Italian immigrants Frank and Mary Napoli began a new life in America in 1898 when they purchased 40 acres of land to harvest vegetables, poultry, and eggs. With their three sons in tow, the Napolis began a pushcart delivery business that evolved into a produce stand dubbed Idylwilde. Nearly 90 years later, that small-town stand has blossomed into a booming grocery business run by a third generation of Napoli brothers. Together, the trio designed the current store, which was built in 1985 from 100 tons of ash and pine and includes a Dutch barn and greenhouse.
From beneath the wood rafters and high ceilings of Idylwilde's store, carts of fresh, seasonal produce such as cape cod cranberries, english peas, and squash glisten under the lights. The deli houses the farm's own freshly made turkey burgers and daily delivered Scottish salmon, as well as Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef and Boar's Head meats. In the bakery, fresh-baked breads and jumbo cookies fill the air with the sweet scent of the hearth. Joining Idylwilde's proprietary stash of goods are items from other well-known vendors, such as Hogan Brothers coffee and Silver Cloud Estates spices, as well as special dietary foods including gluten-free breads. The market also carries an extensive stock of craft beer and wines ready for pairing with gourmet New England cheeses from their enviable pantry.
James Alexander Wilson, W.M. Wilson, and their brother-in-law George Reynolds traveled from Enniskillen, Ireland in 1884 to establish Wilson Farm. Once settled in Lexington, the trio bought 16 acres of land and rented nearby farmland to start harvesting a variety of produce. Since then, their farm has been passed down through the generations and undergone a number of expansions, with a farm stand built in 1952 and an 8,500-square-foot barn and 37,000-square-foot greenhouse built in 1996.
Today, the farm harvests more than 125 crops year-round, which range from asparagus to zucchini, and it also carries farm-fresh milk and eggs, freshly caught fish, and homemade baked goods. The garden center and open-air nursery flourish with flowers as fresh as a newborn in parachute pants, as well as vegetable starters and spring bulbs, planting containers, and fertilizers.
Through open-water certifications and more specialized SSI scuba-diving courses at Northeast Scuba, aquatic wanderers of all experience levels explore New England waters and marine life. Their certified instructors often begin with introductory courses to immerse newcomers in the sport and give them the skills to nap in the bathtub. Specialty courses, such as wreck diving, night diving, and underwater photography, further immerse certified students in local underwater worlds. For those interested in teaching, the school also provides instructor training to SSI, TDI, and Shamu standards.
In addition to regular classes, dive instructors also organize group diving trips to local sites and far-flung waters, where on-staff underwater photographers document dives. Dive-shop staff members also rent or sell the requisite equipment for a range of underwater excursions from manufacturers such as DUI, Henderson, Akona, and Fourth Element and also repair and maintain components.
Before you even get inside, Russo’s assaults the senses with a colorful spread of its bounty. Fresh fruit, veggies, flowers, and plants line baskets and bins, waiting patiently to be scooped up and carried home or lobbed at a rival landscaper. Inside, the temptations only get stronger as local eggs and milk, cured and fresh meats, and imported and domestic cheeses call out to browsing shoppers. It’s all in homage to founder Antonio Russo, who blazed the trail for neighborhood grocers more than 75 years ago. That’s when he first peddled the fresh tomatoes, lettuce, and beans he grew in his own garden to local shoppers. Today, his namesake store honors Russo’s legacy by selling only the freshest meats, produce, and groceries—both to individual customers and popular Boston restaurants. The shop's personal ties to local farmers and manufacturers mean everything, from bok choy and mushrooms to the bakery’s bread ingredients, arrives as fresh as the day it was imagined into being by a distracted third grader. Russo’s also caters parties with upscale hors d’ouevres, fruit platters, and hot entrées.
The Meat Spot has had plenty of time to perfect the art of hand-trimming a filet mignon—it’s been in business for more than 80 years. In that time, it's earned a reputation as a purveyor of high quality, custom-butchered meats, selling only beef, lamb, chicken, and pork that is graded choice or higher, and cutting each order to the fit the customer's specifications or the shape of their favorite state. But Meat Spot's expertise isn't limited to crown roasts or sirloin strips––during its eight decades in business, the shop's inventory has expanded to include everything from cold cuts and cheeses, to spice rubs and marinades, to crackers and pastas. They keep their ovens fired up, too, baking fresh bread, coffee cakes, and cookies and cooking up a variety of prepared foods to accompany their made-to-order salads and sandwiches made with Boar's Head deli meats.
Melt Cafe and Gelato Bar grounds its recipes and preparation techniques in Italian tradition, creating desserts that are low in both fat and calories. The franchise encompasses brick-and-mortar storefronts and kiosks across five states. In each, staffers craft the classic whipped Italian ice cream, gelato, in more than 30 flavors such as cappuccino, pistachio, and swiss chocolate. Dessert cups also brim with silky-soft sorbetto, which is made entirely from sugar and fresh fruits. Though Melt focuses on frozen treats, it also lives up to the café portion of its name with hearty panini sandwiches and sweet or savory crepes. Tuscan-style espresso and drip coffee wash down bites of food and give you the energy to finish that screenplay about the lost dog who, by finding his owner, also finds himself.