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Fast friends
Only a few months old, North End sandwich and coffee shop Volle Nolle seems part of the neighborhood's weft. Lunch time finds owners Torri Crowell and Armando Galvao chatting with young moms, presenting paper and crayons to a restless toddler, remembering return customers' orders, and serving very good sandwiches. These include lemony tuna with green beans ($5.75). A chef from around the corner drops by, as does a visitor from Maine, and students from the nearby North Bennet Street School. Crowell, who worked as a server at Olives for 16 years, emits easygoing hospitality, though the North End residents might point to the length of their commute (a staircase) as a factor in Volle Nolle's comfortable mood. ''We know everybody because we've been here for years," says Crowell. With any luck, their shop will stick around, too. Volle Nolle, 351 Hanover St., 617-523-0003. -- LEIGH BELANGER

Look around Finagle a Bagel
Finagle a Bagel has pulled together enough history, trivia, and fun facts for a Bagel Museum. The self-guiding tour takes you through the back corridors of the bagel factory, where cards on the wall list top-selling flavors (plain, sesame, and cinnamon raisin), as well as duds that had to be nixed (candy hearts in the dough were ''horrendous," admits owner Laura Trust). Windows into the production area show the rounds boiling, baking, and cooling on a spinning, spiral contraption. Trust and co-president Alan Litchman designed their Newton facility with a tour in mind. The museum grew from memorabilia dating to the company's start in the 1980s in Faneuil Hall Marketplace as Julian's Cheesecakes. Bagels were added as a way to use up the extra cream cheese. ''We had so many souvenirs and stories to tell that we ended up hanging them on the wall," says Trust. An outlet sells bagels at a discount. Finagle a Bagel, 77 Rowe St., Newton, 617-213-8428 or Free tours Fridays 2 to 5 p.m. or by arrangement. -- CLARA SILVERSTEIN

A taste of Taiwan, in Allston
Allston, where every other eatery seems to serve noodles, was missing something, thought Taiwanese cook Kung Hung. Though the area was filled with students from Taiwan, there was nowhere for them to find breads and baked goods from home. So Hung decided to provide the place, and two years ago opened Yi Soon Bakery. It smells sweet and yeasty, the racks filled with doughy treats Hung learned to bake with help from a family member in Taiwan. The eggy whole wheat bread ($2.50) makes magnificent, delicate toast, and the red bean bun (90 cents) is one variety of dozens of snacks, all made fresh each morning and usually gone by the end of the day. Yi Soon Bakery, 112 Brighton Ave., Allston, 617-254-3099. -- LEIGH BELANGER

Meat to market
Since 1925, artisans at Manhattan's Salumeria Biellese have been handcrafting sausages, cured meats, and French charcuterie. Founded by Italian immigrants, the shop now operates under third-generation partners Marc Buzzio, Paul Valetutti, and Fouad Al Shariff, who ship the meats to Boston. Everything from the rustic game links made from rabbit, duck, wild boar, and venison to the classic pistachio-studded mortadella is made on site. Some recipes, such as a veal sausage with raisins and grappa (the result of a night of drinking grappa and eating grapes), are totally original. Others, like merguez, a North African-style lamb sausage, are traditional. All pork products are made from naturally raised Berkshire pigs, a heritage breed known for outstanding flavor and rich marbling. Available at John Dewar & Co., 753 Beacon St., Newton, 617-964-3577 and 277 Linden St., Wellesley, 781-235-8322; Lionette's Market, 577 Tremont St., 617-778-0360; Salumeria Italiana, 151 Richmond St., 800-400-5916; or go to -- JONATHAN LEVITT

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