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Parziale's or Bova for fresh bread?

I'm on the hunt for great fresh bread. I've heard both Parziale's and Bova come up for options in the North end, but don't know much about either since I'm newish to Boston. Does anyone have any preferences?

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  1. I lived in the North End for many years, and while I bought bread both places and it was fine, there wasn't anything memorable about either of their products. Do you live in the North End? Because I wouldn't go out of my way for either of those two if you don't.

    If you're newish to Boston, you may not have heard of Iggy's bread, which is generally agreed to be fabulous. I think their major store is near Fresh Pond, I've never been. But you can buy it at places like Whole Foods. If you're in the North End, the Golden Goose on the other side of Hanover near the waterfront used to sell it, probably still do. And Iggy's has a stand at the farmer's market in Copley Square in the summer. Other chowers can probably suggest more options, so it would be helpful to know your neighborhood.

    27 Replies
    1. re: pasuga

      The good thing about picking Iggy's up at the mother ship is that it's significantly cheaper...:)

      1. re: galleygirl

        do you have an address for the mothership

        1. re: foodperv

          Iggy's
          130 Fawcett Street
          Cambridge, MA 02138
          617-491-7600

          Okay, not the only good thing...You get to see all the stuff you never see in the stores, that you didn't know existed...carb nirvana!!!!!

      2. re: pasuga

        Really? Everybody likes Iggys? I find them mediocre at best, and it makes me sad because they are clearly trying. Most of their stuff just tastes like Kleenex.

        I'd love other people's thoughts on other good bakeries in Boston.

          1. re: galleygirl

            I have only been in Boston for a little less than two years, and am comparing them to bread elsewhere. Mostly in San Francisco, where I miss Acme and Anna's Daughter and Semifreddi's, but even in New Mexico I liked several breads better than Iggy's - Sage, Cloud Cliff..

            I was asking for other tips b/c I am looking for better bakeries here. I got a good loaf of rye last summer from a guy at the Union Square Farmer's Market, didn't get his name or try other breads. Had good bread with a meal at Taranta recently, was told it was from "a bakery in Roslindale" but didn't get the name.

            Anyhow, Iggy's is passable, but, for me, something is a little off. And I have bought bread at the mothership, as well as in grocery stores.

            1. re: andytee

              the roslindale bakery would be fornax, mentioned below. i've been there a couple times and think they're pretty good. i also like iggy's, but generally prefer clear flour in brookline (also avail. at canto 6 in jp.) there's a good bakery up in salem, a&j king or something like that, but i've only been once b/c it's out of the way for us.

              high rise in cambridge (limited selection also avail. at ula cafe in jp) does good boules, a yeasted cornbread that's nice and a few other things that slip my mind.

              1. re: andytee

                The bread at the Union Square farmer's market comes from B&R Breads in Framingham. It is quite good, and is sold at local outlets like Formaggio.

                I also like the La Brea bread sold in the bakery at Star. GASP!

                -----
                B&R Bread
                151 Cochituate Rd, Framingham, MA

                1. re: yumyum

                  As mentioned B&R makes the best baguettes in Boston area.

                  1. re: joebelt

                    yes, i have had them, and it seems they make the rye i got at the farmers market as well. will have to try more of their stuff.

                    1. re: andytee

                      Beware if you make the trip to Framingham. They sometimes run out of bread and even if it says closed on the door, still knock, they just forgot to turn the sign. There's no one at the counter so make some noise when you enter to get some help.

              2. re: galleygirl

                Iggy's is nice but since When Pigs Fly opened in Davis (in walking distance), I haven't been near Iggy's. No offense. It's all a matter of what's tasty AND really local for me.

                1. re: digga

                  I have been buying from Pigs Fly b/c I am in Davis a lot and they make some tasty dense breads that make good toast, but (I guess I am just the complainer on this thread) I don't think of them as a great bakery. They do one thing well - make dense bread with chunks. It's kinda a Ben & Jerry's model applied to bread, and to me sometimes feels a little over the top. I do like their stuff, don't get me wrong, but not what I think of as an artisan bakery.

                  1. re: andytee

                    Point well taken. You put it really well - dang, those chunks of mango...they have a way of getting in the way of my bread. ;)

                    1. re: digga

                      Mango / Pecan / Coconut / Cranberry Bread, anyone?

                      I actually like the stuff, and since they are super nice I will go in and sample all the gooey chunky stuff (and the chocolate bread, please) and leave with a loaf of six grain with pumpkin seed or something similarly simple(r). The chunky stuff is pretty good, but hard to imagine what to do with at home.

              3. re: andytee

                Please try their prdocuts directly from their bakery before make such a statement. The prodcut sold at stores can suffer from the packaging and delay to get it to the shelves.

                1. re: joebelt

                  Read back a bit. andytee already said he's been to the mothership.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    yes, thanks chris, i have been to the main bakery several times. it's better, but i still don't like it. some stuff is good, but overall i don't like the bread much.

                    1. re: andytee

                      Sounds to me like you don't like authentic French bread. Their baguettes are forgettable btw. What type of bread do you like? Can you describe it?

                      1. re: joebelt

                        joebelt - do you know any of the other bakeries i mentioned liking? i love authentic french bread. don't like iggy's. if you like them, fine, but i am not feeling it and it is not due to a lack of exposure to good french bread.

                        1. re: andytee

                          What When Pigs Fly? Is this a joke?

                          1. re: andytee

                            Andy, if you don'tl.ike the Iggy's baguette, you may like the one from Clear Flour bakery in Brookline. The crust is not as sourdough-like; thinner and crisper.

                            1. re: galleygirl

                              Iggy's baguette is the worst product they make. B&R makes much better baguettes and Clear Flour comes right after B&R for baguettes.

                              When Pigs Fly is not even in the same league.

                              1. re: joebelt

                                When Pigs Fly makes a completely different kind of bread, so it's an apples/oranges comparison, not a matter of "not in the same league." Sometimes I want a baguette, sometimes I want a tender sandwich bread, sometimes I want a hefty bread with an interesting combination of add-ins. I go to different bakeries for each of those, according to my mood.

                                Also, have you tried the bread from the new When Pigs Fly shop? It's much better than their products sold at supermarkets, just as you're always saying that people who don't care for Iggy's products have to try them at their store.

                                1. re: Allstonian

                                  I find When Pigs Fly bread to be really bad, in the same league as Nashoba Brook breads. I grew up on French bread so that's what I appreciate most.

                                  1. re: joebelt

                                    I like a wide variety of breads, not just French styles. There's room in the world for more tastes than one.

                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                      When it comes to bread, I like many breads but American sandwich breads are not my thing.

              4. i agree about iggy's bread being super
                but bova's bread may not be memorable it is a staple of simple everyday italian bread
                and it does a good job at that

                1. I have been here since September, so still exploring. I only ask about the N. End specifically because I assumed that it, being the N. End, would have some great fresh bread. Disappointing and surprising that they do not from what it sounds like.

                  I definitely am familiar with Iggy's -- any personal favorites on their best bread? Also curious about Breadsong and Fornax, which are a little out of the way but have piqued my interest. I'd be curious if anyone has some input (clearly, I really like fresh bread!).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: IHeartAsparagus

                    How do I love Iggy's? Let me count the ways...

                    First of all the half-basket fFancese....Not to be confused with the small Francese that they sell at the farmers markets and WF.. Too dry for me..The half basket, or the giant loaves they sell at the bakery, have a totally different crumb, a lovely moist inside that is strong enough to stand up to pressed sandwiches, if you buy it sliced, like they sell it at WF, or wonderful to eat by the big bite, if you get it unsliced, like they sell it to restaurants, and at the bakery..

                    The foccaccia...Best eaten by the handful...;)
                    Onion or garlic...ButI love to get a big chunk, then slice it for decadent sandwiches.

                    The Pullman loaves, either cranberry pecan, or raisin walnut...You can use slices of these, or slices of the dinner rolls they make out of the same dough, for wondeful additions to your cheese plate, especially for chevres...

                    Their baguette. i love their baguette.

                    The pull-apart dinner rolls. One perfect roll with room temperature butter.

                  2. Probably a little out of your way and maybe a smaller selection, but the Great Harvest Bread Company in Newtonville is excellent. Amazing fresh bread (they give out free samples too) plus muffins, scones, etc. I used to stop there every day on my way to work when I lived in the area. I think they have a store in Lexington too.

                    1. Both pretty crappy breads. You can go to the salumeria Italiana on Richmond street, it carries good bread.

                      1. Most north enders buy at Parziales--There bread is awsome!! try it out!!

                        Frankie Imbergamo

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: frankie Imbergamo

                          Pretty bad bread compared to Iggy's, Clear Flour or B&R.

                        2. Not far from the NE, Sel de la Terre has a variety of breads of excellent quality.Crusty, dense and flavorful compared to light and fluffy like Bova.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: trufflehound

                            No, that place actually went downhill when their baker left to open his own bakery (B&R) Quality had really gone down.

                            1. re: joebelt

                              Thanks for the input everyone!

                              I went yesterday to Sel and granted it's not phenomenal as it was, I still think for local bread (I'd go to B&R if I had a car), it's comparatively very good. It's the whole problem of remembering what it used to be like!

                              Also, anyone know anything about Breadsong and have opinions on what they put out? I remember seeing them at the Farmer's Market -- do they make When Pigs Fly type bread (i.e. dense)? I'm tempted to go check them out.

                              joebelt, do you know whose bread the Salumeria carries?

                              1. re: IHeartAsparagus

                                Iggy's.

                                PS: you can find B&R bread at Fromaggio Kitchen.

                                1. re: IHeartAsparagus

                                  Salumeria Italiana also carries B&R and Clear Flour (some bread is not available on all days, and I tend to go early on Saturdays to get the B&R baguette because it can sell out).

                                  1. re: magz

                                    since reading this thread, i have been trying more of B&R's breads, buying them at Formaggio Kitchen or Savenor's in Cambridge. I think they are the best I have had in Boston, largely based on the Levain, the Baguette, and the Rye (they call it "Dark Rye" at Formaggio, but it is so not dark. I am really looking for a good Eastern European Rye in Boston, or a dense sourdough rye akin to Anna's Daughters Bakery in the San Francisco area, I've resorted to mail-ordering their rye several times since moving here, but, well, I digress). Anyhow, I have also been back to the Iggy's mothership and again been dissapointed. They make good sweets I guess, but the bread is no better than mediocre, and they should get out of the bagel business entirely.

                            2. Getting back to the original question, Bova would probably be the best 'basic' italian bread, been there for ever.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: treb

                                thanks treb. I am going to try something in the n end just to explore. Though I think Parziale's may have been there even longer from what I understand?

                                1. re: IHeartAsparagus

                                  I don't know when Parziale's opened by my old North Ender neighbor does claim it's where everyone he knows goes and has always gone... I have tried both Bova's and Parziale's and neither is my taste. I think I'd give the slight edge to Parziale's though.

                                2. re: treb

                                  IMHO the best "basic" Italian bread in the North End is at J .Pace. As for a baguette I'd take clear flour over iggy's. Not sure if I've had B & R though.

                                3. Neither Bova's nor Parziale's bread ever did anything for me. Is Boschetto's still on Salem street? Now THAT was some great bread!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                    FYI, I went to Bova's and tried their bread. I will say that it was cheap. And I believe priced according to quality. It just doesn't stack up in the same league as any of the other area artisan breads!