Where to get great tomatoes?
- Dan Aug 17, 2001 10:17 AM
I'm not yet at the end of my first year in Boston so I still haven't scoped out the best places to get fresh produce in season. Tomato time is fast approaching--does anyone know where to get the best non-greenhouse tomatoes in Boston?
My wife and I make the short trek to Wilson Farms in Lexigton(right off of Rt.2. They have the best produce that I have come across in the Boston Area.
For consistency, variety and quality, you must hurry to the venerable institution of Verrill Farms in Concord if you can. The earlier in the day, the better, of course. They have more than a dozen varieties of tomatoes at any given time, often good (as opposed to merely interesting) heirloom varieties. And their other produce (e.g., corn usually in three varieties, on ice if you get there early enough) is wonderful as well. It's the only place I know of where I can get genuine new potatoes (not red bliss, but ones whose skin is as frail as tissue paper) with consistency.
Oh, and their bakery and grocer items are wonderful, to boot....
And it's a lot less chaotic than the zoo at Wilson Farms, which certainly has more breadth but often less depth.
I would have to disagree w/ Verill Farms. They used to be GREAT when you could pick your own but I find the quality has gone way down hill. I am glad you have had better luck that I :) I go to my faithful Wilson Farms almost every weekend. I consistently get great produce everytime I go.
You didn't really say what part of Boston you are in, or how mobile you are. There are some farmer's markets set up around town on various days, but the prices tend to be ridiculously high.
If you are out in the 'burbs, there are numerous small farms and farm stands-- especially around Natick, Milford, Marlboro, Chelmsford, places like that. Also some of the bigger farms, like Wilsons do OK, but aren't always selling their own produce.
Closer to town you might even try the venerable Kay's Fruit on Mt Auburn Street in Watertown.
The VERY best place is Russo's on Pleasant Street in Watertown. They always have the very best of vegatables and low prices. I find the produce there is MUCH better and cheaper than Wilson's. It can get a little crowded at times. Check out their website at www.arusso.com Their main business is supplying the better restaurants in the Boston area.
I agree - Russo's is great...
I also recommend the farmer's markets but unfortunately, many places don't allow you to pick your own produce, which leaves you holding the bag...filled with lower quality pieces. If you are cooking the tomatoes, buy all means, go to the markets for volume.
If you are eating them raw, go with Russo's.
(Down with Bread and Circus!)
These are a couple of the Farmer's Markets around town. The full list is at the link below at Massgrown.org
City Hall Plaza
Boston City Hall Plaza (Government Center)
Monday and Wednesday, 11:00 am - 6:00 pm
Copley Square, along St. James Ave.
Tuesday and Friday, 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Boston Center for the Arts plaza. Corner of Tremont and Clarendon Streets.
Wednesday, 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm
You didn't really say what part of Boston you are in, or how mobile you are.
As mobile as I need to be to get good tomatoes!
Thanks for all of the responses from everybody. I went to Wilson's this past weekend and was reasonably impressed with their produce, including the tomatoes. Of the tomatoes I bought, the German Striped was probably the best. Sweeter than most other tomatoes I've had. I started eating with with my usual tomato treatment--s&p, olive oil, and a little balsamic--but it was so sweet that the sweetness of the balsamic was too much.
I'm planning on trying Russo's and Verill Farms next to see who really has the best.
If you come to Verrill's, come a little further west on Route 2 and get off at exit 34 and just keeping taking rights (I think there are 2 or 3) but it will bring you to Mechanic Street in Leominster and just ahead on the right, you will see Gove Farm - not far off the highway. I have had Verrill Farm's tomatoes, Wilson Farms', etc and I will put Gove Farm tomatoes against any of them (although they are all extremely good). Paul Gove has trophies on the wall from his tomatoes. While you're there, buy his corn. There is none better. He has been written up in magazines about his corn. Drop it in boiling water, take it off the heat and let it sit for 3-5 minutes covered. Enjoy!
The state-wide Tomato competion was held last week in Natick ... if I can find the results on line I'll post them, but I recall this much - Ward's Berry Farm, Sharon, MA, nearly swept it - first place for Heirlooms (Black Krim), 3rd place for Cherry's, 2nd place for Slicing Tomato (with a bold choice of entering a yellow tomato, Lemon Boy), a couple of others I can't recall. Visit their farm stand (just off exit 8 on 95 between Boston & Providence). They're open 8-8, 7 days - an awesome place for foodies (errr, I mean chowhounds). They encourage you to taste anything - many tomato varieties on disply (& check out the pile of trophies from past years' competitions). Sweet corn often picked several times a day, varieties identified (usually offer one bicolor & one white). Seasonal pick-your-own produce (peaches now, pumpkins soon). An awesome place .....