Boston’s most authentic Italian restaurant

—The Boston Sunday Globe, the Restaurant Issue

History

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One of the most memorable features of Mamma Maria is the wonderful striking view of downtown Boston. Our restaurant sits on a small hill overlooking the city. Floor-to-ceiling windows reveal a dramatic panorama contrasting the Boston skyline with cobblestones of North Square—the oldest public square in America—and home to many pivotal figures in American history: Cotton Mather in the 17th century, Paul Revere in the 18th century, Charles Dickens and Honey Fitz in the 19th century and Rose Kennedy in the 20th century.

Editor’s Pick: Mamma Maria

—By Boston Magazine—50 Best Restaurants

“With dimly lit dining rooms with five private dining rooms, Mamma Maria transports you to la Patria with an old-world intimacy, attention to detail and a warm welcome.”

Chronicles of North Square and Environs

1634North Boston settled by Sir Richard Hawkins. A market is established at North Square (also known at various times in the past as Frizel’s, Clark’s and Market Square).
1635The streets around North Square are the first in Boston to be formally laid out – they become today’s Fleet, Richmond, Cross, and Union Streets.
1649Second Church (Old North Meeting House) organized. North Square developed.
1650Church completed. First sermon preached there in June.
1654Red Lyon tavern established at the corner of Fish Street and Wood Lane (present day North and Richmond Streets). Nicholas Upshall, keeper.
1673Moon Street resident Captain Thomas Kemble condemned to stand in the stocks for two hours for lewd and unseemly conduct. After a three- year absence, he had “saluted” (kissed) his wife on their doorstep on the Sabbath day.
1676Great Fire destroys the Old North Meeting House, several warehouses, and forty-five dwellings, including Increase Mather’s parsonage. “Large flakes of fire” are carried as far as Charlestown.
1677Old North Meeting House rebuilt.
c. 1680A fine new house constructed on the site of Increase Mather’s parsonage. In 1681 this home is sold to Robert Howard, merchant. Ninety years later, Paul Revere purchases this dwelling. Today it still stands in North Square and is Boston’s oldest residence.
1682First colonial Custom House established at the northeast corner of Fish Street and Wood Lane (today’s North and Richmond Streets).
1683Eight residents purchase a fire engine for the North End.
1691King's Head Inn, on the northwest corner of Fleet and Ship (now North) Streets, burns and is rebuilt.
1693Fainting and swooning, Mercy Short is tormented by the devil at North Meeting House on a Sunday.
1694Timothy and Susannah Wadsworth, innkeepers, mark the Red Lyon Inn (where Cirace's Liquor Store now stands) with their initials, "T. S." and the date -- 7694.

1701-1708The Kemble house becomes the first writing school in the North End, with Captain and Mrs. Kemble's daughter, Mrs. Sarah Knight, as teacher. Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Mather will later attend this school.
1708Sun Court Street, Moon Street, Garden Court Street and Bell Alley (now Prince Street) are named.
1711Colonel Thomas Hutchinson inherits the John Foster Mansion on Garden Court Street. His son, Thomas Hutchinson, later governor of Massachusetts, resides there until the Revolution. Clark Mansion, on the corner of Garden Court Street and North Square, is built. Clark, a wine merchant, builds his house to vie with the Hutchinsons. Moses Pierce's mother builds a house two doors away from what is now the Paul Revere House.
1714New North Meeting House is built, a commodious wooden building on North (now Hanover) Street. Rebuilt in 1803 by architect: Charles Bulfinch, this church is now known as St. Stephen's.
1721New North Brick Church on Middle (now Hanover) Street built by congregants protesting the selection of a new minister at New North. Shem Drowne crafts a gilded cockerel weathervane for the spire. (Drowne later makes the grasshopper wearthervane for Faneuil Hall.) The cockerel weathervane, symbolizing the cock that crowed the morning after Peter denied Christ three times, served as a warning to the faithful.
1723Disturbance occurs at the installation of Peter Thacher at New North Church, "so great it could no1 be regularly performed."
1734Town of Boston appropriates £300 for erecting three permanent market buildings, one each in North Square, Dock Square and in the South End near Boylston Street. All three markets open on June 4. A bell rings for opening at sunrise and closing at one PM. Clark's Square becomes known as North Square when a market is established there. Many citizens oppose fixed markets due to fears of increased prices and that fixed markets may be a precursor to the establishment of the Anglican Church.
1737A mob of men with blackened faces, some of whom are dressed as clergy, saw support posts; of the market house in North Square at midnight.
1765In retaliation for the Stamp Act, a mob attacks and sacks Governor Thomas Hutchinson's mansion on Garden Court Street, scattering historical papers.
1770Triangular in shape, North Square is cobbled with beach pebbles and features a town pump, public market and guardhouse. British troops are quartered in houses surrounding the square. Paul Revere purchases the former Howard house.
1771Paul Revere illuminates drawings in the windows of his house to mark the first anniversary of the Boston Massacre. “Thousands" view the spectacle from North Square and are "struck with a solemn silence, and their countenances covered with a melancholy gloom" according lo a period newspaper.
1774Revere attends a meeting to advise the city on the location of street lights in North Boston. On March 2, 310 street lights in Boston are lit for the first time. A twenty-pound fine is levied for damage to a lamp. Selectmen are empowered to remove posts or signs that block light from the lamps, and order the owners to take them down. If not removed in 48 hours, owners are fined six shillings for every 24 hours the obstructions remain in place. Boston's population is 16,000.
1775Captain Atkins, a neighbor of Paul Revere, assists British troops in taking down Old North Meeting House for firewood to supply the transports sailing to England with the sick. Some suspect that the Meeting House was razed in part to make space for drilling troops. British abandon heavy guns and howitzers at Copp's Hill after the battle of Bunker Hill.
1786The site of the Old North Meeting House is purchased by Dr. John Lathrop, who builds a "fine house" there. Five retail liquor licenses are held by North Square proprietors.
1788Clark's Square is officially renamed North Square.
1789A market for selling wood is established in North Square replacing the food market.
1798Tax list reveals that 70 percent of the houses in the square are wooden rather than brick. Houses average 400-800 square feet.

1815Gale destroys elm trees planted at the site of the Old North Meeting House.
1824Wood Lane renamed Richmond Street
1828The Port Society for the City of Boston founds a Seamen's Bethel "for the moral and religious instruction of seamen" in the old Methodist chapel in Methodist Alley near North Square. The Rev. Edward Thompson Taylor, a former sailor, is hired as preacher.
1832The Kimble House on Moon Street is demolished, and is replaced by a tobacco warehouse.
1833Seamen's Bethel (present day Sacred Heart Church) constructed by the Boston Port Society. The Bethel includes a reading room for self-improvement, a school for sailors (navigation) and a union to hear grievances against masters and owners of vessels. The Seamen's Aid Society is founded by Sarah Josepha Hale and a number of other society ladies of Boston to assist the wives and daughters of sailors while their husbands and fathers are away at sea.
1834Hutchinson mansion, on Garden Court Street, is taken down. Store opened on the ground floor of the Bethel to sell goods made by seamen's wives and daughters.
1836Free school for seamen's daughters established at the Bethel - academic subjects and needlework are taught.
1838The firm of James Martin and Son established. The company manufactures awnings, flags, tents, sails and horse goods at its factory aI89-97 Richmond Street.
1845Irish immigrants, driven out of their homeland by successive years of partial or complete failures of the potato crop, begin to arrive in large numbers. Unitarians build new church on the site of the New Brick (Cockerel) Church. Ward 2 (eastern half of the North End) averages 1j .19 inhabitants per house (10.57 city wide).
1847Martner's House moves from rented quarters to a new building on North Square on March 24. Founded ten years earlier, the Marirrer's House provides temporary lodging for sailors waiting to ship out. The new building includes a store, smoking and reading room, and a chapel. c. 1848 North End Mission opens at 201 North Street to provide food and clothing for the poor.
1849Cholera devastates the North End and other sections of the city. Mortality is especially high in the Irish districts, forcing the city to appoint a committee to investigate the causes of the epidemic. The committee recommends tearing down the worst tenements and slums, and cleansing the streets with water piped in from the suburbs.
1850sJewish immigrants begin settling in the North End.
1860sMany Scandinavians, mostly transient sailors, live in boarding houses in or near North Square.
1860sSt. John’s Hall on Moon Street serves as a social club for Irish immigrants.
1862James Fitzgerald, the uncle of John F. "Honey Fitz', Fitzgerald (grandfather of President John F. Kennedy) purchases a grocery store at 310 North Street.
1869"Great Gale" of September damages the Old Cockerel Church on Hanover Street, blowing down its gilded rooster weather vane.
1870sA cholera epidemic sweeps through the North End. Portuguese immigrants begin to settle in the neighborhood. Many are from the Azores, a group of islands in the center of the Atlantic Ocean dependent on Portugal.
1871The Unitarian Church, on the site of the old Cockerel Church, is torn down for the widening of Hanover Street.
1873The "Cockerel" weathervane purchased by the First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
1870s and 1880sItalian immigrants, primarily from northern Italy, begin to settle in the North End.
1870sHotel Sorrenro is constructed at the corner of North Street and North Square (now Rachel Revere Park).
1882John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald, later the first American born Irish mayor of Boston, works as a tour guide in the North End.
1883Rev. Soloman E. Breen of the Mariner's House on North Square reports that there were over 140 rum shops in the small area bounded by Hanover, Richmond, North and Clark Streets.
1884Seamen’s Bethel sold to an Italian religious organization, the Societa Cattolica Italiana di San Marco (Society of St. Mark's).
1885Matthew Keany, the Irish "boss" of the North End, owns a grocery store at One Prince Street.
1888The former Seamen’s Bethel remodeled as the Sacred Heart Church.
1889"Honey Fitz" and his bride, Mary Josephine Hannon, move to 4 Garden Court Street.
1890Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, later Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, born at 4 Garden Court Street.
1891Records indicate that 154 families in the North End are living in one-room flats.

1903St. John's School opens.
1906North Square has five banks (Berradini, Forte, The Siculo Express, Stabile and Ferrulo). North Square customarily crowded with laborers waiting for padrones to offer them work at construction sites or farms in Maine or New Hampshire. Workers transported in horse-drawn wagons.
1907-08Paul Revere House restored and opened, to the public as a museum.
1915Boston’s wholesale vegetable and fruit market operates at the corner of Richmond Street and Atlantic Ave. Simon the Jewish tailor and Caruso's grocery are situated at the corner of Richmond and North Streets. Johnny lannaco establishes one o I the first pastry shops in the Nor.th End next door to the Paul Revere House.
1919Marines guard the Paul Revere House during the Boston Police Strike.
1927Grande’s barber shop located at the corner of Prince and North Streets.
1928A major brawl occurs in front of the Hotel Rex (formerly the Hotel Italia) over the issue of whether the Taurasi area of Campania grew larger lemons than Sicily. A stiletto duel ensued.
1945Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Lithuanian immigrants begin to arrive.
1950Outdoor altar is set up in North Square for a procession in honor of St. Rosalie, patron saint of Palermo, Sicily.
1960sReturning from East Boston, Arthur Fiedler of the Boston Symphony orchestra stops to conduct an impromptu concert on Hanover Street.
1963Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston celebrates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Sacred Heart Church with an outdoor mass in North Square.
1992A forty-sixth anniversary celebration of the proclamation of the Italian Republic is held in North Square. The celebration includes parades, speeches and music.
1995

Portions of the movie Mrs. Winterbourne filmed in North Square. On July 2 a procession and concert in honor of St. Dominic is held in North Square. On August 6 a six-foot bronze sculpture by local artist Richard Aliberti is donated to Sacred Heart Church by Frank and Jean Privitera. The statue is dedicated to Bishop John Baptist Scalabrini, founder of the Italian missionary movement c. 1900.

Thanks to the Paul Revere Association for this history of North Square.

  

Contact

3 North Square
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-0077
info@mammamaria.com

 

Hours

Sunday – Thursday
5pm – 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday
5pm – 10pm

Copyright © Mamma Maria 2020