A Thin Layer Of Icing

“I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger.”
Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Modern Pastry, Boston

Modern Pastry, Boston

There is nothing as beautiful as the display cases in an Italian pastry shop. They may even… especially en masse… look better than they taste.

These photos are of the cases in Modern Pastry, in Boston’s North End. We bought Napoleons and Carrot Cakes – both visible in the second photo. We ate them walking in the street – which isn’t ideal.

We had gone to Mike’s Pastry, which is very famous, first – but the place was packed with a line down the street, so we walked down another block to the Modern, which was full, but without too long of a wait.

The funny thing is, sixteen or so years ago, in 2003, Candy and I had gone to Mike’s for a pastry, and an older gentleman came up to her on the street and told her to go somewhere else, other than Mike’s…. I think he said that Mike’s was, in his word, “A tourist trap!” I can’t remember where he recommended… I don’t think it was the Modern. Candy is from Texas, and he… well, he was not – so I had to translate, they couldn’t understand each other.

Candy and the older man in front of Mike’s Pastry in Boston’s North End. This was in 2003 – it still looks exactly like this today.

Jimmy’s Food Store

A while back, Candy had this wine at an Italian restaurant in Fort Worth. It was Lacryma de Christi del Vesuvio – which translates as “Tear of Christ.” It’s a type of wine produced on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. We had been looking for the stuff all over the Metroplex and nobody had it. They all said the same thing though, “have you looked at Jimmy’s? If anybody has it, they will.” I looked up Jimmy’s Food Store and found it was on the corner of Fitzhugh and Bryan in East Dallas. Today we had some time and drove down there.

I’m familiar with that area. For years I went through there twice a day on my way to work downtown – either driving or on a bus. It was always a poor area, pretty lively, but not the place you wanted to wander around after dark. Lately, though, a lot of the run down old apartments and crude homes have been torn down and the area is primed for redevelopment and gentrification.

Meat Case - Italian Sausage and more

Do you like Nutella? - here's an eleven pound jar for seventy dollars.

Jimmy’s Food Store is a fantastic place. It’s the motherlode of specialty Italian food and wine. I heard the owner talking – he’s been in the same location for forty-two years. The neighborhood has been through some serious changes over that time, but his store has stayed the same. It was crowded with people buying Italian groceries – about a quarter of them speaking Italian.

The store isn’t very big, but holds a lot of goodness, crammed in as tight as can be. The biggest area is dedicated to wine, a huge selection of Italian wines, arranged by region and type. You can learn a lot about wine simply walking the aisles and reading the little articles they have taped to each variety.

Sure enough, they had a couple Lachryma Christi whites (the one red they carry was sold out). There was a Mastroberardino and a Vini Nobilis. We bought one of each and a couple other bottles of wine. We picked up some pasta (Pastosa – imported from Brooklyn!) some cheese and a couple of sauces to go with the pasta.

A couple of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio

This is the kind of place you don’t want to go when you are hungry. You will buy too much stuff. In addition to the wine and groceries, back next to the meat counter, is a little place where you can order sandwiches. We bought a Cuban and a Muffaletta, some drinks, and took them out to a little table out by the street. The day had started out crisp, but the Texas sun was warming everything up quickly.

Mufalletta - big enough for about three meals

Cuban Sandwich

Seating out on the street.

It was really nice sitting out there on the street eating sandwiches and enjoying the day. There was even live music – a partly blind man, Vincent Van Buren,  playing harmonica and singing the blues (and a lot of old Beatles tunes).

It doesn’t get any better than that.

Vinnie Van Buren 1

Vinnie Van Buren 2

Vinnie Van Buren 3

Vinnie Van Buren 4

Video – Partially Blind Man Plays Harmonica at Local Food Store

Antonio Ramblés – Dallas’s Italian grocery

A lot of restaurants use Jimmy’s Sausage – Like Fireside Pies

What’s Worth Drinking – Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio


I surfed through Twitter and Facebook, looking for stuff to do today, and found a Food Truck I had never tried before, Gennarino’s set up on the Siegel’s Parking lot down on Upper Greenville, just north of Lover’s.

Gennarino’s is a Friggitoria, which is Italian for a place that sells fried foods. In this case, it’s a truck that mostly sells things made out of fried pizza dough. Their menu specializes in Neapolitan street food.

It is a large and unique menu. There is a poster with photographs of:

Zeppoline Salate – Neapolitan fried dough bites

Panzarotti – Potato croquettes

Zeppolone – A panzarotto inside of a giant zeppola

Arancino Rosso – Traditional tomato risotto ball made with yummy Bolognese sauce

Arancino Giallo – Saffron risotto ball

Polentine – Fried polenta triangles

Timballo Rosso – Handheld spaghetti and meatballs

Timballo Bianco – Handheld fettuccine Alfredo

Pizza Fritta – Fried dough topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese

There was no way I was going to be able to make up my mind. There were a few folks standing around a tall table eating and I asked, “What’s good today?”

One woman (I think it was Raffealel’s wife – one of the owners) pointed out the specials, so I ordered a Calzone, something I was familiar with. I was able to chat with Raffealel for a bit about the food truck business and how they started (three brothers and Raffealel’s wife) and where he liked to set up. This truck runs out of Irving, which is why I hadn’t seen them before. He said he was doing mostly lunch business outside of office buildings in Los Colinas. He was very friendly and I really enjoyed talking to him, so when you visit his truck, be sure and say hello.

They had a couple of tall stand-up tables set up outside the truck which was nice – it’s always frustrating when you get your food and don’t have a place to eat it. My calzone was great. The fried dough was very crisp and light and not too greasy at all. It was a delicious treat, not like eating a football, which a lot of calzone’s feel like.

I wish Gennarino’s ran in Dallas more often. I’d like a chance to work my way through their extensive selection – that fried spaghetti and meatballs looks good, so does the pizza, and I’d like to bite into that Zeppolone (I always like something inside something else).

How to track them down:

Gennarino’s Facebook

Gennarino’s Twitter

Good food makes for happy customers.

Raffealel and his brother. They were great.

I have no idea what this means, but it looks cool.

My Calzone... excellent.

Raffealel out helping a customer with the menu.


Breaking Down the Menu: Dallas’ First Friggitoria

Sneak preview of Gennarino’s food truck

Interview: The Raineri family of Gennarino’s food truck

Food truck review: Gennarino’s

I can’t wait to try Gennarino’s Food Truck

Fried Pizza from a Truck

Gennarino’s is Ready to Roll like a Friggitoria