Post 8 Italian American War Veterans recently held a Blue Front Restaurant appreciation night at the Sons of Italy facility in Winchester. The event grew out of the reminiscing that takes place each Wednesday evening when many North Enders congregate to dine, keep their friendships vibrant and recall fond memories of a cherished Italian enclave. The Blue Front Restaurant which was established by Mariano and Amaranda Passacantilli in 1933 became an iconic bar/restaurant because of the hard work of Mariano and the passion for cooking that Amaranda had. At first, they catered to the working class of the neighborhood until the establishment gained a bit of renown in the city for home style Italian recipes.
Maranda would prepare such delicacies as pastina in brodo, tripe, liver and onions, pork chops and vinegar peppers, veal spezzato, verza in podella, calamari al sugo and fried smelts. Her passion for satisfying her customers with a meal like she would cook for her own family gave her much joy.
For lunch on week days the booths would be filled with workers from area businesses such as the Boston Sausage Company and on Sundays the restaurant would be packed with Boston Edison workers from all over the city. It was also a favorite spot for cab drivers and the Boston Police during their supper breaks. Many long lasting friendships were formed with members of the United States Coast Guard who were stationed down the street and welcomed into the Blue Front family. In between all that there were the “ regulars” playing cards, kibitzing and socializing before heading home at the end of a work day.
When it was time for them to retire, they turned the business over to their son, Al and son-in-law, Curly who ran the Blue Front for many years together. They worked long hours and very hard to continue the recognition that my grandparents established. Their regime brought the place to another level where not only blue collar workers frequented the restaurant but also a professional crowd who would venture down to 424 Hanover Street from the Government Center and other nearby locales to have lunch and sometimes return in the evening with their friends and spouses to have supper.
Although the Blue Front closed in 1983 after 50 years, its reputation as a neighborhood destination for good food and a place for nurturing lifelong friendships still remains alive.
The Passacantilli brothers and their cousin, Eric want to thank Post 8 for their invitation and for helping them to relive very fond memories of ‘’growing up’’ and working in the Blue Front.
Special thanks go to North Enders: Joe Blazo, Vito Aluia, Pat Reppucci, Libby Federico and Frank Julianello for duplicating the tripe, pork with vinegar peppers and sautéed mushrooms just like Maranda made.
Photo courtesy of Arthur Lauretano.