Boston

Caffé Vittoria serves Italian delicacies in the North End

caffe-vittoria-establishing

Caffé Vittoria rests sandwiched in between shops and the North End’s hustle and bustle on Hanover Street.

The Original Italian Caffé” opened in 1929 and has been serving a variety of coffee drinks, special martinis and “pasticceria tradizionale” – traditional Italian pastries – for almost 100 years.

“The coffee is authentic because we try to be consistent,” said the cafe’s manager Armando Reyes who said he started working at the cafe 30 years ago as a busboy. “When someone comes back they will get the same [consistent cup of] coffee.”

On a rainy Sunday afternoon I found myself trying the cafe’s red velvet cheesecake—something different from my usual choice of cappuccino or “cioccolatto caldo” (hot chocolate) and cannoli go-to combination.

cheesecake-close-up     img_1916

A chocolate crust molded the cheesecake’s shape that contained layers of plain cheesecake with a red velvet cake center and cream top. The dessert was a little bit on the sweet side, but I liked it and a black cup of coffee would have complimented it nicely (I had already had a cup and a half so I refrained from more caffeine). The texture of the cheesecake was interesting and unlike that of any other I have tried due to the red velvet cake center.

I would recommend the cheesecake to a friend, but would also recommend just the hot chocolate as something more subtle for a first taste of what the cafe has to offer.

The most common dessert pairing is a “cappuccino and cannoli,” according to Reyes. The cafe offers more than a dozen Italian delicacies as well as gelato and three full-liquor bars over four floors of seating, according to the menu.

“I love everything on the menu,” Reyes said. “I used to be skinny when I started working, then I started trying everything.”

img_1906

The second page of the menu

Caffé Vittoria is located on 296 Hanover St. and is open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday from 7 to 12:30 a.m. It is handicap-accessible. The nearest T stops are: Haymarket (Green and Orange Lines), North Station (Green and Orange Lines) and Aquarium (Blue Line).

img_1903

All photos by me (Alejandro Serrano)

Hassle Fest 8 starts tomorrow

hassle-fest-5

Hassle Fest 8—the eighth installment of Brain Arts and Boston Hassle’s music and art showcase—will kick off Friday night at Brighton Music Hall with more than 30 scheduled acts over the two-day long fest.

Local Allston groovers Sadha will play the fest for the first time Saturday afternoon. Guitarist Jacob Schwartz said he is excited to be playing, being that he has grown a part of the Boston Hassle community ever since he volunteered tabling and doing sound for Boston Hassle shows a couple of years ago, before he went to college. Schwartz is a freshman studying musicology and music theory at Hampshire College.

“It just feels really nice [to get to play], we are all just a big family and I guess if you put in effort you get nice shit out of it,” he said. “Boston Hassle has put me in touch with a music scene that contains music and art that I care about. I have an incentive to play shows.”

The fest also includes an THRASH LAND—an art environment focused with a theme of recycled items displayed through the work of local artists.

Jilian Medford, singer of Ian Sweet, said that she is looking forward to playing an eclectic collection of songs during the band’s set Friday night.

“Really nice for us to be debuting songs from the new album to people who haven’t heard them live, we play a couple old ones, especially when we are in Boston,” she said. “I wanna dig up some olds […]  just for the sake of messing it up or seeing if it works out. I want it to be a fun set, for sure, it always is, but whenever we play this new record it can be emotional for me so it can be nice to play some of the older ones.”

Ian Sweet is originally is from Boston—Medford met the other bandmates when she moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music—but moved to Los Angeles for a couple of months.

“I am excited to be back in Boston and with all of our friends,” she said.

The Monsieurs have been rocking Boston and Allston for years now, but guitarist Hilken Mancini said she hasn’t lost appreciation for the local scene and events such as Hassle Fest. The Monsieurs will play this year’s installment of the two-day festival on Friday night.

“I am just glad that this continues to happen and I feel lucky to be a part of it as I get older, and as a woman,” she said. “There is so much going on and there is so much support  […] it is good to know that people still give a shit about rock and roll.”     

Tickets are $25 at the door. Music starts at 6 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. on Saturday. Tentative set times can be browsed here.

Photo Courtesy DigiBoston, Creative Commons

Gallery: Last day of Boston’s Street Pianos

Sixty pianos adorned the streets of Boston for two weeks until today as a part of the “Play Me, I’m Yours” global artwork project, presented by Celebrity Series of Boston.

“Boston is one of the coldest cities in the world, it is so segregated, but things like the street pianos bring people together,” said Eric Lepovetsky, of Mission Hill (Boston).

Lepovetsky sat by the piano in Brigham Circle, across the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority train stop, for hours and encouraged people to play the piano. He applauded whenever someone finished playing.

“It is so cool. One minute you can be talking to a student, the next a lawyer. This brings people out and together,” he said.

As people would walk by the Brigham Circle and MFA pianos, some would press a couple of keys and smile while others would sit down and play for several minutes.

“At first my mom really wanted me to play classical music. It was her dream through me,” said Anish, 17, of Walpole, Mass., after he played while his dad recorded a video of him from the side. “The love for current music made me want to keep playing piano. It’s just so appealing to me. The beautifulness of piano that it gives so many songs today is what keeps me playing.”

Today marked the last day of this year’s installment of the street pianos. The program was first launched in 2013, according to its website.

“I come here at least once a day just to play,” said Sergei Wright, of Mission Hill. “I love it. When I’m playing I’m in another world; I forget about everything that bothers me.”

 

Tipling Rock drops new single

Tipling Rock released new song “Campus Fashion” via Spotify overnight.

https://open.spotify.com/track/5IGgiEIe8lQYYTiljFo0vr

Singer Ben Andre opens the song with “Yeah this love could kill me, but all my love could make you smile” and an upbeat guitar rhythm with a subtle lead guitar heard dancing around.

The song keeps upbeat jams flowing for approximately two minutes before a brief pause that quickly finds its way back before the song ends a minute later. “Campus Fashion” is at the intersection of pop and indie rock – similar to Tipling Rock’s previous releases.

The four-piece Boston band self released their first EP “Punch Lines and Good Times” last year and most recently topped national and international Spotify charts last spring with “Low Tide Love.”

They played their first sold-out show, co-headlining with singer-songwriter Dylan Rockoff, last week at the Red Room in Cafe 939, according to the band’s Twitter.

Photo is a screenshot of the official video for “Low Tide Love.”

Black Market exhibits local creativity

Signs leading to the entrance on the side of Elks Lodge

Signs leading to the entrance on the side of Elks Lodge

Scores of people browsed hand-made crafts, used and new vinyl, and an assortment of clothing at Ignore Rock and Roll Heroes and Boston Hassle’s Black Market yesterday.

Vendors’ tables hugged each other from wall to wall with narrow aisles for people to gander, both in the lodge’s first floor and basement. Admission was $1 at the door and there was a cash bar (21+) and coffee table in the basement.

There were more than 65 vendors in this installment of the “art/record/flea/artisan” market, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The bimonthly market is held at Cambridge Elks Lodge—down the street from Central Square. There were people of all ages and crafts of all sorts; here are some that caught my eye:

Pun Pantry: A brand at the intersection of food and pop culture, connected through puns, had a table in the basement, right down the entrance. Several people walked by and would look a second time before chuckling at puns like “Taylor Swiss” or “The Grapefruit Dead.”

img_5896

Sean Patrick Watroba was selling his art in a variety from poster-sized prints to dollar coin-sized buttons. The “Harambe” button pictured below is one of a few amount, Watroba said. The button next to it is one of Watroba’s illustrations—it reads “I have nothing left to live for.” 

img_5905

Joseph Mauro of Providence, R.I. set up camp at a table next to the bar with a collection of music photography he has shot at concerts in the Rhode Island scene, he said.   

Here is part of my live-tweeting coverage from Sunday.

Music feeds to follow on Twitter

Twitter is a garden ripe with accounts to follow for all sorts of interests. Being that this blog is focused on Boston, independent and alternative music here are 10 accounts of the like that you should follow:

@Pitchfork is at the forefront of new alternative music releases and show announcements. They also Tweet out links to breaking music news several times a day. It is one of the accounts I make a point to check every time I check my Twitter feed.

Last winter my friend’s band made @AllstonPudding’s “Localz Only Early Winter Mixtape” so I checked it out and followed the blog on Twitter for similar content. It was a good decision. You will find all sorts of information related to local music by following.

@nprmusic is another vanguard at indie and alternative music releases. The links to all sorts of features from the “Tiny Desk” segment to different series on artists and topics is the best following perk.

@FrontRowBoston is a part of WGBH and literally puts viewers in the front row of Boston music through uploading recorded concerts. Their Twitter feed contains links to those recordings and to exclusive studio sessions, by all sorts of artists from the national spotlight to the local one.

@theRSL is music writer Ryan Spaulding’s account. Spaulding is the producer of The Outlaw Roadshow—a traveling music showcase that has a Boston show. I just started following Spaulding, but he tweets updates about his roadshow as well as interesting music commentary and general thoughts.

@ben_stas does freelance music photography and writing for the Boston Globe, Vanyaland and Invisible Oranges—often tweeting live from concerts. He is on top of the music scene at Boston and is at a show at least once a week, most weeks.

@brooklyn_vegan is one my New York go-to sources for music updates that I make a point to check on daily. I have found several up and coming artists (like Whitney) that often come up to Boston. They provide breaking music news and odd news scoops too.

I just recently followed @clickyclicky after a friend’s suggestion, and it was a good suggestion. They tweet lots of local music links and also retweet other Boston music blogs. A touch of comical Tweets are included with the follow.

@BostonHassle is another source to find local artists and shows—they have a lot of shows, too, which they tweet about.

@bradleysalmanac is an active Boston music-scene blogger that Tweets about upcoming shows that aren’t always heavily promoted. His website has his blog posts, new tunes from locals and an intensive upcoming-shows calendar.