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North End’s New Bakery – Frank DePasquale Opens Bricco Panetteria

Owner Frank DePasquale next to the bread produced at his Bricco Panetteria (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

Ever since opening “Il Panino” in 1987, Frank DePasquale has been at the heart of the North End’s business community, providing restaurants that attract thousands of visitors each year.

Now DePasquale is trying out something relatively new for him, opening his first bakery and joining a centuries-old tradition in the neighborhood, once renown for having one or more bakeries on almost every street.

“We do everything in-house,” says DePasquale, “except for our own linen. What we were missing, though, was a bakery that could provide bread for all our restaurants. Now Bricco Panetteria serves that purpose, and it also provides bread for people stopping by wanting to buy it.”

To find the place, though, one needs to pay attention. Bricco Panetteria is tucked away at the back of the Bricco Ristorante building on Hanover Street. A big sign leads the way down the alley that ends with the bakery’s entrance — a glass door that opens to a staircase leading down to the heart of the bakery.

Buying bread at Bricco Panetteria adds the value of actually seeing where and how the bread is made, as the one room environment provides the opportunity to take in all the essence and magic of bread making.

Head baker Ben Tock. (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

“A fundamental ingredient to make our bread is passion,” says DePasquale. “Without it, you can’t do anything. That’s why I brought in the best bakers I could find.

“As for the recipe, it’s about combining the best ingredients, the best flour, and the best water.

Frank DePasquale shows the ingredients that go into his bread. (photo ©Nicola Orichuia)

“I go to Italy at least once a year and have been observing various breads in different bakeries. I noticed the texture was different and it was really good. So I wanted to replicate it.”

It is no surprise DePasquale wants to import Italian bread styles, as the business entrepreneur has been promoting the Italian way of life and culture in Boston for as long as he can remember.

“I spent most of my childhood in Positano, on the Amalfi coast, and I try to go back as much as I can. I’m constantly observing chefs at work and talking with them. I try to bring back with me as much of their knowledge as possible. The goal is to make the North End the greatest Italian American community in the country.”

In a way, DePasquale is succeeding in maintaining the old neighborhood tradition of bread making, bucking the trend of bakeries going out of business over the past decades. In fact, the owner of Bricco Panetteria doesn’t see his bakery as competing with the other three bread bakeries of the North End, (Parziale’s, Bova’s and Boschetto’s) but just adding value to the already extraordinary breads found in the neighborhood.

“I have restaurants come by to taste my bread, but if they tell me they buy their bread from one of the other neighborhood bakeries, then I don’t sell my bread to them.”

The bakery, however, has been a hit success so far, after just a few months in business. Customers can see how the bread is made inside the large French ovens (which heat the bread on both the top and bottom) and even exchange a few words with head baker Ben Tock or Michael Rhoads, who take care of the daily operations that go into making several different breads.

There’s a bread for everyone: The classic baguette, olive ciabattas, sunflower and New York-style breads, as well as decorative crowns made of mini-baguettes.

“We’ve had a phenomenal response,” assures DePasquale, “with many repeat customers.”

A quick taste of Bricco Panetteria’s superb olive ciabatta is guaranteed to have you return for more as well.

This story is the first of a four-part series on the bread bakeries of the North End. The series is made in collaboration with the Boston Post-Gazette.

About Nicola Orichuia

Nicola is an Italian journalist and media enthusiast living in the United States. He keeps an eye on the Italian-American communities across the country and is always looking for positive stories to highlight.