Food & Drink

Neighborhood Neon: Ida’s Italian Cuisine, Since 1951, Closes Its Doors

It is the end of an era in Boston’s North End with this week’s closing of Ida’s Italian Cuisine on Mechanic Street. Its iconic neon sign no glows on Hanover Street and a sign on the door announces the closing by owners Paul and Donna Bruno. Paul’s mother, Luisa, did most of the cooking along with his aunt Inex Caggianelli. Luisa died at 91 last December and Inex, now in her 80s, has had health problems so the family decided to sell the business and property. New owner of the building and restaurant, Frank DePasquale, recently explained his plans at a neighborhood meeting. He intends to continue the traditional cuisine under the name, Bricco Al Fresco, serving the 26 seats inside and a new 48 seat patio outside on Mechanic Court.

Photos by Matt Conti.

12 Replies to “Neighborhood Neon: Ida’s Italian Cuisine, Since 1951, Closes Its Doors

  1. Sad that Ida’s has gone. I believe I was their oldest regular, having dined there often when I first came to Boston in 1952. I remember Anna, in the kitchen, assisted by her daughter, Felicia. There were no menues. Anna would serve what she made for the day. Ida’s was the favorite of Italian businessmen, politicians and radio broadcasters. (There were Italian programs on Sundays on Boston radio.) Felicia took summers off to cook at Caddy Camp, run for North End boys in New Hampshire. Several businessmen who loved Felicia’s cooking set her up with her own restaurant on Richmond St. It became one of the most popular in the North End. Ida’s remained very much as it always had been, featuring home-style cooking. Inez’s roast veal, my favorite dish, was absolutely superb. Monika’s favorite was veal saltimbocca. Dining at Ida’s was like dining in an old friend’s home, and Paul and Donna were old friends to all.. At Ida’s, you met old friends, made new friends. Oh, how we will miss it.

  2. Robert, you have stirred up pleasant memories for me.I too will miss Ida’s & I loved Felicia’s as well along with the European where they offered a pizza the size of a football field.

    1. I worked as a busboy at Felcia’s in the mid 80’s. It was a right of passage back then for North End kids to work as busboys, waiters and some became cooks like my Uncle Vito. Felicia’s was institution in this neighborhood, nationally recognized and was thee place to go for two decades. While it would be called a “red sauce” restaurant by todays gastronomic standards, it was classic Italian-American food in a time before “gourmet” items were available to us the US.

      Felicia was a gem of a lady and a character, world renowned stars flocked to the restaurant for the food and more importantly to see her, and she often flew out to California to cook for them! One of my fondest memories was speaking to BOB HOPE on the telephone while working there!

  3. It would be cool if De Pasquale kept the original signage and just renovated the interior – that sign is a nice landmark on hanover … maybe he didn’t buy the rights to the name of the restaurant?

  4. I wish something unique would go into one of these places for a change. Not saying a mainstream place, but how about something independent, unique, and up and coming. Sorry to see a place like this leave the neighborhood.

  5. Though likely inevitable, still a sad development.

    I’d be interested if someone familiar with the neighborhood could comment on whether or not this is the last of the traditional trattoria’s to close its doors and give way to restaurants that reflect the changing character of the north end as a whole? (Just a historical/cultural curiosity, not a judgment.)

    1. italian canteen on hanover st is the last one of the original 5-6 of the old north end and they soon (end of yr) will be shuttering their doors

  6. Mike, I know just where you are coming from, therefore, the closest you are going to come to this
    kind of restaurant is ‘”RINO” in East Boston on Saratoga St. Mike to avoid the crowd go
    after lunch & before dinner. The food is Great & the Prices are even better than those of the
    North End. CHECK IT OUT.

  7. So sad to find this out this evening – I was sending one of my friends to Ida’s on his trip to Boston. I started eating there in the late 1950s when I was an undergraduate at MIT, and during later years when I worked at Raytheon and the New England Aquarium (1969-70). It was my favorite dinner place and a wonderful bookend to the No Name, back when the latter used to serve breakfast to fishermen and seagulls that wandered in the back door.

    I was told that Ida’s was also a favorite restaurant of Arthur Fiedler in his Boston Pops days, although I never met him there. From a vantage point in Louisiana – with excellent fare – I still miss Ida’s.

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