While so many parts of the Boston area have been gentrified over recent times, South Medford is definitely not one of them; driving into this close-knit section of the city is like stepping back in time, with its main street lined with Italian restaurants, bakeries and pastry shops, and food stores. Once you leave the commercial section of the neighborhood (the part where Main Street and Harvard Street intersect), you find yourself in mainly residential neighborhoods that head back toward Tufts University to the west, Medford Square to the north, and the Somerville border to the south. And it is this last area that is home to a true hidden gem called Italo Bakery, a little shop off the beaten path that has, among other things, some of the best Sicilian/bakery pizza in the Boston area.
Located on a lesser-traveled part of Main Street that heads up to Somerville's Winter Hill neighborhood, Italo Bakery is easy to miss, sitting off to the side of the road at a rather odd intersection that has three parking spaces seemingly in the middle of the street. The squat brick building--which has signs announcing "the best bread and pizza"--doesn't look like much from the outside, and the interior of the place is rather no-frills as well, with various goods (pasta, olive oil, cookies, etc.) set up along the walls, and display cases front and center showing a variety of baked goods and pastries, with trays of pizza sitting behind the counter.
A couple of the real highlights at Italo Bakery are the scali bread and the pizza. The bread is a classic Italian-style braided loaf that is loaded with sesame seeds and is a true regional dish, being found mainly in the Boston area and not too many other places. The bakery pizza here is simply wonderful, with the Sicilian squares being chewy and slightly greasy and having the type of sweet-tasting sauce that you often find with this kind of pizza. The plain squares are terrific, but the ones with pepperoni may be even better, with the smokiness and saltiness of the meat adding a lot of flavor to the slices. And the slices are almost obscenely cheap (think pocket change for a slice), as are the prices for the breads, Italian cookies, and other treats at this spot.
Neighborhood bakeries and pastry shops aren't always easy to find in the Boston area, but South Medford has several of them, including this utterly unknown shop a few blocks south of the other bakeries. If you like Sicilian-style bakery pizza--or scali bread or Italian cookies, for that matter--do yourself a favor and take a trip over to Italo Bakery to find out why the locals love this place so much.
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