Worth the Trip

By: Thomas Brennan

Standing on Hanover Street as the clouds muddled around above, occasionally sprinkling a dash of rain, BriccoPanetteria was a little difficult to find. Turning down the alley from its parent restaurant, Bricco, I found the bakery I was searching for – and the breads and other fare were worth the trip. Walking through the brick-walled corridor that gradually opens to a spacious alcove with a pair of picnic tables and an open umbrella, I had arrived at the door to Bricco Panetteria. Making my way into the bakery felt like I’d suddenly been transported, crossing the Atlantic with the push of a door, right into Italy. There is something almost romantic and classical in the bakery’s setup. The air turned from dreary and wet to fresh and crisp as I stepped in, flowing and fluffy with the smell of flour and ground wheat.

Bricco Panetteria provides authentic food – undisputed in its origins – in a soothing Italian atmosphere. The bakery opened in 2014 under Frank DePasquale’s Bricco brand. “I wanted to emulate the Italian way,” DePasquale told Scene. “ I created the panetteria so that people can experience what it is like to buy bread in Italy. We offer the breads, prosciutto, parma, olives, and Italian baguettes. I am bringing the experience to the level of an Italian community, and I compliment this with having the same fresh breads in our restaurants and pasta shops. Everything starts with bread.” The Bakery is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

I am bringing the experience to the level of an Italian community, and I complement this with having the same fresh breads in our restaurants and pasta shops. Everything starts with bread.”

Frank DePasquale

Once inside the panetteria, I was greeted by an enormous display of fresh bread. The food setup was neat and open. There were crusted creations dusted with powdered sugar tucked next to rows of rolls filled with chocolate, vanilla, and other custards. Loaves of sourdough as large as a globe that were freshly out of the oven sat alongside baguettes that were as long as my arm.

The seemingly endless array did not overwhelm, but gave me a sense of ease, as I took in the whole line of food. The staff was welcoming, speaking in Italian, as they explained the selection from the other end of the glass display. The presentation was so beautiful, so perfect, that I worried that it might not be real. It felt almost criminal plucking these pieces from their snug placement, and the staff was ever patient and helpful as I nailed down my choice. I paid in cash and said “grazie” with the baker giving me a kind tip of his toque.

Leaving the bakery with my bag of bread left me feeling safe yet energized, almost brave in the face of walking out again under the grey sky. I felt so unburdened I let myself get lost in Boston, content to take my time. It was the first time in months I’d let that chronic anxiety from social distancing dissipate. The sourdough loaf I bought was still toasty by the time I got home. The crust cut open with ease, tasting firm and rich. Looking at its sheer size, I bet a single loaf could keep a person fed for several days. The rolls were buttery and soft as samite, the taste hugging my tongue as I ate.

The chocolate in the rolls was sweet and syrupy, masterfully interwoven with the bread. Each bite allowed a release of tension in my muscles. I didn’t even realize how strung up I was until I started eating, nor did I realize how a few pieces of bread could prompt so much unwind- ing. Going to Bricco Panetteria gave me more than a sense of relief, something about being there felt like shedding a yoke. It was more than a return to a sense of normalcy; it felt outright heartwarming in its homey atmosphere.The bread was delectable and perfect. I can’t think of anything more after my time there, except the next time I get the pleasure just at the thought of returning to Bricco Panetteria.

Photo credit by Rocco Capano

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