Restaurant you have to cut through a grocery store to get to?
Some old college friends will be visiting soon and one mentioned wanting to go the the restaurant in the grocery store/deli. If you know where it is, and more importantly, if it is any good, please let me know! And while on the topic (sorta), if you know of other 'hidden gems' I should consider adding to the mix, please do share (we'll have a car and can head out of Boston too, but not too far). Thanks in advance for your help!
JJ's Portuguese Restaurant in Somerville is also at the back of a convenience store and worth a visit for the food not just the novelty. Snack bar/Breakfast nook and neighborhood store are a lot more common, although vanishing to some extent, than full service restaurants which both Vinny's and JJ's are (full dinner service, beer wine, etc snack/sub service only in the non dining areas).
The place you are thinking of (I think) is Vinny's Superette in Somerville (Broadway off of McGrath). It is very good red sauce Italian, but you need reservations for Friday/Saturday nights and expect a "mama's table" type vibe (as in nothing very fancy and big portions). Make sure you get the side of broccoli rabe and the lasagna is pretty good.
There are so many hidden gems, you need to be more specific :) The Modern Pastry shop in Medford Square is a great hit if you aren't near the North End. And in the same square is Mystic Coffee Roasters, which has fantastic coffee. Go to Verna's Donuts on Mass Ave for the last true donut in Cambridge. Guru the Caterer in Somerville has amazingly good and cheap Indian food (other end of Broadway).
20 Salem St, Medford, MA
Verna's Donut Shop
2344 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA
Guru the Caterer
1297 Broadway, Somerville, MA
Mystic Coffee Roaster
30 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155