Somerville’s Feeding Frenzy
The 'Ville has become the place for food lovers, with a slew of exciting new eateries that have raised the bar for Boston's dining scene. So what's behind this rapid influx of restaurants? A perfect storm of factors.
The Demographics: The city has a higher percentage of young people (ages 20 to 34) than the broader region and state, according to a 2009 report by? Somervilleâ€™s Office of Strategic Planning. Somervilleâ€™s population density is also the highest in New England. Add it all up and youâ€™ve got a lot of young, educated, and hungry people packed into a very small area.
The Bang for the Buck: â€śPound for pound, youâ€™re getting more value for your dollar in Somerville,â€ť says local butcher Michael Dulock, who looked into spaces in the South End and Cambridge before settling on Union Square for his forthcoming shop, M. F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats. Thatâ€™s especially true for businesses that serve booze â€” liquor licenses in Somerville are a steal compared with Boston. Magoun Square barbecue newcomer East End Grill, for example, recently procured a full license for $125,000. The same license in Boston could go for as much as $450,000.
The Can-Do Spirit: Restaurateurs say that officials in Somerville are refreshingly accessible â€” unlike in Boston, the land of red tape. Casa B co-owner Angelina Jockovich recalls the process of opening her Union Square tapas spot: â€śWe sent an e-mail to the mayorâ€™s office, and they called within 24 hours to set up a meeting.â€ť Joe Cassinelli, owner of Posto and the Painted Burro, says he knows â€śall the ladies who work the desks at City Hall. People are really nice, and thatâ€™s why things get done.â€ť
The Indie Appetite: Somerville has a thriving food subculture thatâ€™s bolstered by the organization Union Square Main Streets. The community group puts on the annual Fluff festival as well as a popular farmersâ€™ market and the new hipster-picnic fantasy that is Swirl & Slice â€” an evening market featuring wine, cheese, cured meats, breads, jams, pickles, and more. The Somerville Arts Council, meanwhile, offers â€śmarket toursâ€ť of off-the-beaten-path ethnic stores such as Caponeâ€™s, La Internacional Foods, and Little India.
A Timeline of the Somerville Restaurant Boom:
Highland Kitchen ups the cityâ€™s hip factor with quality yet casual fare â€” spicy goat stew, cult-fave fried chicken â€” and craft cocktails.
Trinaâ€™s Starlite Lounge opens and immediately establishes itself as a restaurant-industry hot spot. Posto begins offering authentic Neopolitan-style pizzas and house pastas.
Journeyman debuts its avant-garde locavore cuisine. Foundry on Elm becomes a favorite local watering hole, and Bergamotâ€™s thoughtful bistro fare is met with raves.
Globally inspired pub Five Horses Tavern (its short-rib-and-pepper taco is pictured below) opens, followed by the old-school tavern Saloon, the quirky Three Little Figs bakery, and the Latin tapas restaurant Casa B. The areaâ€™s craft-cocktail scene is also solidified thanks to Backbar, from the team behind Journeyman.
Postoâ€™s Joe Cassinelli goes Mexican with the Painted Burro. Jason Owens, of South Boston gourmet-food shop American Provisions, opens inspired southern restaurant M3.
Forthcoming concepts include barbecue joints the Bearded Pig and East End Grill; high-end butchery M. F. Dulock Pasture-Raised Meats; the German- and Austrian-focused Bronwyn; Peruvian restaurant La Brasa; â€™80s-themed cocktail bar Daddy Jones; and Washington, DC, import Amsterdam Falafelshop. â€” Leah Mennies
Source URL: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/2012/06/somerville-feeding-frenzy/