The North End is the Italian neighborhood in Boston in between the North Station area and Faneuil Hall. There are a ridiculous number of restaurants in the small neighborhood so it is a very popular place for diners. Restaurants range from pizza, take-out subs, typical red sauce-and-pasta and classic Italian cuisine. Every Friday and Saturday night after about 6pm there are lines outside many of the most popular restaurants. The best way to avoid having to wait is to come for lunch or for an early dinner. If you come for lunch the food is just as good and usually a lot cheaper. Another way to save some money is to try eating at Il Panino Express on Hanover. This is a cafeteria-style restaurant so by cutting out the service you wind up getting great Italian food for less. At this place and almost every restaurant in the North End, seating is quite tight. So, be prepared to sit real close to your neighbors. If this isn't your thing, again, I recommend eating mid-afternoon.
Pizzeria Regina is an extremely popular pizza place on Thacher Street. If you've heard raves before you come, go ahead and wait in line. You should know, though, that a place called Ernesto's on Salem Street, while a different style of pizza, is also quite good and you get A LOT for your money. One 'slice' is a good two slices anywhere else. They always have a bunch of pizzas with a wide range of toppings to choose from.
After dinner, you have to try some authentic Italian pastry. Mike's Pastry on Hanover Street is the most popular and has the lines to prove it. You should know that there are several other pastry shops that are just as good but rarely have lines like Mike's. Modern Pastry on Hanover and Bova's on the corner of Prince and Salem also have a great range of desserts. Bova's also happens to be open 24 hours a day -- that's right, if you need a loaf of bread or a brownie at 4am that's the place to go. Bova's also sells a variety of pizzas, breads, sandwiches and serves as a deli. There are several other shops that sell desserts, so if you see something appealing, go for it! It's pretty hard to go wrong.
If tiramisu or cannoli isn't your thing, go for some gelato. This creamy, Italian ice cream is sold at several shops and is just like the real thing. I've been to Rome and it tastes the same! The Caffe Dello Sport on the corner of Hanover and Prince is my favorite place for gelato and there is usually a crowd of Italian men watching soccer so you definitely get the European ambiance. Another place to try is Cafe Pompeii on Hanover for gelato.
If you're looking for something to take home to remind you of your visit to the North End, stop in Daily Fresh Candies on Salem St. This shop has a wide range of candies, sauces, etc. and sells fudge and other homemade candy. Another place to try is Martignetti's -- this liquor store on Cross St. recently was ranked best Boston liquor store by one of the local magazines. They have a good wine selection and plenty of other spirits to choose from.