Belmont’s Abuzz

Are the city’s crowds coming for meatballs and house-made pasta at Il Casale, or maybe for the chance to get Mitt Romney’s signature coif at Leon and Co.? (Stylist Leon de Magistris has been cutting the presidential hopeful’s hair for decades.) Whatever the draw, this ’burb has really come into its own over the past few years. Craft beer, trendy clothing, fresh fish, and upscale home décor have all livened up Leonard Street.

Bells and Whistles of Belmont

Photo by Chelsea Kyle

Bells & Whistles
The theme of Kristyn Meech’s new home-accessories store is “life’s little extras” — because every modern abode needs a cowhide rug and a pink Oomph side table, n’est-ce pas? In-house graphic designer Danielle Stewart can create your wedding invitations, and soon, you’ll be able to register for gifts like herringbone throws and Juliska dishes, too. 68 Leonard St., 617-489-2500, bellsandwhistlesshop.com.

Marmalade shop of Belmont

Photo by Chelsea Kyle

Marmalade
Calling all magpies: Leigh Standley-DiBernardo’s bohemian gift boutique — originally intended as a showroom for her stationery company, Curly Girl Design — is brimming with eye-catching baubles from Robindira Unsworth and Wendy Mink, not to mention brightly colored bags and candles. Feeling inspired? Marmalade also offers craft classes like bookbinding and glass etching. 63 Leonard St., 617-484-0093, shopmarmalade.com.

Ranc's Ice Cream Belmont

Photo via iStockphoto

Rancatore’s
Cool your heels after a long day of retail therapy at Ranc’s (as it’s known to the locals). The beloved ice cream shop moved from its original location on Belmont Street to the town center in 2010, and business has been booming, says manager Helen Burgard. This summer, you can take your brown-cow frappe to go and kick back in one of owner Joe Rancatore’s four Fenway bleacher seats — which are bolted to the sidewalk outside. 36 Leonard St., 617-489-5090, rancs.com.

Craft Beer Cellar Belmont

Photo by Chelsea Kyle

Craft Beer Cellar
Hopheads come from near and far to browse as many as 950 craft beers — including an impressive selection from New England (Slum Brew! Jack’s Abby! Idle Hands!) — at this sudsy emporium owned by Cambridge Common alums Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker. Stop by on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings to meet brewers and sample their wares. 51 Leonard St., 617-932-1885, bostoncraftbeercellar.com.

Bessie Blue Belmont

Photo by Chelsea Kyle

Bessie Blue
Forget sweatpants — Lee Gaston and company carry jeans, sweaters, and T-shirts to take you through the week in style. “We want people to get out of yoga wear,” buyer Lone Rockstrom says. Gems on a recent afternoon included a pleated skirt from Eva Franco, a punchy printed dress by Sweet Pea, and edgy leather belts made with Brazilian agate. 21 Leonard St., 617-489-4900, bessieblue.com.

Cheat Sheet
Parking: Look for spots on Leonard Street and in the lot off of Claflin Street.
Dining: Housed in a handsome former fire station, chef Dante de Magistris’s Il Casale (50 Leonard St., 617-209-4942, ilcasalebelmont.com) is the crème de la crème of suburban dining. And the Cuban sandwiches at Gustazo Cuban Café (289 Belmont St., 855-487-8296, gustazo-cubancafe.com) are well worth the quick trip across town.
Off the Main Strip: Arlington hot spot Helena’s has brought its breezy sundresses and oversize sunglasses to a second location in Cushing Square (453½ Common St., 617-484-2550, ilovehelenas.com). And the newly opened Artefact (1000 Pleasant St., 617-993-3347, artefacthome.com) carries furnishings from established and emerging artisans alike.