With the demise of D&D’s Franklin Avenue location, I made it my business today to seek out another longstanding Italian market in the South End, namely, DiBacco’s.
Their history apparently dates to 1969.
This had been another recommendation by my old Italian landlord, and as soon as I walked in, I understood why. “Old-school Italian.” That’s really the only phrase you need to describe this place. It sums up the food, the people, and the establishment perfectly.
I walked in, and the vibe was immediate. They’ve been here for decades; they and their customers know exactly what they’re about; the Italian-American classics served up here are eternal.
The decor was time-worn and time-honored. Italian was more commonly spoken than English (in fact, I didn’t hear a lick of English until they addressed me!).
The food made me feel good just looking at it: lasagna, arancini, cutlets, calzones, sausage and peppers, Sicilian-style pizza, countless meats and cheeses, laundry baskets full of very attractive-looking bread.
The dining area had that strangely comforting mixture of casual old decor and utilitarian furniture. In the middle were small tables pushed together for communal seating. I saw an elderly gentleman eating at the back – noticing him was almost like a reminder to me to eat slowly, to sit and enjoy my meal on this rainy afternoon.
Cutlery, cheese, pepper… everything you’d need.
I got a slice of sausage pizza, arancini with sauce, and a sausage and peppers grinder.
All were excellent, but the housemade sausage in the grinder was the standout – it was everything you would want an “Italian sausage” to be, and then some. I should also mention the sauce, which I take for granted as being from a longtime family recipe. That’s the glorious norm at places like DiBacco’s.
DiBacco’s is one of the few remaining Italian fixtures in the South End, more of an oasis than ever after D&D’s closure. I would say get here and enjoy the time warp while you still can. Assemble your own feast, sit down, and make believe you’re on Franklin Avenue as it used to be. Time well spent.