Cannoli-Eating, Patois-Speaking, North End Good and Evil
Sunday was sunny, so I went for a walk around the adjacent neighborhood–the North End. I was on a pilgrimage ( of sorts) to the Church of Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, which incidentally, I had visited before, but had not gone into for reasons that I don’t recall. Anyway, there I was, standing off of Hanover Street in a plaster-fawn encrusted courtyard. The church was very ornate inside, and pretty in a wabi-sabi way, with murals and statues and candles that are run on batteries. It was very quiet.
Back out on the street, passing cannoli-eating, patois-speaking, masses on the sidewalks, I made my way past three favorite eateries: Neptune Oyster, L’Osteria, and Monica’s looking for this cafe I really like, which has wide windows that open to the street and a ceiling covered in football (euro, not american) flags. It’s called, Cafe Paradiso. I guess tourists like it but so do I.
By then I was getting a little hungry, so I stopped into a Gigi Gelateria. What a tourist trap. I say SKIP IT, mostly due to their extremely rude staff. After being ignored for a good five minutes, I asked if, having never been there before, I could taste a flavor. I tasted the chocolate hazelnut ( not great, not very flavorful). Could I try the mint chip? No! Only one taste per customer, he said. Excuse me? I said. Only ONE taste per customer, he said. What, did he think I was just trying my darndest to get as much free gelato as possible and that an effective way to do it was by the quarter-teaspoonful? So, not wanting to get stuck with a six-dollar cup of something that was as equally gross as the one flavor I tasted, I left without buying anything. Good sales tactic, guy–way to reel in the new customers!
So then I moved on to the tourist trap next door, Vittorio, which I love because they have excellent cappucino and I take everyone there who comes to town to visit me. However, on my latest visit, I got an annoying waitress. I understand that you only get paid $2, waitress, i have been there. But believe me that is more than I am getting paid now. So, just let me enjoy my Cappuccino in peace, ‘k? After delivering the check, she told me that she was closing out, could I please pay now? I was in the act of getting out my wallet, so I am not sure what she thought I was doing instead…so as I am taking the money out, I lay it on the table, and was just fishing for the tip when she came up and grabbed the check and the cash I had already laid out, and walked away. All of you out there who are waitstaff–rule of thumb is, let the customer put down ALL their money first, THEN take the bill away. Poor girl thought I probably stiffed her on the tip. Well, after my negative gelato experience, I wasn’t about to run after her with my two dollars.
So that is the North End for you. Full of pushy people and overrun by tourists and the shopclerks who hate them. But if you are willing to be brave, and maybe stop and say a little prayer, it can be worth it for the day out. (Especially if Ben Affleck is there shooting his newest movie….)