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Cheese Shops, Formaggio Kitchen, Others?

Suze123 Feb 6, 2009 11:53 AM

Looking for some good cheese (missing my Murrary's back in NYC). I googled and found Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. Any others? Do you have a favorite?

Must be T-accessable or (in the case of Formaggio) an easy bus ride. Thanks!!

  1. tatsu May 14, 2010 09:29 AM

    Ihsan Gurdal, the owner of Formaggio Kitchen, is a chevalier in the French order of “Mérite Agricole.” So he's a cheese knight. That's pretty much the end all be all. This article explains and lists several others chevaliers. (There is a Belgian beer chevalier in D.C. I might add, Bill Catron, Beer Sommelier, Brassiere Beck.) Knighthood is pretty cool, remembering my own investiture in a different order, fun.


    I think one poster's mention that he does not stock a lot of local cheese is a fair comment to make however.

    Formaggio does get busy, but the counter staff are always pleasant and I can never stump them, love it. Last time I went in, I pretended to be a n00b and casually asked "HEY! What's the best cheese you got?!" The staffer simply pointed to a newish import and said "Gruyere Grand Cru, want a sample?" without missing a beat.

    The not so well known saturday sidewalk BBQ makes up for the weekend chaos. It's likely one of the top 5 BBQ, although it's been a very long time that I've tried it.

    Formaggio Kitchen
    244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

    1 Reply
    1. re: tatsu
      m51971 Jul 30, 2010 07:23 PM

      As a life long resident of Cambridge I believe Formaggio Kitchen is the be all of cheese shops in the US. Hands down the selection can not be beat. Wine & Cheese Cask can't compare. The staff at Formaggio are much friendlier, and for a Cambridge store that is amazing (Cambridge isn't really know for 'friendly' - I can attest to that being a native of Cambridge). Whole Foods for a mass market is a good alternative and the River Street or Alewife spots I find pretty even in quality. Most likely being in Cambridge forces them to be a bit higher in quality than those in the 'burbs.

      Formaggio Kitchen
      244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

    2. s
      ShelT54 Jun 17, 2009 02:29 PM

      Wasik in Wellesley

      1. i
        icedtea Jun 16, 2009 05:47 PM

        There are Cheese Shops in Concord and Wellesley

        1. z
          Zatan Jun 16, 2009 05:11 AM

          Formaggio indeed....I only go the South End one, it's a bit tight and gets very busy, but they know their stuff and it's amazing.

          I haven't been in some time, but Wasik's in Wellesley is really solid too. They are knowledgeable, age their cheeses to perfection in their cellar, and are friendly to boot. Probably not worth the effort using public transport though it's possible, esp. if you can get to Formaggio.

          Depending on who's there, the cheese department at Whole Foods in Brighton can be very good too. It is hit-or-miss though, some of the staff don' really know their cheeses very well.

          I checked out Publick House Provisions for their bread and cheese. They have some interesting things, but the staff there are clueless about the foods and don't seem to want to sell them. It's all about the beer....

          Last week was in NYC and stopped at Union Square Market. There were several cheesemakers there, I picked up a couple of things from Bobolink Dairy, they had three cheeses and several breads, top notch. I wish more local cheesemakers would hit the markets here in the Boston area.....

          3 Replies
          1. re: Zatan
            yumyum Jun 17, 2009 01:14 PM

            I love Bobolink Dairy's stuff -- have ordered it for home delivery.

            Locally I'm also enjoying the selection at Dave's Fresh Pasta if I just want something NOW. They often have discounts on cheese that is a day or two away from walking out the door. Just how I like it. :-)

            1. re: yumyum
              tsackton Jun 17, 2009 01:38 PM

              While I often buy cheese at Dave's (since I live in the neighborhood), their selection is pretty small (albeit generally quite good). Certainly a great option to have nearby, but (at least for their cheese selection) I wouldn't really consider it worth a special trip. The pasta and house-made sauces, on the other hand, I would definitely go out of my way for.

              1. re: tsackton
                yumyum Jun 18, 2009 07:15 AM

                Agreed -- the cheese case is not worth a trip on its own. Add in the pasta and sauces, B+R breads, fresh fish on Thursdays, awesome sandwiches and the carefully edited wine selection and I think any hound would be happy to shop at Dave's.

          2. BostonZest Feb 6, 2009 04:58 PM

            You have a great list here. Don't forget that Formaggio South End too. You can walk from the Green or Orange lines and it's close to the Silver line.

            I buy a lot of cheese at the Whole Foods on River Street and that is on a bus line.

            Formaggio is one of the best cheese shops in the country. I think they are one of only three affineurs in the US.

            If you look at lists of places to buy cheese online, they will near the top of everyone's list. They also have lots of good reference information on their site. But there is nothing like being there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BostonZest
              galleygirl Feb 6, 2009 05:16 PM

              I would rate the cheese department at the Whole Foods at River Street higher than the Fresh Pond branch. Also, the Charles River Park store is a pinch smaller, but they tend to get in more high end, aged cheeses than the others do...

            2. Food4Thought Feb 6, 2009 04:36 PM

              Not having the breadth of some of the others mentioned, but Fresh Cheese on Endicott in the North End. Easily accessible from the Haymarket or North Station stops

              2 Replies
              1. re: Food4Thought
                hotoynoodle Jun 16, 2009 05:30 AM

                also pace right around the corner and harry's on blackstone st. not a million different kinds, but very good.

                1. re: hotoynoodle
                  9lives Jun 17, 2009 05:39 AM

                  I think FK is clearly the leader..probably 1 of the top cheese shops in the country. I sometimes hit Salumeria italiana, Pace's or Harry's.

                  Harry's sometimes has some very ripe cheeses at ridiculously low prices..$2 for a cheese I see for $10+ at Savenor's..bought a nice ripe Lincet recently. In addition to buying from the shelves where I can see, I always ask if he has anything "interesting" and usually he has a few things in the fridge case.

              2. r
                rscolao Feb 6, 2009 03:20 PM

                Russo's in Watertown ain't bad.

                1 Reply
                1. re: rscolao
                  rlh Jun 17, 2009 10:06 AM

                  Not bad, but not consistent or cheap either - they don't always store, cut, wrap the cheeses as well as FK or even Whole Foods at Fresh Pond. There is at least one very friendly, helpful guy there and they will provide tastes of pretty much anything if requested (as will the other two I mentioned).

                2. e
                  emilief Feb 6, 2009 01:27 PM

                  As recommended, Wasik's Cheese Shop in Wellesly is great. It is accessible by commuter rail into Wellesley- then about a 2 block walk. They are very generous with tastes and advice. Family run and very friendly.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: emilief
                    StriperGuy Feb 6, 2009 05:23 PM

                    Wasik's is good, but not worth a trip. FK is the holey of holies.

                    1. re: emilief
                      Gabatta Jun 16, 2009 05:35 AM

                      3rd for Wasik's

                      1. re: Gabatta
                        Klunco May 14, 2010 07:04 AM

                        4th for Wasik's. They don't bring cheese out of their cellar until it's ready, they make great suggestions, are really friendly and are heavy handled with the samples. Plus although they do get crowded at the expected times (Friday afterwork), they are efficient and have a plenty of trained staff working.

                    2. StriperGuy Feb 6, 2009 01:19 PM

                      There is FK and then all others. FK is a bus ride from Harvard Square.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: StriperGuy
                        meganhyde Jun 15, 2009 06:55 PM


                        1. re: meganhyde
                          StriperGuy Jun 15, 2009 06:59 PM

                          On teh internets folks often use shortcuts. Note title of thread = Formaggio Kitchen.

                          Formaggio Kitchen = FK

                          Formaggio Kitchen is one of the best cheese shops in North America. I do not make that statement lightly. It ain't cheap, but it is very, very, very good.

                          1. re: StriperGuy
                            hckybg Jun 15, 2009 08:08 PM

                            Definitely agree with this...I have been to, and very much liked, Murray's in NY and would put Formaggio up against it any day. They are not necessarily the same kind of store (Formaggio has many things, not just cheese), but Formaggio has an incredible array and the staff to take you through it. Formaggio is definitely one of the country's best cheese shops.

                            1. re: hckybg
                              winedude Jun 17, 2009 04:39 AM

                              I agree that Formaggio's has one of the best selections, and very knowledgable staff. However, I find the place a bit off-putting, and chaotic. It can be difficult to pick a cheese, or to get proper tastes, and I've had my share of attitude from the staff.

                              Unless I'm going for something uber-exotic, I prefer to get my cheese at Wasik's Cheese Shop in Wellesley.

                              1. re: winedude
                                hotoynoodle Jun 17, 2009 05:05 AM

                                i've only been to the south end formaggio, which is tiny and packed with inventory. it can be very crazy there on weekends, so i avoid it then. the staff obviously is more relaxed at off-hours

                                they have some excellent charcuterie too -- i've bought a prosciutto where the pigs are fed grape must (left-over mush before wine is fermented) and it was to die for.

                                however, i think the prices of their accompaniments are just off he charts.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                  yumyum Jun 17, 2009 01:13 PM

                                  Oh hotoy! You must get over to the FK mother ship in Cambridge. Seriously. Avoid it on weekends unless you've sharpened your elbows first, but it's such a great store and from what I know of you (from the board) you'd love it.

                                  1. re: yumyum
                                    heypielady Jun 18, 2009 07:43 AM

                                    I prefer the south end FK. I usually go after work during the week. The cheese guys have always been extremely attentive and helpful. I've gotten a chillier reception at the Cambridge store. (which is too bad because I live in Cambridge) Even though its a little bigger I always feel like I'm in somebody's way there.

                          2. re: meganhyde
                            tallullah Jun 15, 2009 06:59 PM

                            Formaggio Kitchen

                          3. re: StriperGuy
                            FoodDabbler May 13, 2010 12:07 PM

                            I felt I had to chime in here and unreservedly, wholeheartedly, and exuberantly agree. There's no comparison between Formaggio Kitchen and anything else I've seen in the Boston area. Indeed, as others have noted, the store holds its own against the best places pretty much anywhere else.

                            Formaggio Kitchen
                            244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                          4. b
                            bostonbroad Feb 6, 2009 12:08 PM

                            Wasn't the food shop being opened by the Publick House team supposed to have a good cheese section? I haven't been there yet, but I seem to remember that being in the original plans. OTOH, I could be hallucinating that whole thing.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: bostonbroad
                              PorkTerrine Feb 6, 2009 12:16 PM

                              Oh! That reminds me. BiNA also had a surprisingly decent cheese selection in their shop next to the new restaurant.

                              1. re: PorkTerrine
                                bostonbroad Feb 6, 2009 01:16 PM

                                I can't believe I didn't mention that - I'm headed there in a few minutes for bread and wine - and possibly cheese!

                              2. re: bostonbroad
                                Velda Mae Jun 17, 2009 04:32 AM

                                Publick House Provisions has a small cheese case and while they do have an interesting selection, I've wondered about their storage practices and whether the cheese is being sold past peak. I think Wasik's is fine if you're in the area but is certainly not worth a special trip to Wellesley. Formaggio Kitchen is great because they have so many accompaniments that match the quality of their cheese and they are very generous about offering tastes, which is great considering how much cheese costs. Formaggio's inventory is very Euro-centric, however. Their selection of New England and American cheeses is relatively small, though they do have a large selection from the local and excellent Carlisle Farm.

                                1. re: Velda Mae
                                  emilief Jun 17, 2009 09:48 AM

                                  Would be interested to know why you don't think Wasik's is worth a special trip. The owners are very knowledgeable, friendly and will give you very generous tastes of whatever you want. The cheese is excellent and you can find lots of unusual cheeses, all ripened to perfection.

                              3. p
                                PorkTerrine Feb 6, 2009 12:06 PM

                                I am not sure about being T-accessible, but some other cheese shops include:

                                The Boston Cheese Cellar in Roslindale: www.bostoncheesecellar.com
                                Russo's in Watertown has a solid cheese counter (ask for Mark, the cheese-guy
                                )Wasiks in Wellesley do a great job: www.wasiks.com
                                Concord Cheese Shop: www.concordcheeseshop.com
                                And several Whole Foods Markets have a good selection.

                                1. BobB Feb 6, 2009 11:59 AM

                                  Formaggio is arguably the best in the area, but there's also the Wine & Cheese Cask in Somerville (bus accessible). Most of the Whole Foods have decent cheese selections and take better care of them than your typical supermarket.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: BobB
                                    jajjguy Feb 6, 2009 12:28 PM

                                    As far as Whole Foods goes, the Fresh Pond location has quite a good cheese section, and some knowledgeable staff. Close to Alewife T stop on the red line.

                                    Formaggio and Wine & Cheese Cask are quite a bit better, but less convenient (depending where you're coming from, obviously).

                                    1. re: BobB
                                      enhF94 Jun 16, 2009 03:59 AM

                                      I have often been well-treated by the wine guy (owner?) of Wine and Cheese Cask, but sniffed at by the other staff. They seem annoyed by customers most of the time. Over several years, in fact. I've tried keeping my head low, I've tried asking newbie questions, I've tried talking DOC and DOP and bourbon - nothin'. I still shop there, but I don't have a relationship with anyone in the cheese counter. Maybe they're shy.

                                      1. re: enhF94
                                        jajjguy Jun 16, 2009 06:37 PM

                                        Yeah, some of the folks at the Cask can be a little crusty, gruff, withdrawn, whatever. Ok, so they (mostly) don't want to be your friend, or mine either, and sucking up to them doesn't help. So don't bother. They're not mean, and they are helpful, in my experience. Just accept that whatever their demeanor, it's not about you, and it doesn't get in the way of the shop being a really good place to shop. Or, just pretend you're in Paris...

                                        1. re: jajjguy
                                          enhF94 Jun 17, 2009 07:10 PM

                                          They still get most of my business. If another shop opens on my route that encourages conversations about cheese, though, they'll lose out.

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