The Boston culinary scene is often overlooked when people think of foodie cities in the Northeast. Similarly, when thinking about cheese, Boston is not always on the map. However, locals know that not only is good cheese made in the state but there are also great cheese shops. Within the confines of Route 128, understood by many as metropolitan Boston, there are dozens of cheese stores and restaurants with solid curd offerings. Here are some of the most iconic places for your next visit to the cradle of American independence.
268 Shawmut Ave., Boston
358 Huron Ave., Cambridge
94 Hampshire St., Cambridge
Formaggio Kitchen is a small independent chain with three stores in the region and one in New York City, (see our profile of Formaggio Kitchen in Essex Market). Started by Valerie and Ihsan Gurdal in 1978, the store is known for being a pioneer in bringing some iconic imports into the United States. They are one of the few stores in the country which still has an import program, bringing cheese uniquely for their stores. Cheeses such as Brebis du Haut-Bearne you are unlikely to find elsewhere in the US. The Gurdals announced their retirement in late December of 2023. Julia Hallman, long-term employee, will be taking over this Boston institution.
The flagship store is located in the Huron Village neighborhood of Cambridge. This newly opened location replaced their iconic store a few blocks away, which also used to house their underground cellars. There is a second store in Cambridge in the vibrant Kendall Area neighborhood. Their store in Boston is small but mighty serving a neighborhood where the food scene of the city is in constant renewal. Their store in NYC is part of the renovated Essex Street Market.
Recently, Gurdal’s son, Kurt, opened a store on the other side of the country. Check out The Canyon Grocer – Kurt and Whey in Santa Monica Canyon, California.
45 Lafayette St, Salem
Previously profiled in Cheese Shops We Love: Cheese Shop of Salem first opened its doors in September 2015 in the well-known town of Salem, Massachusetts by alumni of another Massachusetts store. The store is one of the best shops in the country, with a huge selection of imported and national cheeses, an impressive wine selection, and every possible accompaniment. The shop is run by Peter Endicott, Brie Hurd, and a fantastic team of cheesemongers.
The service is impeccable, and they have a devout following of people who buy cheese from them at the store and online. While they don’t have a specific geographical criteria for the cheeses they sell, their top sellers are L’Amuse Signature Gouda from Holland, Aussie Magic from Australia and Aged Bloomsday from Cato Corner in Colchester, Connecticut. You should stop by when visiting the cultural institutions of the city, including the Peabody Essex Museum or during Halloween when the city transforms itself to the capital of the spooky. Around the corner visit A&J King Artisan Bakers. They are nationally renowned for their advocacy supporting small businesses during the pandemic.
29 Walden St, Concord
The Concord Cheese Shop is one of those stores that is both an anchor of a thriving downtown and a foodie destination. The selection that Peter Lovis curates includes European staples, well-selected Massachusetts exclusives, and well tasted American originals. In addition to cheese, the store has a large selection of wines, you can buy prepared foods or grab a sandwich for a picnic in the nearby trails and conservation areas.
The store is locally known for its Crucolo Parade, that until before the pandemic drew crowds to see a huge wheel of cheese being cut in a major street celebration.
61 Central St., Wellesley
It is worth noting that this cheese shop was once part of an expanding independent chain of stores which has since disappeared. “The Cheese Shop” group was initially conceived on the idea that neighborhood stores under one umbrella could perform better as purchasing was done jointly. Eventually the venture collapsed, but the owners of many of the stores bought the rights and stayed open. The Wasik Family maintains their store first opened in 1964 in the town of Wellesley west of Boston. The Wasik’s began expertly aging cheeses in 1966. Today they are worth seeking out for seasonal cheeses such as Pecorino Marzolino and Robiola Foglia di Castagno. Ken Skovron runs Darien Cheese & Fine Foods in Connecticut and Dominick DiBartolomeo operates the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, since buying it from original owner Norbert Wabnig who opened the shop in 1967.
Where the Locals Shop
The cities of Boston and Cambridge are divided by the Charles River, and along a half dozen other cities, they share a devotion for the local sports teams, vibrant academic and scientific communities, and a slow transportation system. This last point often translates to residents staying close to home and supporting local businesses. Many neighborhoods have their own independent set of shops and most of them carry good quality cheese thanks to the many distributors working in the area.
In Boston proper, you can shop for good cheese at Bacco’s Wine + Cheese or Eataly in the Back Bay, or at American Provisions in South Boston. They have a second location in Dorchester, while Savenor’s Butcher and Grocer serves Beacon Hill and central Cambridge with a store near Inman Square. In Cambridge but closer to Davis Square the locals shop for their cheese at Pemberton Farms Marketplace or at Dave’s Fresh Pasta. Further north the Wine and Cheese Cask in Somerville has a small but well curated cheese selection to pair with their extensive wine selection.
The Spirited Gourmet in Belmont and Curds & Co (editor’s note: read our profile of proprietor Jenn Mason) in Brookline serve their cities’ affluent clientele. While Mill City Cheesemongers in Lowell is part of the renaissance of this once wealthy town.
There are dozens of other stores in every neighborhood and cities around the area that carry a growing selection of American artisanal cheeses, if you know of one that needs to be included in a future list, please let us know!
Where to Find the Best Cheese Plates
Cheese is a good bet for restaurants, and many fancier places have a cheese offering as part of the menu, however, if you are looking for cheese plates, new ideas, or options at accessible prices try the following:
Fromage Boston, located at 401 W. Broadway So in South Boston, offers cheese boards and charcuterie platters, along with a small selection of other dishes with and without cheese.
Kured located at 83 Charles Street in Beacon Hill is a unique concept of fast cheese and charcuterie boards made to order. The concept was first tried in Boston and has recently opened a second location in Manhattan, NYC.
The Salty Pig is a no-frills pizzeria with good cheese boards and a nice cocktail selection at 130 Dartmouth St near the Copley Mall in Boston.
Brasil Brazil (The Cheese Bread Factory) located at 31 Maverick Square in East Boston is a unique spot where you will be able to taste “Pão de Queijo”. This cheese-filled puff is originally from the state of Minas Gerais in Brazil. Massachusetts has a large population of Brazilian immigrants, who are not only bringing their culinary culture, but have also started to produce cheese in the state.
Massachusetts produces a lot of wonderful cheese, however most local cheese makers are not as well known as friends up-north in Vermont. If you are interested in tasting wonderful cheeses from the Bay State, try Prufrock from the Grey Barn or the Great Hill Blue from the creamery of the same name, you won’t be disappointed.
This article originally appeared on CheeseProfessor and was syndicated by MediaFeed.
More from MediaFeed:
- Science says this ‘70s rock hit is the catchiest song of our time
- 20 incredible movies so disturbing we never want to see them again
Like MediaFeed’s content? Be sure to follow us.