Yesterday, I mentioned a phone call from my friend Gabe who arrived in town seemingly at random. We met up for lunch and went to an alleged seafood place in Allston whose only seafood offerings were rubbery shrimp. When his other plans got delayed for a few hours, I decided we ought to head to the North End and cleanse our palates. I got a Strawberry cone and he got a Chocolate Hazelnut gelato.
Gigi Gelateria seems to have taken over Hanover Street. In addition to the main shop here in the middle of the block, there’s a side entrance on Parmenter Street that leads to the same shop. Both cases face the street beckoning to people to get a simple cup or a cone. Now there is also a location at the corner of Cross street welcoming people to the North End as well.
The gelateria is part of Frank De Pasquale’s food empire that rules the roost over here. He’s the guy that also owns Bricco, Trattoria Il Panino, Mare, Express, Umbrio, and News. Needless to say if this were anywhere but the North End, he’d have the market completely cornered. As it is he’s doing pretty well for himself. That’s why he brought Giovanni Gigliotta to be his Maestro de Gelati and keep this area cool.
There’s an inside shop for people that want to sit down and enjoy their gelato out of the rays of the sun, but it seemed like most people were forgoing the space that used to be an Italian market to walk the streets and enjoy the sun on this peculiarly nice August day. We walked down to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and sat at the edge of the grass. It was fun to try to explain how great this spot can be to someone who hadn’t ever been here when this was just an expanse of raised concrete. Even the fountains spraying plumes of water into the air were ideal for washing the drippings off of my hands.
After a sample of some combination of flavors with an Italian name I couldn’t recall, and being told that I couldn’t get the lemon in a cone because it was a sorbet, I chose the strawberry. The gelato didn’t seem as dense as it often can often be, but it was packed nicely into the cone. The strawberry seemed to be fighting for its identity which sort of threw the balance off here. Around the pieces of fruit themselves, the consistency was icy and lumpy like a sorbet can be and then the cream took over the other spots, ultimately rendering this more like a creamsicle than anything else.
Walking around the North End, things started to seem exceptionally odd. People were setting up folding chairs and even the meter maids were laughing with the people who had parked in front of the main doors to the fire station. Television trucks were set up at a few intersections and reporters were interviewing people gathered in the park around the Paul Revere statue. Since Patriot’s Day is in April, I first guessed that maybe Fox had just messed up their months that start with the letter A. The truth was that people were getting ready for the Ted Kennedy funeral motorcade. When we got in the car, the radio was full of traffic reports updating us where the cars were between Cape Cod and here. We made it out abot about the last moment we could as the cops began closing off the ends of the street.
Open year round