Boston’s historically rich North End is one of my favorite areas in the city. Synonymous for its authentic cuisine that literally dances on your palate, the once predominantly Italian and Jewish neighborhood with a storied past is, today, home to stylish boutiques, darling confectionary shops, a swank wine emporium and so much more.
If you haven’t experienced the shopping, savoring and sipping that is the North End, then you truly haven’t devoured Boston properly and you’ll certainly want to join me this Friday, December 4 as I kickoff the North End Holiday Stroll. In its ninth consecutive year, the celebrated event invites you to stroll through the spiraling streets and brick walkways of this enchanting Boston neighborhood and support participating merchants including Ensemble, Shake the Tree, Cocoanuts, LIT Boutique, The Wine Bottega and many more.
If you haven't begun your holiday shopping, forget the crowded malls and shop small. Merchants will extend their hours, offer special promotions and host generous giveaways in an effort to entice consumers. And don’t forget to snap a picture with Santa Claus, he'll be at the corner of Hanover and Cross Street, and share it on social media by tagging #NorthEndHolidayStroll.
Last week, I had the pleasure of working with three North End businesses. I met the shop owners, learned about their distinct merchandise and plucked a few things that caught my eye. Here’s a peek at some of my favorites...
Ensemble // 62 Salem Street
Wendy Lepore is a gem (you just have to meet her) and her Salem Street shop is truly an ensemble of everything your heart desires – think on-trend clothing, unique accessories and rare finds for your home. This seasoned business owner, who ran a much larger operation in a Boston suburb for 17 years, opened Ensemble five years ago and adores life in this close-knit community.
I chose a plush multi-color faux fur vest handmade in Seattle. It’s so incredibly soft and luscious. One touch and you’ll definitely want one in your wardrobe this season. The vest pairs perfectly with leather leggings and a fitted turtleneck (as I have shown) or slip it over a sheath dress in a deep hue like hunter green or eggplant. Lepore carries the vest exclusively in Boston, so consider this piece a rare find in New England. I was completely obsessed with my arm candy. The beaded bracelet with tassel charm is handmade from Bourbon and Bowties, and the crystal fox with leather band and expandable bangle both hail from a jewelry house in New York. Lastly, when I spotted the gold filigree earrings fresh from Italy, I knew I had to have them - without a doubt the perfect statement earrings.
For an eclectic selection of contemporary clothing, leather handbags, ribbon-wrapped soaps, and even beloved baby items, you must visit Shake the Tree. Marian Klausner’s intimate and brightly-lit boutique is where you’ll find racks of modern designers including the likes of Ella Moss, Splendid, Sanctuary and Velvet. This is also a hidden gem for jewelry designed by local artisans and New England-made housewares. I was given a sleek wallet-style bag with a chain strap that's perfect for strolling and shopping.
Cocoanuts is a North End playground for your sweet tooth. Since opening her doors in 2012, proprietor and local resident Tara Shea has welcomed visitors with airy shelves of savory sweets and beautifully curated gift baskets. She also carries an assortment of roasted nuts and chocolate truffles as far as the eye can see. And, don’t pass up an ultra-fresh macaroon from Somerville-based Northlight Baking Co. or a caramel sampling from McCrea’s Candies in Boston (try the black lava and sea salt!).
I look forward to seeing you this Friday, December 4 beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the streets of the North End. This is a free event, but attendees may RSVP here.
This post was sponsored by the North End Holiday Stroll, Ensemble, Shake the Tree and Cocoanuts. A special thank you goes out to these small businesses, Lindsay Ahern and lifestyle event designer and producer Amy Fischer.