The Boston Phoenix
May 6 - 13, 1999

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J. Pace and Son

Ziti with a side of local color

by Liz Zack

Amid the hardhat chaos between the North End and Haymarket, the counterman at J. Pace and Son counts out change for a calzone. "Uno, due, tre. There you go. Have a great day, Sal. Say hi to your wife."

J. Pace and Son, a hybrid specialty store/sandwich shop open since 1966, is a neighborhood landmark. SAVE THE NORTH END stickers decorate the walls; a cat named Chinotto prowls the aisles of gnocchi and olive oil. Sandwiches are 12 inches long and made however you like, stuffed with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, and hots if you can stand them ($3.95 to $4.95). The prepared hot dishes vary slightly from day to day, but the best of the regulars are the eggplant parmesan ($3.95) and any of the zitis, especially the ziti with sausage ($4.95). As a woman ladled spoonful after heaping spoonful of homemade pasta into a dish (easily enough for two), she told us how she'd made the ziti for her family the night before. "My kids couldn't get enough," she said. "You try these today and then be sure to come back tomorrow and tell me what you think."

Several tables, these days usually filled with Big Dig construction workers, line the sun-splashed sidewalk outside, but locals linger around the solitary table inside the shop. "Which cousin are you?" began a conversation overheard recently. This is real Italian home cooking, and if you eat lunch here, you become part of the family. As I walked out the door, I heard someone call out behind me, "I'll see you tomorrow, right?"

J. Pace and Son, located at 42 Cross Street, in the North End, is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (617) 227-3874.

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