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Beyond Boston Avenue: Complete Guide to Nearby Supermarkets

Every once in a while the dining hall blues hit and leave us craving for food that has never seen the likes of a college campus. Luckily, the Medford-Somerville area abounds with grocers ranging from megastores like Shaws to small specialty markets like Dave’s Fresh Pasta in Davis. Below is a selection of markets around the area, ordered distance-wise from campus and all within a 30 minute trek from Davis Square.

Dave’s Fresh Pasta

This small, quaint grocer just off of Davis Square stocks a bountiful selection of fresh and local foods. A display case of artisan cheeses faces a prepped-foods counter arranged with Italian entrees such as meatballs in tomato sauce and salads. Fresh pastas are one of the highlights (you can actually see them stretching the dough behind the counter!) and so are the huge freshly prepared specialty sandwiches, which explains the line stretching out the door at lunch hour everyday. There is a decent (albeit somewhat pricy) selection of fresh produce, local cheeses (notably their freshly-made mozzarella), breads, and cured meats. The store has a bright atmosphere and the staff are very friendly. Dave’s also does catering.

81 Holland Street, Somerville (7 minute walk from Davis Square)

Tel: 617.623.0867

Monday-Friday 11:00-7:30, Saturday 11:00-6:00

Pemberton Farms & Garden Center

A mini-Whole Foods with lower prices best encapsulates the Pemberton Farms experience. A specialty grocer located about a 20 minute walk from school, Pemberton stocks many Whole-Food-esque items including fresh organic produce, dried fruits and nuts, cheeses and meats, breads and packaged specialty foods. At the prepared foods counter one can find sandwiches made to orderand Western entrees. Healthy options include a buffet-style salad bar and sushi, and less-healthy options include the huge dessert case stocked with by-the-slice-cakes, pastries, and cookies. In addition to consummables, Pemberton also boosts a gardening section and household items can be found at the back of the store.

2225 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge (7 minute walk from Davis Square)

Tel: (617) 491 – 2244

Monday – Friday 8AM – 9PM, Saturday 8AM – 8PM, Sunday 8AM – 8PM

Bob’s Italian Food Store

The first impression that hits when entering Bob’s Italian Food Store is the its vibrancy and liveliness. Employees greet customers as they walk through the door and gleefully cajoling back and forth to each other as they go about the day’s work. Indeed, this Italian  specialty grocer exudes with a “Italian-ness” reminiscent of an authentic, buzzling market scene. True to its name, Bob’s sells mostly Italian products with the focus on prepared foods, such as sandwiches (they have a fresh sandwich counter with a huge menu) and Italian entrees, and condiments such as sauces, cheeses and cured meats. A varied bread basket provides Iggy’s products and other rolls, and packaged foods such as pastas and sauces can also be found. Even if not out to shop, Bob’s a fun place to visit just for the atmosphere.

324 Main St, Medford (14 minute walk from Ellis Field)

Tel: 781-395-0400

Mon-Thur 9am-8pm, Fri-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 8am-7pm

Capone Foods

Capone Foods emanates an air of high class refinedness. Unlike the lively Bob’s, this Italian specialty store is neat, very organised, and quiet. The selection of cheese and cured meats aren’t as large as Bob’s, but Capone probably reigns in prepared Italian entrees and pastas. A huge variety of frozen pasta sauces are also available, along with various packaged goods including beans, dried pasta, and sweets. There isn’t much in terms of fresh produce, and the selection of breads and pastries also lacks variety, but judging from numerous positive reviews it seems that what Capone does (namely pastas) it does well.

2285 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge (7 minute walk from Davis Square)

Phone: 617-354-0599

Mon – Fr 8:30am – 7:00pm, Sat 10:00am – 6:00pm, Sun 12:00pm -6:00pm

Whole Foods

This chain market basically sells high-end (and higher price) versions of food items found in typical grocery stores. In addition, Whole Foods also has a large prepared-foods area featuring buffet-style salad and hot food bars, brick-oven pizza, sandwiches, and other Western entrees.

2151 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford (20 minute walk from Carmichael)

Tel: (781) 395-4998

Mon-Sun 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.


Forget caterpillar rolls, spider rolls and “spicy” maki. This speciality Japanese grocery and sushi joint is the real deal. This prim, fairly large market in Medford Square supplies all things Japanese: foods, stationary, movies, cooking appliances, you name it. In terms of edible items, Ebisuya carries some fresh Asian produce (such as taro, bamboo shoots, napa cabbage, etc.) and prepared foods (fresh mochi, Asian-style breads, Japanese entrees, sushi and sashimi at the sushi bar), but the focus definitely concentrates on packaged goods. Ebisuya’s aisles abound with instant noodles, rick crackers, Pocky sticks, Japanese chocolates, and much more to satisfy any Asian junk-food craving. In addition to snacks, the freezer section at the back also supplies frozen entrees and condiments such as miso, natto, and frozen stir-fries. One point worth noting is that because most of the goods are imported, Ebisuya’s goods gravitate towards the pricier end for grocery items.

65 Riverside Avenue, Medford (20 minute walk from Gantcher)

Tel:  781-391-0012

Mon-Fri 10am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 8pm, Sun 11:30am to 6:30pm


Typical grocery store selling typical grocery store goods. Nothing to laud about, but then again, it’s convenient and only a good 10-min walk from the Davis Square T.

49 White St, Cambridge (15 minute walk from Davis Square)

Tel: 617-492-5566

Open 24/7

Reliable Asian Market

Located in Union Square, Reliable is a Korean supermarket similar to H-Mart. The single fresh produce aisle sells Asian-favoured fruits (e.g. persimmons, Fuji apples, plump Korean grapes) and vegetables (e.g. taro, bean sprouts). However, the emphasis here is on packaged Korean foods such as cup noodles and snacks. A freezer section at the back of the store features marinated meats, live seafood, and a whole wall of kimchi. Some prepared foods (e.g. bimbimbap toppings, Korean rice cakes in spicy sauce) are present as well, but juxtaposed next to uncooked meats they raise the question of contamination. In addition, their looming expiration dates further cement Reliable’s status as more a packaged Korean foods stop than a fresh produce provider. Cooking appliances and utensils are also in stock.

45 Union Square, Somerville (12 min by bus from Davis, 40 min walking)

Tel: (617) 623-9620

Mon 10am-8pm; Tue-Fri 9:30am-8pm; Sat 9am-8pm; Sun 10am-7pm

– Article & Photos by Winnie Zhuang

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Brent #

    My friends and I are planning to organize a wine and cheese event during reading period. Which shop close to the Tufts has the best cheese selection for an event such as this? This would be a huge help!

    November 25, 2010

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