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.
Visitors to Tabrizi Bakery are in for a rare treat, or treats, as the case may be. Owner Mohammad Tahmili was born in Tabriz, and grew up in Tehran, all the while immersed in the family business: baking. Today at his own bakery, Mohammad sticks to family recipes passed down through many generations, giving visitors a chance to try Iranian baked goods they may never have heard of before. For example, clover-shaped cookies––called "nokodi"––owe their melt-in-your-mouth texture to chic pea flour, while baklava gets a Persian-style twist with a filling made of pistachios, honey syrup, and rosewater. There's traditional Greek baklava too, alongside small, soft, honey-dipped pastries known as "bami" and decadent pastries such as cream puffs, napoleons, and feather-light sponge cakes. Also on display is a selection of imported groceries, from specialty oils and nuts, to packages of Turkish delight candy. The bakery also uses fresh cream to create from-scratch cakes, perfect those celebrating a special event, whether it be a birthday, an anniversary, a wedding, or a forgiven library fine.
Five decades ago, Kirio Pantelis wheeled a wooden cart around Kalamata, Greece, peddling syrupy sweets to locals. Today, his son and daughter-in-law oversee the American patisserie and café that evolved from these humble roots, nestled in both Brookline and Brighton. The bakery pays homage to its heritage with walnut-studded cakes and tarts that echo back to communal baking in wood-burning Greek ovens, though the shop draws from all over Europe for luxurious ingredients such as chocolate genoise, poached Turkish apricots, and Belgian cocoa. Puffed éclairs, petits fours, and fruit tartlets evoke the patisseries of Paris, and the bakery’s from-scratch gelato transports tasters to Italy without the hassle of concentrating hard enough to teleport.
Along with these sugary delicacies, the Brighton location also dishes up savory, Mediterranean-inspired fare at a café with marble tabletops and loft ceilings. Diners here fork into cold poached salmon, munch on paninis layered with gruyere or house orange-scented sausage, and savor cold sandwiches filled with roasted pancetta.
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.
Uncommon Grounds is more than just a gathering place for Watertown’s residents—it’s also a place where Watertown’s locally produced foods come together in the form of creative breakfast and lunch dishes. Nashoba Brooks Bakery and Russo’s Produce are just a few Watertown producers the chefs tap for ingredients to produce their delectable dishes. Fluffy lemon ricotta pancakes—infused with fresh lemon zest and ricotta cheese—are a big crowd pleaser with early-risers, as are the caprese breakfast sandwiches, which cradle strips of applewood bacon, smoked gouda cheese, and layers of pesto mayo between slices of ciabatta bread. That sort of creativity carries over to the coffee menu, where diners can choose from candy- and- dessert-themed lattes, such as the Almond Joy, the Milky Way, and the Cinnamon Bun brew, any of which is sure to awaken your inner child and exhaust its babysitter. Of course, Uncommon Grounds also keeps the spirit alive well into the lunch hour, doling out hot Panini sandwiches, burritos, and burgers.
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