where to find real ricotta and fresh bread?
A few months ago, I moved from the "Old World" to the Boston area. (My wife is American). We are moving closer to Boston (Middlesex) next week.
Over the past months I've tried many "American" food products. I've certainly enjoyed the grilled steaks, fresh corn and seafood meals, but beyond that it hasn't been a great "food" experience unfortunately.
I will not go into all that, but just focus on two items, cheese and bread.
I've bought ricotta in the supermarket, which turned out to be a completely different product than what I know as ricotta. Why do they label it ricotta if it's not ricotta? It doesn't even come close to ricotta. Same goes for mascarpone (another disaster) and many other "italian" products. Now that I went through that learning phase, I am left with one question: Where can I get real ricotta, mascarpone and so on (in the Boston area)?
I also have a hard time finding good fresh bread. Most breads are almost inedible and/or not fresh. It surprised me that customers seem to be ok with buying old bread! Many stores have "fresh" breads on the shelves that are over a day old! So, where to get good fresh "Old World" style breads in the Lexington area?
Have you been to Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge? Excellent cheese store. I also like that they carry C&R breads. You might want to do a taste test between C&R, Iggy's, Hi-Rise, Clear Flour and Nashoba Brook to find your particular style of bread choice.
Have you been to Salumeria Italiana? Lots of "Old World" imports.
Welcome! We buy very fresh bread at Wilson Farms, 10 Pleasant St., Lexington. They also have fresh cheeses. But really, you must go to the North End (Boston). There you will find Purity Cheese Co. on Endicott St. and J. Pace on Cross St. There are also several very good Italian bakeries on Hanover St. Just walking around there you will see many salumeria - it's truly an experience.
If you are in Lexington, basically, right next door is Waltham.... a wealth of little ethnic cubbyholes. My Sister-in-Law is from Italy and Finding ricotta was a big challenge. We discovered Salem Food Store at 468 Moody St, Waltham - 781-893-9874,,,BINGO!
Great fresh and creamy smooth... not at all like the supermarket garbage. THey also carry a large selection of imported meats and other products. Also on Main Street in Waltham is Domenics which has a legendary following on this forum for their sandwiches and homemade breads. To me, their bread is the real deal, although I don't believe they make them any larger than "sandwich" size (10 inches maybe)... I buy a 1/2 dozen or more a week and its my only bread. Not quite a hard crust, but airy, ethereal, with a great chew and taste. In the North End, Parziales' is the oldest bread bakery... and Bova's bakery is so, so for pastry, but I found their breads decent.
But I recommend for you to go to Salem Food Store and Go to Domenics for some of their breads and see what you think. As a bonus, Domenics eggplant is the closest thing I've had to my Italian family members..... its great. The litmus test in our family is if my sister-in-laws mother will eat it ... its got the approval of the Italian Saints. This woman won't eat anythng that's not her cooking. Uh, I almost forgot, there is a place in Lexington called Pasta Etc. Etc. owned by some Italian Families with great pizza and imported products as well. Good luck, there are some options in your area !
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I've only had Purity ricotta once. In all fairness, it was right before Easter a few years ago (busy time) - but it was so bad I never returned. The grocery store version (whole milk, of course, always) was better. In fact, I'd say that the whole milk ricotta they sold me was at least part skim.
Just spoke to a clerk at J. Pace's (North End store) a week ago - he told me that the original owner "sold out, about 1999." He wouldn't infer that the store wasn't as good as before, but my bad experience has kept me away.
I realize that's going back a bit (not in North End speak, tho), but I wondered whether they got their reputation from that original owner.
By the way - it is extremely easy to make ricotta at home, if you like to do that sort of stuff. Lots of directions on the internet. I did this one Christmas, when I ran out of ricotta & the closest stores were closed.