Take a tour of Union Square Markets!
14 Bow Street | 617.629.2296 | www.caponefoods.com
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm; Sat, 10am-5pm; Sun, 12pm-5pm
Owners: Al Capone & Jennifer Hegarty
From: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Open since: 1985
Most customers are: Somervillians & restaurant buyers
What you’ll find: Fresh pasta, homemade sauces, prepared meals, desserts, cheeses.
In the back kitchen of Capone’s, a machine dubbed “the Extruder” is pumps out anywhere between 200–300 pounds of fresh pasta per day. Over 20 specialty pastas are available, including such enticing flavors as saffron, wild mushroom, squid ink and Jennifer Hegarty’s favorite: rosemary and garlic. Pair any one of these pastas with Capone’s homemade sauces; ask for the pairing chart, which suggests delicious combos. Most of the recipes at Capone’s were handed down from Al Capone’s mother, Nina, or developed by Al himself. The store also stocks an impressive selection of olive oils and vinegars, as well as make-your-own cannoli kits—serve them at your next dinner party and pretend you made them from scratch.
La Internacional Foods
318 Somerville Avenue | 617.776.1880
Hours: Mon – Sat, 8am-9pm; Sun, 9am-7pm
Owner: Nora & Byron Cabrera
Open Since: 1989
Most customers hail from: Haiti and Central and South America
What you’ll find: Plantains, rice, spices, fish and produce from Costa Rica and Columbia
Don’t miss: Assortment of dried chiles including pasilla, ancho and guajillo, and the small plastic bags of djon djon mushrooms from Haiti.
Customers come from as far away as Waltham, Mattapan and Malden for La Intercional’s broad selection of Latin American and Haitian goods—and great prices. The store has so many Haitian customers that Nora Cabrera says her son Byron has learned Haitian Kreyol just from talking with the clientele! Nora estimates that they sell a thousand 10-pound bags of rice each week. Check out the selection of spices, which includes numerous varieties of chili powder, including chile mulato and chile poblano. This is also the place to go for authentic tortillas, queso fresco and crema, as well as Salvadoran products like flor de izote and loroco. As for Haitian items, you’ll find rare djon-djon mushrooms, yams, yucca and drinks like cornmeal-based Akasan.
438 Somerville Ave. (by Market Basket) | 617.623.1786
Hours: Mon-Sat 8am-9:30pm; Sun 8am-8:30pm
Owners: Dipti and Umesh Mistri
From: Mumbai, India
Open since: 1983
Most customers hail from: Bangladesh, Pakistan and India primarily the Punjab region
What you’ll find: Spices, rice, fresh produce including bitter melon and daikon radishes
Don’t miss: Ladu (round sweet balls made of wheat, lentils, ghee and sugar)
Here you’ll find a wide assortment of rice, including both white and brown basmati and the aromatic sona masuri variety. The Mistris also sell spices galore, including mustard seed, pomegranate powder, amchoor powder (powdered green mango) and black and green cardamom. Ask Dipti Mistri about the medicinal value of spices and produce and she will offer you a wealth of information. For example, bitter melon is good for diabetes, and tumeric is excellent for colds and putting on cuts. Each October and November, Little India shoppers will also find sweet delicacies and decorations for Diwali, the Hindu New Year. The store also carries wine and beer, including many Indian brews.
New Bombay Market
359 Somerville Avenue | 617.623.6614
Hours: Daily, 9am-10pm
Open since: 2002; run by Hari since summer 2010
Most customers hail from: Nepal
What you’ll find: Spices, lentils, dal, pickles
Don’t miss: Sweet lapsi (dry hog plum), which grows all over Nepal
Here you will find specialties of Nepal, including different forms of sweet lapsi, a dried fruit also known as hog plum that is used in achars (pickles) and sweet spicy candy. While you’re there, take a whiff of the gorgeously fragrant spice timur, which looks like peppercorns and is used in achars. Better yet, buy some and experiment! The store also carries products like papadam, dal (udad, chana and moong varieties), gram flour (made from dal) and dried peas. The extensive spice collection includes star anise, amchoor powder and methi seed. Lamichhane explains that although over 80 percent of Nepal’s population is engaged in agriculture, it is often much cheaper to import products from India, which, unlike Nepal, is not landlocked. — Go here for a great recipe using timur: Tomato Timur Pickle.
Mineirão, One Stop Market
57 Union Square | 617.625.0022
Hours: Daily, 7am-10pm; Sunday: 8am-5pm
Owner: Francisco Silva
From: Minas Gerais
Open since: 2006
Most customers hail from: mostly Brazil
What you’ll find: Cured meats for feijoada, various forms of Açai (superfruit from Brazil’s rain forests), perfume and soccer shirts.
Don’t miss: pão de queijo (cheese bread) and coxinha (chicken dumplings)
In addition to fresh pão de queijo—addictive cheese puffs made with yucca flour rather than wheat flour— Little India also sells a frozen variety as well as a mix for making your own. Shoppers will also find kits to make feijoada, the undisputed national dish of Brazil. Originating from Bahia, in eastern Brazil it’s made with various pork products (sometimes beef products too) and black beans. The market sells prepared feijoada at its buffet every Saturday; be sure to have some farofa (which has a consistency of farina cereal and is made from manioc/cassava flour) on the side. Also consider sampling Guarana, Brazil’s popular, highly caffeinated soda.
45 Union Square | 617.623.9620
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9.30am-9pm; Sat, 9am-9pm; Sun, 10am-7pm
Owner: Pokye Casserly
From: South Korea
Open since: 1982
Most customers hail from: Korea, Japan, China, and Somerville
What you’ll find: Bulgoki (thinly-sliced beef or pork marinated in salty/sweet sauce), prepared kimchee pancakes (made with spicy cabbage), seaweed laver for sushi, frozen gyoza
Don’t miss: A staggering selection of sake, rice, noodles and kimchi—and pocky sticks! Shopping at the Reliable Market is like a vicarious trip to Asia. The shelves are laden with exotic products with labels in many Asian languages. The produce is inexpensive and fresh. Fresh Asian staples such as daikon radish, scallions, ginger, tofu and Asian pears are always on hand. Aisle two has rice toppings galore including bonito (salty fish) flakes, wasabi and rice crackers . Reliable also has an entire aisle dedicated to kimchi, a mind-boggling array of noodles and rice, sashimi-grade fish, a great pocky stick selection and elegant and utilitarian crockery. — For certified sake expert Richard Auffey’s sake recommendations, go here: Sake 101 at Reliable.
Ricky’s Flower Market
238 Washington Street | 617.628.7569 | www.rickysflowermarket.com
Hours: 7am-7pm, daily
Open since: 1990
In this former gas station, owner Ricky DiGiovanni oversees a bustling nursery selling flowers, vegetables and herbs. All the plants are grown in Massachusetts, and choices include honeydew melon, white eggplant and a broad spectrum of tomatoes, from Early Girl to Black Krim. The herb selection is also huge and includes orange mint, lemon mint, sorrel and spicy globe (Greek) basil. DiGiovanni says he often stocks items on request; a recent example is Portuguese kale.
Union Square Farmers’ Market
Union Square Plaza | 617.955.0080 | unionsquaremain.org/food/farmers-market/
Hours: Sat 9 am – 1pm; June through November
Organizers: Union Square Main Streets and the City of Somerville
Running since: 2005
Most customers hail from: Somerville
What you’ll find: Organic and local vegetables, fruits, meats and cheeses, all cultivated and produced in Massachusetts
Don’t miss: The new products and vendors at the market this year, including cheeses from Robinson Farm, meats from Hollis Hills Farm and Misty Brook Farm and raw uncut oysters from Shady Oaks Farm, not to mention Culinary Cruisers mobile, bike-powered snack carts.
The Union Square Farmers’ Market transforms what was once a sleepy weekend morning to a weekly block party! Each weekend, approximately 2,000 people visit the square in search of Massachusetts-produced goods ranging from baby bok choy and misuna to fresh mozzarella and raw oysters. “Our farmers tell us that this is their most profitable farmers’ market,” says Mimi Graney, executive director of Union Square Main Streets. “The farmers also tell us that the people who come to this market really know their food.”
Food producer section
561 Windsor St. B-206 | 617.284.6096 | ehchocolatier.com
Hours: By appointment only, or order online
Owners: Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney
Open since: 2011
Most customers hail from: Greater Boston area
What you’ll find: Artisan chocolates
Don’t miss: Chocolate-making classes (see their website for details) Many years ago Elaine Hsieh and Catharine Sweeney came together to create a wedding cake for a mutual friend. Baking together was a great experience , but at the time, they were immersed in other careers. But in 2011, the duo launched a chocolate company and started making confections full-time—handcrafted bon bons often tinged with spices and teas. These Somerville-based chocolatiers use top-notch ingredients for their artful chocolates, including Michel Cluizel and Valrhona chocolate from France, as well as Taza chocolate, the business conveniently located next door! You can purchase their products online (delivery or pick-up) or at the following stores: Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge; South End Formaggio in Boston; City Feed and Supply in Jamaica Plain; Fastachi in Watertown; and Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Somerville.
Fiore di Nonno
561 Windsor Street | www.fioredinonno.com
Hours: Sat. 9am-1pm
Owner: Lourdes Smith
From: New Jersey
Open since: 2005
What you’ll find: Small-batch mozzarella made fresh daily, string cheese, stracciatella, burrata
Don’t miss: Mascarpone Burrata, a combination of Italian mascarpone cheese and Greek yogurt wrapped in fresh mozzarella
As a child, owner Lourdes Smith adored her Italian grandfather’s store, Fiore’s of Hoboken. Inspired by memories of his fresh mozzarella, Smith tested batch after batch until she rediscovered the perfect recipe. Now a thriving business that supplies restaurants, retailers and farmers’ markets throughout the Boston area, Fiore di Nonno not only produces superb mozzarella but also string cheese and rich, soft stracciatella, made with fresh cream and strings of mozzarella curds. Thanks to Smith’s experiments with bold, sweet and savory flavoring, you’ll also find that Fiore di Nonno now makes burrata with mascarpone- and yogurt-based fillings such as Fig, Honey Lavender & Chili, and Za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice mixture.
561 Windsor Street | 617.284.2232 | www.tazachocolate.com
Hours: Thu-Fri 2pm-4pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm
Owners: Alex Whitmore, Larry Slotnick, & Kathleen Fulton
From: United States
Open since: 2006
Most customers hail from: United States
What you’ll find: Organic, stone-ground Mexican chocolate
Don’t miss: Salt and Pepper Chocolate Mexicano
A bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturer, Taza is an eco-friendly, community-centric business that uses a traditional Mexican stone grinding technique to produce rich, intense chocolate. Committed to fair trade, Taza imports its beans directly from growers in the Dominican Republic and its sugar from Green Cane Project, a Brazilian organic company. Taza’s Mexicano chocolate comes in wide variety of flavors, from the sweet-salty smoothness of Salted Almond to the smoky-fruity heat of Chipotle Chili. Don’t miss their plain dark chocolate either—ranging from 60% to 87% cocoa content, the bars have a powerful and complex taste that combines wonderfully with the rustic, grainy texture that is the trademark of all Taza chocolate. Their periodic chocolate factory tours are not to be missed!