Friday, May 31, 2013

Bread+Butter: Lee Napoli's New North End Cafe

"Pastry is different from cooking because you have to consider the chemistry, beauty and flavor. It's not just sugar and eggs thrown together. I tell my pastry chefs to be in tune for all of this. You have to be challenged by using secret or unusual ingredients."
--Ron Ben-Israel

With places like Mike's Pastry, Bova's Bakery and Modern Pastry, does the North End really need another bakery? If another bakery wanted to make inroads into the North End, it would need a highly talented Pastry Chef as well as offer something significantly different from many of the other bakeries. Well, the new Bread + Butter bakery and cafe may fit that bill and I highly recommend that you visit this new spot and partake of their baked wonders.

The owner/chef is Lee Napoli (pictured above), a skilled Pastry Chef who has worked at or consulted at such Boston area restaurants as Icarus, Maison Robert, Grill 23, Anago, Metro, Bricco, The Buttery and Sandrine’s Bistro. In addition, she established the region’s first and only association for pastry professionals, the Professional Pastry Guild of New England. She is also the owner of Chocolee Chocolates, located in the South End, which has long been my favorite chocolate shop in the city. I was excited to learn that Lee was opening a bakery & cafe in the North End, believing it would be a hit as well.

Bread + Butter is located at the former spot of Caffé Graffiti, at the intersection of Cross and Salem streets. For the summer, much of the space is open to the air, and the outside patio will seat about 30 people. While relaxing on a bench or in the grass at the nearby Rose Kennedy Greenway, you can view the restaurant, and when you see everyone dining there, it may entice you to check it out. The inside is small, with approximately ten tables, but the open walls make it seem much roomier.

The bakery-cafe sells both savory and sweet items, from sandwiches to chocolates, salads to cookies. Most of the baked goods and pastries are visible on the long counter, and I am sure you will be enticed by multiple items. As it is still new, selections may change with time as they hone and revise their menu selections. The key here is that this is not a traditional Italian bakery, so its offerings are very different than what you will find at other North End bakeries. There is no Cannoli, no La Sfogliatella, no Pizzelle. Instead, you will find creative offerings which you might find at other artisan bakeries, all with Chef Napoli's unique touches.

Behind the front counter, you can see partially into the kitchen where all of the magic bakery is taking place. You might even see Chef Napoli working on some new creation. I was recently invited to a media tasting, and got to sample some of the delicious items coming out of this kitchen.

Bread+ Butter is open for breakfast, and serves a variety of enticing items including scones, danish, croissants, quiche and muffins. They even serve a Breakfast Pizza, topped with a poached egg and assorted savory toppings. I didn't get a chance to taste the pizza but I will do so on one of my next visits. They also sell a variety of coffees and teas, including iced tea, as well as their own House Made Sparkling Sodas. I tried the Raspberry soda, and after a good stir, it was a refreshing drink with only a mild sweetness.

For lunch, you can find an assortment of Sandwiches (most for $7.95) and Salads ($6-$9). Try a BBQ Pulled Pork or a Duck Confit. Or maybe a Kale & Farro Salad or a Caesar Salad. All of the breads are made in house, and the exact type will vary from day to day. The baguettes are delicious, with just that right combination of textures, a crustier exterior but a soft fluffy interior. And they make for good sandwich bread, not too heavy or tough.

It is the pastries which will most intrigue and delight your taste buds. They sell chocolates and truffles from Chocolee Chocolates, though it will mainly be mixed boxes, giving you an assortment of chocolate treasures. You will find other treats too, such as Hand-Dipped Eclairs, Beignets, Cakes and Tarts Du Jour, Cheesecake, Lemon Almond Cake, Brownies, and much more. I have had the eclairs and beignets at Chocolee Chocolates are they were excellent, with compelling fillings or rich cream or chocolate.

You will find a few different croissants, including a Ham & Cheese Croissant. Pure enjoyment! Flaky, light, and buttery with a bit of saltiness from the ham. An excellent croissant, and I suspect all of the varieties will be equally as good.

The Nutella Danish, visible above in pieces in the right hand corner, is also flaky and light, with intriguing notes of nuts, cinnamon and creamy chocolate. Another winner, well balanced flavors sure to please.

The deliciousness continues. The Pecan Roll is a soft mound of sticky, nutty goodness. Trying to decide which pastry to order is difficult with all of these excellent choices available.

I am a fan of coconut, and a cookie made of all coconut, a macaroon, has always appealed to me. Their macaroons are moist, not too dense, and have a nice drizzle of chocolate over them. Definitely one of the better coconut macaroons I have tasted.

Maybe the most compelling pastry though was the Queen's Pastry, the item in the back of the above photo with a toothpick in it. Based on an old French recipe, it is sometimes described as a cross between a croissant and a puff pastry. In the past, it might have been the scraps of these items, combined, and put into a mold. Here, it is a yeasted butter dough with salt and sugar. It is light and airy, with an exquisite melange of sweet and salty, an addictive treat which you could easily devour and then desire another.

A couple of the baked goods were good, but not especially interesting like the items I have highlighted above. However, this is a brand new bakery so it will need a little time to work out any kinks, and decide which baked goods are the best for them. Overall, I am impressed with Bread+ Butter and think Chef Napoli has another winner on her hands. It is a worthy addition to the North End. I will certainly be back to try more of the menu and it receives my highest recommendation.

Bread + Butter on Urbanspoon


Sam @ The Second Lunch said...

This is around the corner from our office, which is a blessing and a curse. I like the fact that they brew George Howell coffee – a good alternative to the $$ but decent Thinking Cup, and the Red Barn served around the corner at the new Cuppa Coffee (the meatpies there are very good though...). A few folks thought that the salads were too small for the price point, but my side Greek salad was good! And the Nutella Danish... first off, why not call it a Nutella cinnamon bun? Because it sure tastes like one. But, yes, it was dangerously delicious.

Shilpa Kamineni said...


I didn't realize this place was open and can't wait to check it out this weekend. I love love ChocoLee in South End and had the Queen's pastry there before. Looking forward to having it again at Bread+Butter. Definitely tasty and recommended!