10 Specialty Grocery Stores near Boston to Help You Spice up Your Next Meal
Whether you’re after sweet capocollo or salmon sashimi, these local shops won’t disappoint.
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One of the great perks of city living is having an opportunity to experience all sorts of global cuisine. But it’s not just restaurants like JP’s Ethiopian eatery Blue Nile or the French favorite Deuxave, in the Back Bay, that make that possible: The region’s scores of specialty grocery stores also play an important role, delivering to Bostonians hard-to-find (but highly sought-after) ingredients and prepackaged fare from around the world. From sushi-slinging Japanese markets to meat-and-cheese filled Italian shops, here are 10 to explore the next time you need to restock your pantry.
This well-liked shop boasts something of a farmer’s market vibe, with an ample fresh produce section set just steps from the front door. If you can tear yourself away from the cactus pears and plucots, though, you’ll find a smorgasbord of Armenian and international foods stashed on the store’s shelves and racks. Jarred cabbage leaves in brine and bags of seasonings like mahlab and star anise mingle with packages of Ziyad honeycomb, phyllo pastry sheets, Bulgarian sheep’s cheese, and bottles of mint syrup. House-made eats, meanwhile, run the gamut from tempting tubs of apricot and rose jam, baba ganoush, and taboulee to tasty pastries like pistachio baklava.
585 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown.
Massis Bakery whips up all sorts of delicious baked goods—pita crisps, Armenian dry biscuits, bread sticks, and walnut-filled kataif pastries, to name a few—but it turns out that’s just part of the appeal of this Watertown institution. There’s plenty more to love about Massis, where you’ll discover Lebanese olive oil, homemade Greek yogurt with honey, tahini sesame paste, green almonds, tubs of pickled turnips, Persian ice cream, and lamb lahmejune, among other delicacies. Once you’ve filled your basket, head to the front counter and ask for some of the freshly made falafel that sits near the cash register—yet another of the shop’s pleasant surprises.
569 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, 617-924-0537, massisbakery.com.
The first thing you’ll notice about this family-owned Armenian and Middle Eastern shop, in business since 1984, is its self-serve olive bar. The eye-catching feature undoubtedly sets the tone for the rest of the L-shaped space, which boasts myriad tasty novelties (not the least of which is its assortment of baked treats) to suit all appetites. Orange-blossom water, containers of golden raisins and double-roasted chickpeas, frozen filo spinach-and-cheese pie, gigantic blocks of feta cheese, sweet house-made choreg rolls, and jars of pomegranate sauce are just the beginning of what Sevan has to offer.
599 Mt. Auburn St., Watertown, 617-924-3243, sevanboston.com.
Only open since 2021, Japanese grocery store and deli Maruichi is a relative newcomer to the Hub’s food scene. But what it lacks in seniority, it more than makes up for in selection. On top of a wide array of household goods, personal-care products, and cosmetics, provisions such as fresh wagyu ribeye, salmon sashimi, soybean flour, Japanese soft drinks, onigiri rice balls, hot sesame oil, and beautifully packaged udon noodles stand among the many items filling the immaculate shelves and refrigerated cases. Can’t find what you’re looking for? Try Maruichi’s sister store—Maruichi Select, which opened in 2020 and carries additional specialty items—across the street.
306 Harvard St., Brookline.
A muted red awning and a windowless steel door mark the back entrance to this Somerville store, which conveniently boasts its own parking lot. But don’t be fooled by Reliable’s no-frills exterior; it belies the many Japanese and Korean goodies you’ll find inside. Deceptively spacious, the store plays host to all the ingredients you’ll need to make a balanced meal: Nishiki brown rice, chilled tofu, dried Szechuan peppers, endless varieties of ramen, Tamari brewed soy sauce, fresh octopus, furikake seasoning, jars of kimchi, and so much more. Bonus points for Reliable’s extensive alcohol selection, which includes tons of must-try sake and local beers.
45 Union Square, Somerville, 617-623-9620.
If this massive Packard’s Corner highlight doesn’t inspire you to try your hand at Asian cuisine, nothing will. Step inside, and you’ll be greeted by aisle after aisle of raw ingredients and prepackaged foods from countries including China and Thailand (think: dried mushrooms, frozen dumplings, bottles of fish sauce, mung bean vermicelli, Mr. Kong juices, pork buns, and matcha cookie rolls). There’s also a sizable fresh meat and fish section, with options such as sliced pork belly, oxtail, and whole branzino, plus live lobsters and rock crabs. Need to stock up on cookware, ceramic bowls, or bamboo chopsticks? Super 88 carries those, too.
1095 Commonwealth Ave., Boston.
A corner store in every sense of the word, this tiny Indian and Pakistani shop at the intersection of Cambridge and Gordon Streets in Allston peddles a limited selection of basics such as whole and split lentils, jarred dates, mapte beans, canned lahori chanay, frozen naan, and milk yoghurt. But, as they say, good things come in small packages: With just three short aisles to browse, you’ll have plenty of time to swing by the shop’s popular halal meat counter—teeming with fresh cuts of lamb and goat, among other tasty proteins.
562 Cambridge St., Boston.
Taj Mahal Desi Bazaar
It’s hard to know which display to dig into first at this tidy Winter Hill shop, where fully stocked shelves brim with choices for empty bellies. Set beneath colorful packages of incense sticks, for instance, huge bags of staples like chana dal, toor, and kutto wait to be scooped up, while small bottles of rose water and spices, including green cardamom, panch puran, and garam masala, invite recipe ideas. Elsewhere, frozen samosas and flatbreads mingle in cases with Shezan mango juice boxes, Limca soda, and other cold drinks—perfect refreshments after a satisfying shopping spree.
274 Broadway, Somerville.
In a neighborhood filled with first-rate Italian restaurants and food stores, this North End hotspot stands out as a must-try for any budding home chef. Family-owned and operated for decades, Salumeria Italiana overflows with comestibles such as aged balsamic vinegar, Sicilian green olives, house-made sun-dried tomato pesto, imported pastas from regions such as Abruzzo and Sardinia, Illy espresso, and rosemary crostini. And did we mention the meat and cheese displays? Downright mouthwatering, courtesy of favorites including fennel soppressata, sweet capocollo, pecorino sardo, and Polenghi mascarpone.
151 Richmond St., Boston, 617-523-8743, salumeriaitaliana.com.
You’ll have to plan accordingly to visit this well-kept Hyde Park store and catering outfit, which closes on Sundays and Mondays, but adjusting your shopping schedule is sure to pay off. That’s because Tutto Italiano, founded by owner Angelo Locilento, carries everything you’d want from the Boot: specialty olive oils, all sorts of Italian wines, traditional pizzelle cookies, spicy sausages, marinated roasted peppers, and pounds of parmigiano reggiano, just for starters. Pro tip: Make sure you also order from the sandwich counter before you go. Made with freshly sliced deli meats like prosciutto di parma and mortadella and served on house-made bread, Tutto’s renowned subs are worth the trip on their own.
1889 River St., Boston, 617-361-4700, tuttoit.com.