Somerville Local First


Al Fresco Dining and Drinking in the ‘Ville

May 23 2:52 pm

by Kristen Leonard

With this spring getting off to an exceptionally warm start, it’s hard to want to stay indoors. Luckily, there are lots of outdoor drinking and dining options in Somerville, so shake off the winter and soak up that sun! Because doesn’t everything taste better when eaten outside?

Bloc 11 - Union Square


Bloc 11 Cafe: What better way to start the day than with a coffee and egg sandwich? In addition to
artfully-prepared coffee drinks, Bloc 11 in Union Square features a variety of baked goods and breakfast items as well as delicious salads and sandwiches. So grab a newspaper and snag a spot in the grassy courtyard and get your morning started right.

Precinct - Union Square

Precinct: For those that prefer Bloody Marys and Mimosas over coffee, head over to Precinct in Union Square. Previously home to the Somerville Police Department, this restaurant/bar/music venue boasts a spacious outdoor patio perfect for brunch or afternoon beers. Once you’ve had your fill of the sun, head inside for nightly live music.


The Burren - Davis Square

The Burren: Craving a real Irish breakfast or perfectly-poured Guinness? This Davis Square institution features a small sidewalk patio that’s perfect for people-watching while enjoying your Irish comfort food favorites.


Orleans - Davis Square

Orleans: For a slightly more upscale feel, visit this Davis Square restaurant featuring a combination of creative and comfort food. Take in the fresh air on the patio or grab a table next to the large windows
that open up onto Holland Street.


Posto: This relative newcomer to Somerville has received lots of positive press for its menu featuring wood-fired pizzas. With outdoor tables running along Elm Street, this upscale pizzeria is the perfect place for dinner on a warm evening or brunch on Sundays.

PJ Ryan's - Teele Square

PJ Ryan’s: With seasonally-changing taps that include local favorites from Sam Adams and Harpoon as well as beers from Dogfish Head and Brooklyn Brewery, this Teele Square pub offers sidewalk tables as
well as large restaurant-front windows so you can enjoy the weather without risk of sunburn.


Pretty Things - Good outside, inside, any side!

Perhaps you prefer eating in a greener setting? Swing over to Sherman Market in Union Square and stock your picnic basket with New England-made snacks to enjoy in one of Somerville’s many parks. Or, if you like keeping it a little closer to home, head over to Downtown Wine and Spirits in Davis Square
to pick up some beers from one of the best selections available in Boston. Try the Jack D’Or from
Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, a deliciously spicy Saison, or Happy Sol from Slumbrew, a refreshing
Hefeweizen fermented with the juice of 1,000 blood oranges. Both are a perfect way to cap off a sunny
afternoon on your porch.


Do you have a fave outdoor spot to dine in Somerville?  If we missed it, tell us in the comment section below!

Bloc 11 Café
11 Bow Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 623-0000

The Burren
247 Elm Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 776-6896

Downtown Wine and Spirits
225 Elm Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 625-7777

65 Holland Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 591-2100

PJ Ryan’s
239 Holland Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 625-8200

187 Elm Street
Somerville, MA
(617) 625-0600

70 Union Square
Somerville, MA
(617) 623-9211

Sherman Market
22 Union Square
Somerville, MA
(617) 666-0179

Somerville Notables

Apr 26 12:18 pm

Photo by Georgy Cohen

by Kristen Schaer

The characters and local color that make a city more than just a place to live is one thing that makes Somerville great, and not just another dot on the map. Whether a birthplace, a nurturing neighborhood to come of age in, a place to generate ideas or a refuge, Somerville has played fertile breeding ground to a number of authors, entrepreneurs, athletes, scientists, intellectuals and artists throughout the years. Not just an outpost of Boston, Somerville is a continuing generator and incubator of invaluable resources: ideas and creativity.

Science fiction author Isaac Asimov lived in Somerville during the 1950s during his time teaching at Boston University’s medical school. Noted author of the stories, “I, Robot” and the “Foundation” series, Asimov’s momentous intellect was matched only by his lack of physical dexterity. He never learned how to swim or ride a bike, but managed to learn how to drive while living in Somerville. In his book, Asimov Laughs Again, he likened driving in Boston to “anarchy on wheels.”

Bobby “Boris” Pickett, though not easily distinguishable by name alone, is the co-writer and singer of “Monster Mash.” Written at the time to be a spoof on the “Mashed Potato” and “Twist” dance crazes, Pickett utilized his passion for horror movies to do impressions of stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff for the song. Cult film director John Waters, in his book, Role Models, claims he dances to the song once a day to stay happy.

Archibald Query may sound like a British sea captain with such an illustrious name, but his profession is more fluff. Marshmallow Fluff. Created in 1917 by Query, the crème was sold door-to-door prior to World War I, but languished during the war as a sugar shortage caused the manufacture to be expensive. Swampscott company Durkee-Mower bought the rights to the crème in the 1920s and patented the term “Fluffernutter” to describe the peanut butter/Marshmallow Fluff sandwich. Annually, Somerville’s Union Square hosts the “What the Fluff” festival, featuring art and cooking contests as well as performances and games.

Writers David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen did brief stints in the ‘ville, with parts of Franzen’s Strong Motion featuring references to Somerville.

Author Pagan Kennedy currently resides in Somerville and is credited with having a strong hand in the 1990′s ‘zine movement. Autobiographical Pagan’s Head is a ‘zine about her life. Her writings can be seen in the New York Times and Boston magazine as well as online publication, Salon.

The Emperor’s Children author, Claire Messud, lives in Somerville with her husband, James Wood, a literary critic. Wood’s essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and the New York Review of Books. Wood also co-taught a class at Boston University with author Saul Bellow.

Athletes have found tremendous encouragement in the Somerville area, as well. Current Detroit Lions offensive-line starter, Gosder Cherilus played for the Somerville High School team for Coach Tony Gulla and then offensive-line coach, Joseph Curtatone. Curatone currently serves as mayor of Somerville. Curtatone said of Cherilus in a July 12, 2011 article of the Somerville News, “Gos is one of the most professional, kind, and giving individuals I have had the pleasure of working with, and coaching, in my career.  His eagerness to give back to the community where he had his start as a football player and his generosity to the children here and in his home country of Haiti prove that he’s an incredibly well-rounded and humble man.”

xkcd webcomic founder Randall Munroe is rooted in Somerville, as well. The webcomic features themes including technology, mathematics, science, language, pop culture and romance. Munroe is a proponent for geocache, a method utilizing a GPS system to meet up with other random members at a specific location using geohashing, a logarithm for finding the location. A North Cambridge neighborhood was famously located by xkcd fans in 2007 when it was mentioned in Munroe’s webcomic #240.

Walking around Somerville, visiting its many stores, bars, restaurants, arts venues and concert venues, the excitement and support centering around creativity is palpable. Perhaps people move here to be a part of that sense of forward thinking, or maybe the opposite is true, and the neighborhood itself provides the impetus for creativity. Whatever the case may be, it is happening here.

Local Business, Global Food.

Apr 16 9:30 am

By Sarah Shugars

For me, YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City is like a dream come true.

Local, immigrant-owned restaurants from across Somerville in
the same place at the same time. Tastes from Turkey, Ethiopia,
Mexico, Thailand, Brazil, the Mediterranean, Italy, India and
Nepal. So. Much. Delicious. Food.

To put it simply, YUM is helping me eat my way to a better Somerville. Sounds fantastic, right?

To be held on Wednesday, April 25 at Arts at the Armory from 6:30 - 9:30, YUM is a
benefit for the great SLF non-profit The Welcome Project. Promoting the cultural richness of
Somerville, YUM raises awareness about Somerville’s many delicious immigrant-owned food
establishments while raising funds for The Welcome Project’s core programs supporting our
diverse community.

YUM will feature food from participating restaurants, live entertainment, a silent auction and an
appearance from Somerville’s Mayor Joseph

Tastes from Sabur at YUM 2011

Curtatone. Additionally, YUM has partnered with the City of
Somerville’s Shape Up Approved restaurant campaign. As
part of the evening’s tastings, you’ll have the chance to
sample Shape Up Approved healthy menu items from all the
current YUM restaurants.

To purchase tickets or to learn about the YUM discount card,
visit Tickets are $35 in advance or $40
at the door and individual sponsorships start at $100. A great
deal and a great way to support our diverse, local community.
Happy local eating!


**Comment on this post by Sunday, April 22 for a chance to win 2 free tickets!**


Participating restaurants:
Aguacate Verde - Mexican, Porter Square
Fill out Aquacate’s healthy eating survey and get a free taco
or drink!

Amelia’s Kitchen- Italian, Teele Square

Part of the buffet line at Churrasco

Yummm, artichoke pizza.

Churrasco Buffet & Grill - Brazilian, Magoun Square
The buffet line stretches around the room offering an

assortment of food from plantains to salad ingredients.

Fasika - Ethiopian, East Somerville
In the mood for Ethiopian food? Fasika has great vegetarian options, which are full of protein!

Istanbul’lu - Turkish, Teele Square
Enjoy Turkish breakfast all day long and mouth-watering Turkish Tapas for your lunch and
dinner dining pleasure!

Masala - Nepali and Indian, Teele Square
Try the Indian take on lentils at Masala

Maya Sol - Mexican, East Somerville
Lovers of Mexican cuisine love Maya Sol’s burritos, tacos and quesadillas!

Ronnarong Thai Tapas Bar - Thai, Union Square
While tapas originated in Spain, you can try them Thai-style at Ronnarong

Sabur - Mediterranean, Teele Square
Carnivores: Must try braised short ribs at Sabur

Yak & Yeti - Nepali and Indian, Ball Square
Check out their lunch buffet!

Local is a Two-Way Street

Feb 21 2:15 pm

Shopping locally can have its benefits!

A friend of mine approached me the other day and asked, “‘I’ve been getting into biking lately, and I want to support my local bike shop. But when I check prices online, it’s usually cheaper. Why should I pay the higher prices just to shop local?”

I took this as a teaching moment and talked to him about how spending his money locally is better for the economy and how price shouldn’t be the only determining factor. A local bike shop could add a lot of value to his shopping experience in ways an online retailer could not. But something concerned me about his situation. What if his particular local bike shop wasn’t giving him a reason to shop locally?

We often put the success of the local movement on the customer. We use slogans like “Shift Your Shopping” and “Buy Local”. But I believe the small, local business is just as responsible for the success of the local movement and the local economy as the customer.

The big online retailers have two main advantages over the small local business: Price and Convenience. They know this and do whatever they can to promote it. The lure of shopping during your lunch hour without leaving your desk, or taking advantage of a special on-line only sale can be very seductive. In tough economic times, these are compelling features. But this doesn’t mean that the small, local business can’t compete.

Make It Personal:

The big retailers, whether online or a physical location, aren’t able to foster personal relationships with their customers like a local business can. Getting personal service from a national retailer is often rare for a variety of reasons, and sadly, it’s something many of us have gotten used to in exchange for low prices.People prefer to buy from people they like and can relate to. The local store can take advantage of this by providing personal service, before, during and after the sale. Don’t sell people stuff, help them buy it. Listen to what the customer’s needs are and find solutions that are unique to them. Never miss an opportunity to communicate with them. Social media like Facebook and Twitter can help as well as email newsletters and blogs. Let them know when you have something you think they would like. Make the customer feel like you are their personal store.


Chances are that you started your business because you are extremely passionate about it. You wouldn’t open a camera store, for example, and not love cameras and photography. Use that passion and knowledge to be the local, go-to expert for your customers. Use social media, your website or blog to post useful tips and information. A camera store could host free photography classes or give out a beginner’s guide to taking good pictures with every new camera purchase. Customers who respect your knowledge will be much more likely to return when they need advice and will trust your judgement on future purchases. Plus, people will enjoy their purchase more if they know how to get the most out of it. You already have all this knowledge, so put it to good use.

Offer Items Not Available at the Big Retailers:

The big retailers are able to offer low prices because they purchase in volume. As a result, they don’t carry some items because the supplier can’t produce the volume they demand. This provides you an opportunity to carry those items that a big retailer can’t or won’t carry. Usually items that are “green”, natural, organic, hand-made, or locally, independently produced or manufactured, are created on a small scale and are not attractive to the big retailers. Seek out those hard-to-find unique products and be their local source. Not only will you be helping other local companies, but it could help you carve a unique niche in the marketplace.

Just telling people to “shop local” isn’t enough. Local businesses need to do their part, too. It is too easy for customers to be lured into the seduction of low prices and convenience shopping. As local businesses, we need to find ways to add value to the goods and services we provide in ways that big national retailers can’t. Whether it’s through developing personal relationships with your customers, providing help and information, or just offering what the big guys can’t, we need to give customers a reason to “buy local”.

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