- Where do the tours start?
- Upon registration you will receive a confirmation indicating where you are to meet the tour group.
- Where do the tours end?
- The tour route will depend on how busy the stores might be on a given day. The weekday and regularly scheduled Saturday tours will usually end at the corner of Richmond and North St. The 3pm Saturday afternoon tour and any other added tour will end at the corner of Fleet and Hanover St.
- I’m Italian American and have shopped in the North End for years – will the tour offer me anything new?
- We have had many local North Enders on tour and they have been amazed at their new food finds. And most important, they are able to relive memories of their childhood and learn how their food culture evolved.
- What if I don’t live in Boston, why would I want to take the tour?
- To learn about one of the most vibrant ethnic neighborhoods in this country. Since the tour is like a walking cooking class, you will learn about how Italians eat, the best ingredients and how to buy them, special cooking tips, and what a feast for the senses! Since most of the stores also sell online, you will learn about great sources for ingredients. Your world and dinner will never be the same.
- Is the morning tour different from the afternoon tour?
- Both tours offer the very same information and food tastings. If you plan on staying in the neighborhood to revisit many of the stores after the tour, you might want to do the morning tour, keeping mind that most of the stores generally close at 6pm. Otherwise, many tour participants just want to stay on after the tour to enjoy dinner at one of our many fabulous restaurants.
- I took the tour a couple of years ago. Has anything changed?
- The discussion of the most important ingredients remain the same. Some ingredients change according to the seasons, especially during Easter and Christmas, when the neighborhood is most festive. As we learn more, we do our best to improve upon and enhance the tour.
- Will there be any place to sit during the tour? Is it a fast paced tour?
- Only one store has limited seating. The tour involves standing and walking as we wind our way through the neighborhood, visiting about 6 stores. You should plan to be on your feet for the length of the tour, so wear your comfortable walking shoes. We do walk at a relatively quick pace. The neighborhood is a bit under 1/3 square mile and we walk up and down about 8-9 blocks.
- Can you accommodate people with disabilities? What about strollers?
- Some of the stores have a step up to enter and are not wheelchair accessible. Most of the stores are also very tiny. If you are able to leave the wheelchair outside of the store and enter with a cane, the tour can accommodate you. Strollers will also have to remain outside the store. There is no problem with their safety outside the door of the store.
- What about taking children on the tour?
- Since the tour is three hours long and most children have a limited attention span, the tour may not be appropriate for them. Parents, who know their children best, should assess the situation individually. When deciding whether the tour is appropriate for your child, please consider the tiny congested stores, the amount of standing in place while listening to the guide, and the other participants on tour. Children tend to get very fidgety and command the parents attention. The parents then miss most of the discussion and the whole group gets distracted.
- Do you visit restaurants on the tour?
- We don’t walk into restaurants but we provide you with a handout of our favorite restaurants and point out our favorites as we pass by. Remember, this is a very subjective commentary.
- Are the tours offered only in English?
- Yes, we only offer tours in English. If you would like to make arrangements for your own interpreter to join the tour, please contact North End Market Tours by clicking “Contact MicheleTopor” or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Are gift certificates available for the North End Market Tour?
- Yes, gift certificates are available for the North End Market Tour, and they make a perfect gift for holidays, birthdays or any other occasion! To purchase a gift certificate for the North End Market Tour please click on the "Gift certificates: Purchase" link in the box above.
- How is my gift certificate delivered? Can I print it out now and give it to the recipient myself?
- Yes, you can! When you purchase your gift certificate online, you will be presented immediately with your gift certificate so that you can print it out and deliver it. If you buy it over the phone, a link to your gift certificate will be emailed to you as soon as your purchase is completed.
- What if I want the gift certificate emailed to the recipient instead?
- That's no problem, either! When you purchase your gift certificate, just select the option to have the certificate emailed directly to the recipient and provide their email address. You'll even be able to decide whether you want the email sent immediately or if you'd prefer to schedule it to be emailed on a future date. (For instance, if you want to buy it today so you don't forget, but you don't want it emailed to the recipient until their special day!)
- Can we take photos during the tour?
- Still camera shots are welcomed and with the characters in the neighborhood, you could find yourself with some memorable photos. Video cameras are not allowed.
- Are bathrooms available during the tour?
- Except for emergencies, bathroom stops are not available during the tour. Prior to the tour, all coffee shops have bathrooms for customers.
- Do you offer discounts for travel agents?
- The standard travel agent discount is 10% for up to 4 people. This discount is valid for travel agents who will be attending the tour, and requires the agent to provide a business card at the start of the tour. To use this discount, please contact North End Market Tours by clicking “Contact MicheleTopor” and providing your travel agency’s name and contact information.
Michele Topor, Inc.
Since Michele is not available to conduct most of the tours, she has personally selected and trained her guides to convey not only the secrets of the cuisine in the high quality of ingredients but also the sense of regional tradition, the healthfulness of the Italian diet, and that very Italian love of life.