As a former historian, I tend to ascribe good qualities to places strictly because they are old. And Revere Beach, being the oldest public beach in the U.S., and the town of Revere having been one of the first places colonized in 1624, I was prepared for something with panache and charm.
Oh, girl. When are you going to learn? "Old" in Boston can mean a lot of things other than panache and charm. I stepped off the T at Revere into neighborhoods with broken church windows, balconies slanting precipitously toward the ground, corner grocery shops that looked like you'd better know the owner's name before you went in. It is, in short, not the kind of place where you should plan on taking a leisurely stroll. I made haste to find a public bus and rode the rest of the way to Luberto's, which is situated on the main drag in Revere.
And oh my, was it worth it! Luberto's is a very Italian bakery, with mirrored walls, and a plethora of pastry.
It is the kind of place where the owner's son comes out to introduce himself and shake hands, matriarchs order towering stacks of boxes, and some of the old-time Italians that are still left in this neighborhood sit at the tables for coffee hour.
Everything that you can find in the North End, from ricotta pie to cannolis to Italian cookies to half moon pies to pistachio macaroons..is also at Luberto's. Just minus the throngs of tourists and lack of seating and the prices. For $7.25, I had a Neapolitan, ricotta pie, a bag full of cookies, and a soda.
The macaroons were delicious, the ricotta pie was magnificently smooth, and I had a hard time coaxing myself out of that oasis of goodness back onto the "mean streets" of Revere. But go, I did. After all, there was still Wonderland to visit. As I sat on the bus, I conjured in my mind the lovely sea air, the soft sand, the sparkling, cool, deep blue water...all of the things that this California Girl loves about the ocean.
I can't quite say that Revere Beach lived up to that.
Yes, there is sand. Yes, there are shells. Yes, there is water. But something is missing here that I can't put my finger on. As I watched jet fuel waft down off planes taking off from Logan, and I looked at the dirty sand, and the unfriendly wave break, and the deserted boardwalk...it seemed to me that joy and beauty were not at a maximum here. I took out some of the cookies from Luberto's as a consolation snack as I walked back to the T. I can't say I'll be coming back to Wonderland, a stop so ill-named that I have to consider the possibility that it was an ironic title. But if you have a car, I do strongly recommend a trip to Luberto's!