A greenhouse is a place for things to thrive—plants, flowers, miniature golf courses. Perhaps the last item in that group isn't as conventional as the first two, but at Trombetta's Farm, it's perfectly normal. The Marlboro location's 18-hole course snakes players across bridges, through tunnels, and past a trickling, hand-built waterfall, all beneath the sun-splashed roof of a greenhouse. Sticking with its green theme, Trombetta's Farm doubles as a garden center, showcasing vibrant annuals, perennial shrubs and trees, and herb and vegetable plants from local growers. Hanging baskets and gift plants also brighten the space. During visits, guests can even cool off by snacking on homemade ice cream, which Trombetta's has been crafting since 1978. The shop's diary specialists churn out 10 flavors of soft serve and several varieties of frozen yogurt.
Helmed by owner and pastry chef Kristen Livoti, the skilled baking team at BellaCakes creates customized cakes and cupcakes to wow guests at weddings and other special occasions. Livoti opened the boutique shop in 2008, after graduating from cooking school in Edinburgh and working as a pastry chef in New England. Now, from within their flour-filled kitchen, she and her team transform nearly any idea into a frosting-covered creation, such as cakes designed as castles, complete with turrets and grumpy handmaidens locked inside, to wedding cakes topped with vintage roses or fondant hand-painted seashells. In addition to being a nut-free shop, BellaCakes also specializes in accommodating customers with dietary restrictions by making vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free cakes and cupcakes.
Bistro Bakery & Deli's artisanal flour specialists whip up batches of freshly baked goods to stock its hearty breakfast, lunch, bakery, and catering menus. Dive face-first into the gravitational pull of the more than 20 bagel varieties, including asiago cheese, spinach-garlic, and pumpernickel ($0.79 each; $7/dozen). Crying stomachs are serenaded with the savory tunes of the Bistro B.L.T. ($5.59) and the Tuscany salad ($5.99), and lonely hands can temporarily embrace the raspberry-chipotle-chicken wrap ($6.99) or the veggie delight ($5.79), which complements marinated artichoke hearts with roasted red peppers and provolone. The culinary artists at Bistro Bakery & Deli also proffer a selection of custom-designed cakes ($18.99+) crowned in a cappuccino mousse, pistachio buttercream, chocolate ganache, or Vanilla Ice sound bites.
Steeped in centuries of rich tradition, Italian cuisine relies on quality ingredients and simple preparations to yield beautifully bold flavors. Since 1983, the chefs of Nello’s Cafe have drawn on such traditions to fill their extensive menu with Old-World staples such as lasagna and seafood diavolo, which they serve alongside burgers and other American fare.
Nashoba’s owners and baker bromantics, Stuart Witt and John Gates, make everything in their breadbasket with a special slow-rise method. Each loaf rises slowly over the course of 24 hours, fueled by a unique starter developed by co-owner Stu that produces a profoundly pillowy texture and a beautiful, glossy, full head of crust. Every day, hundreds of these mesmerizing loaves float out into the world from Nashoba's 32,000-pound French-made bread oven like so many doughy dandelion spores buoyed by a warm, yeasty breeze. And each of Nashoba’s plethora of riseable dough varieties can take you someplace different. Transport yourself to shores lapped by wine-dark Mediterranean waters with an olive loaf ($5.50), or trick nearby turkeys into roasting, basting, and slicing themselves with a too-toothsome-to-resist rosemary garlic breadball ($4.45). Trek to an oasis of thick, chewy dates on the camel’s back of a seven-grain ($5.50), and avenge the pigeons that killed your father with pieces from a sourdough loaf laced with combustively spicy pepper jack ($4.10).
Inspired by her passion for creating decadent treats for her friends and family, baker Gloria Castaño opened Sweet Creations by Gloria as a way to share her signature desserts with others. From these modest beginnings, her bakery has risen in popularity and earned local renown for its made-from-scratch cakes and pastries. Though Gloria’s specialty lies in traditional Hispanic confections, she can just as easily recreate recipes from other cultures or accommodate dietary restrictions with vegan and gluten-free ingredients. A frequent shopper at the local farmers' market, Gloria fills her customizable cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops with fresh fruit whenever possible and slathers buttercream icing on bland stalks of broccoli.