A Toothsome Tour of Beacon Hill: Panificio Bistro and Bakery
Part three in our series exploring three Beacon Hill cafes that specialize in sweetness.
Towards the end of Charles St., you'll find the café that's been there the longer than any of the others. Sixteen years may not seem like much, but for retail businesses in Boston's competitive market, it's like dog years.
Inspired by his post-collegiate tour of Europe, owner Chris Spagnuolo has created Panificio Bistro & Bakery, a place vaguely reminiscent of an English pub with its deep wood décor but with a menu that bears the mark of Italian and German influences.
The clientele is neighborhood-y but also draws from the nearby Massachusetts General Hospital.
"People come here to get their wives who just gave birth food and bring it back over there," chuckles Spagnuolo.
After surveying the display cases, we quickly tuck to the tiramisu ($4.50), an apple tart ($4.50) and some hot cider ($3.75), fresh from Russo's market in Watertown, to wash it down.
You'd think I'd be tired of apples by now after the endless cakes, pies and confections that usually accompany autumn, but one bite seemed to reset the entire season and was quite possibly the best pastry I had tried yet on Charles St. It had the absolute perfect level of softness in the crust and a zing in the apples. Had it not been for the raw sugar crystals sprinkled on top -- I wasn't a fan -- it would have been a perfect 10.
Such an act is hard to follow but the tiramisu was up to the task, albeit definitely heavy on the cream part. Still, the traditional interplay of rum and coffee flavors was satisfying. You might not be able to finish it but will wish you could.
Checking out the many awards on the wall -- Best Coffee Shop 2006, 2007; Best Brunch 2007 -- I know I'll be back for a second go maybe next time for brunch?