Once a speakeasy during the Prohibition era of the 1920s, Stanza dei Sigari is currently a fabulous "old school" cigar bar. Located below the historic streets of Little Italy in Boston's North End, Stanza buzzes with the allure of its original underground setting.
As you enjoy a walk down the narrow sidewalks of Hanover Street enjoying the views of the pastry shops and numerous charming Italian restaurants, you would never know what lies beneath Hanover Street, if it were not for the huge cigar hanging above an archway. This entrance to Stanza is smack in the middle of the famous Caffe Vittoria, which happens to be Boston's first Italian cafe, established in 1929. Once you locate Caffe Vittoria, look for the wooden statue of a butler holding three cigar boxes in the foyer (unlike the traditional iconic wooden Indian associated with tobacco shops) and proceed down the steep, narrow staircase.
As you descend, the air of mystery thickens and you can't help but feel like you are about to enter a haven of immoral and illegal behavior. There are two doorway entrances to the lounge at the bottom of the stairs - one on the left, one on the right - which further adds to the thrill of the unknown. It truly doesn't matter which you choose, as once you enter you are embraced by the dimly lit smokiness and the air of sheer delight and good cheer. Entering the lounge at 11:30 PM on a Thursday night, I was not expecting a noisy packed house; however, I was pleasantly surprised and could not wait to grab a table for myself!
I slowly walked the floor to observe my Brothers and Sisters of the Leaf - small groups of fellas, small groups of ladies, a few couples - either indulging on a fine cigar or sharing a hookah. Televisions on the walls were all set to the Boston Red Sox baseball game (not surprising...but this born-n-raised-n-Brooklyn Yankee fan did not feel out of place at all). Prior to grabbing a table, I noted the large humidor cabinets at the back of the lounge, perfectly humidified and well-stocked with the finest cigar brands: Avo, Cohiba (Dominican, of course), Arturo Fuente, Ashton, Padron, Montecristo, La Flor Dominicana, La Gloria Cubana, Romeo y Julieta, and the Stanza dei Sigari house brand! There are pipes and vents running along the ceilings and the old exposed-brick walls are decorated with antiques, old cigar paraphernalia, and framed cigar bands - a true underground experience. In the center of the lounge, there is an old iron gate providing entry to a small private sitting area surrounded by private cigar lockers.
I found the perfect candlelit bistro table where I could sit with my back to the wall so that I could continue to observe our brethren and their interactions with the "Stanza Girls" who "are here seven days a week and dedicated to bringing you the best Cigar Bar experience in all of Boston". My "Stanza Girl" (who is not pictured on the website) was absolutely wonderful and the service was great. She presented two separate menus - one for cigars and hookah selections, the other for spirits (which was loaded with an exclusive selection of single malt scotches, bourbons, cognacs, ports, and rums). I ordered a neat glass of Talisker 10-Year and a Stanza house brand maduro robusto, which was stylishly served on a platter with a cutter and box of long wooden matches. There is a $5 "cutting fee" charged should you choose to bring your own cigars; however, I suggest the Stanza house brand - the robusto was medium- to full-bodied with heavy tobacco flavor and notes of burnt wood...surprisingly fantastic with my scotch!
Stanza is full of character. With a 1:00 AM closing time, I almost overstayed my welcome, as I was one of the last to leave. This cigar lounge is casual, yet warm, cozy, and inviting. My definite "go-to" spot whenever I'm in Boston. Check out their website www.stanzadeisigari.com.