Bringing the Corner Deli Back to Danvers Square

Posted: November 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Danvers, Danvers Fresh Marketplace, Deli, Marketplace | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

When you hear the phrase “corner deli,” you might think nostalgically of the days before computers and cell phones. But the truth is, this type of establishment has more relevance than ever for today’s busy shoppers.

Late last year, John Gross opened Danvers Fresh Marketplace one block from the center of Danvers Square, bringing produce from his Chelsea-market business and adding a selection of bakery, deli, and gourmet products.

The produce is the star in this relatively small space—carefully laid out groupings of vegetables and seasonal fruits, nothing past its prime or bruised. A table near the door holds specialty items; on a recent visit, there were last-of-the-season berries, persimmons, figs, and concord grapes. Nearby was a large table of good-looking sugar pumpkins for $.75 each. (Weekly sale items are listed on the store’s Web site.)

Also by the door is a small deli counter with a huge selection of Boar’s Head meats plus cranberry walnut chicken salad, bean salad, ham salad, dips, and cut fruit. Sandwiches are made to order, and deli platters are available. In front of the case is a selection of half loaves from West Concord-based Nashoba Brook Bakery.

In the back corner is an immaculate salad bar featuring the usual suspects along with less common items like grilled chicken, ham, artichokes, feta cheese, banana peppers, and sunflower seeds. Nearby are kettles of soup from Chelsea-based Kettle Cuisine ($2.69 small, $6.99 large). Manager Andrea Harry suggests coming early if you want soup—lunchtimes are busy, and many selections sell out.

Whether you stop in for lunch or a produce run, you may want to seek out a few of the store’s other treats. In the dairy case are small containers of Rachel’s yogurt, which come in exotic flavors and are creamier than other low-fat yogurts. Near the soup kettles are bottles of Il Moretto olive oil from Sicily and small jars of Christopher Ranch garlic, ginger, shallots, and pesto. Last but not least, tea breads from The New Salem Tea Bread Company in Amherst are near the register. We tried the apple cinnamon—not inexpensive at $5, but hard to distinguish from homemade.

Although it would be great to see a few more local products in the store, we give John Gross and his team high marks for bringing back the corner deli—and making it better than ever.

Danvers Fresh Marketplace
17 Elm St, Danvers
(978) 774-2756


Celebrating Thanksgiving on the North Shore

Posted: November 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Event, Marketplace | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s coming down to the wire for Thanksgiving, and sometimes the pressure of making everything come together for a holiday can be overwhelming. Hoping to ease your angst, we’ve put together a list of useful North Shore resources.

Tendercrop Farm in Newbury is offering fresh local hormone- and antibiotic-free turkeys, and their Web site even offers cooking advice. Vermont free-range turkeys are available through New Meadows Market in Topsfield, which also offers prepared birds, side dishes, and desserts. If you’re not familiar with it, Northeast Harvest is a terrific resource for locating local farms selling fresh vegetables and poultry. And if you’re looking for quick and easy recipes, check out this fantastic list from the New York Times.

For beautifully prepared gourmet sides and desserts, Ipswich Shellfish Fish Market in Ipswich, Henry’s Market in Beverly, and Foodie’s Feast in Marblehead all have special holiday menus. Ordering deadlines vary, so call as soon as possible if you are interested. Shubie’s Market Place also has a special catering menu, and if you’re worried about pleasing the different wine drinkers at your table, they have a great solution: a six-pack containing carefully selected wines of uniquely different styles. That way, you’ll be sure to have something for everyone, and it’s offered at 20% off the regular price.

If you’re not in the mood to cook, there are plenty of local options still available for tucking into holiday fare. Both the Hawthorne Hotel in Salem and 10 Center Street in Newburyport are serving buffet-style meals. The Hawthorne’s is offered from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm and runs $41 for adults and $17 for kids. 10 Center is offering seatings at 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. Their feast is $55 for adults, $15 for kids, and children under six are free.

Both Mission Oak Grill and David’s Tavern in Newburyport have special offers. Along with their regular menu, Mission Oak will feature a four-course Thanksgiving meal at $21 per adult and $10 per child. David’s is serving a three course meal for $32 per adult and $12 for kids.

Victoria Station in Salem is running list of holiday specials as well as an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving feast for $30 per adult and $12 per child (children under five eat free). For those in search of alternative ideas, Rawberts Organic Garden in Beverly offers a full holiday menu available for eating in or taking out.

If you’re looking for a more casual atmosphere where you can relax and sip a brew with your turkey and fixin’s, Sweeney’s Retreat in Marblehead will be open, offering their Irish Pub style Thanksgiving meal, and the Lobster Shanty in Salem promises a tasty looking family-style communal table meal at $25 for the all-you-can-eat extravaganza.

Finally, we’d like to give a big shout-out to Tavern on the Square in Salem, which is serving a free Thanksgiving dinner from 11:30 to 2:00. It is open to all but focuses on the elderly, the homeless, and families that are struggling in these difficult times. Talk about the holiday spirit!

We hope this list helps to alleviate some of your impending holiday stress and that your Thanksgiving is full of family, friends, and great food.


Plum Island Grille’s Menu is as Captivating as Their View

Posted: November 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: American, Newbury, Plum Island Grille, Seafood | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Last weekend the weather was so gorgeous that we just had to get outdoors. On a whim, we decided to head to Plum Island for a walk along the beach and marshes. By the time we got ourselves out there, it was almost noon, and we were in need of a meal before anything else. The logical choice was of course the Plum Island Grille, which opens for a jazz brunch at noon on Sundays.

The restaurant has rustic beach feel with both a pretty dining room and a great enclosed porch with an incredible view, which is where we were seated. One look at the menu tells you that despite the casual atmosphere, the food goes far beyond ordinary beach fare. Both the brunch and dinner menus have lighter fare, more substantial meals, and a good range of starters, all with reasonable prices.

We started with an obligatory bloody mary, the wild mushroom turnovers ($12), and the fresh PEI mussels ($10). The turnover was filled with organic wild mushrooms in a light sauce and served with truffled gouda sour cream and tomato salsa. While quite tasty, the deep fried wonton like shell was a bit incongruous; a baked pie crust pastry would have suited it better. The mussels, simmered in a Thai green curry and coconut milk broth and finished with fresh cilantro and mint, were delightful. The freshness of the herbs enhanced the curry, and the broth didn’t overwhelm the shellfish.

For entrees, we chose the swordfish burger with tapenade and aioli ($15) and the duck confit served with warm goat cheese, trumpet royale mushrooms, and lardon with a poached pear jam ($16) The swordfish, which was served with fries and field greens, was expertly grilled; tender and juicy with the tapenade lending a bit of a piquant kick. The duck was absolutely delicious, rich and savory. In combination with the sautéed bacon and mushrooms, it was downright luxurious. The warm goat cheese turned out to be a fried ball, but it wasn’t heavy or greasy, and the pear jam offered a lovely accent.


The restaurant faces Sunset Boulevard, and aside from conjuring up visions of Norma Desmond, there is a reason for the street’s name. It runs along the salt marshes that line the western side of the island, over which the setting sun provides a spectacular vision. Plum Island Grille overlooks this idyll, making it not only a good stop for terrific food, but one of most memorable places on the North Shore to relax with a drink and watch the sun go down.

Plum Island Grille
2 Plum Island Blvd, Newbury
(978) 463-2290

Plum Island Grille on Urbanspoon


Sweet Times in Danvers

Posted: November 10th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cocoa Belt, Danvers, Goodies Ice Cream, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , , | No Comments »

Wandering around Danvers Square last weekend, we were surprised and delighted to discover two terrific places for after-lunch treats, one newly expanded and one new to us.

Goodies has been serving up ice cream for six years, but we’d never been inside and were delighted to find a 1950s-style décor with a wonderful selection of ice cream, soda-fountain drinks, and desserts. In addition to flavors like chocolate peanut butter chip, falcon crunch, and chocolate walnut, there is yogurt, sugar-free, soft service, and sherbet, plus fun candy toppings. We tried two seasonal flavors, including pumpkin (think pie) and apple crisp (with great caramel flavor). Prices range from $2.59 for an itty bitty to $4.61 for a large.

We’re planning a return trip to sample some of the shop’s other offerings like freshly filled cannoli, churros, chocolate-chip-cookie sandwiches, and, of course, the fried dough sundae.

Just down the street The Cocoa Belt is newly expanded, run by Theresa and Mark Whitman. Theresa was there with her adorable four-month-old the day we visited, and she couldn’t have been more welcoming. The shop features a line of fresh-made, hand-dipped chocolates ($21.95 per pound) that we found top quality and delicious, especially the coffee cream and the chocolate dipped fudge. The shop is known for delighting patrons with almost-lost traditional confections like scotch kisses as well as new traditions like black forest truffles and cranberry clusters.

Theresa, whose love for chocolate might have something to do with growing up in the Nichols family, makes the chocolates in the couple’s Essex home and packages them in a workspace adjacent to the shop. The workspace is also where she holds birthday parties and candy-making classes for children and adults.

In addition to Theresa’s confections, the shop features Lake Champlain bars in a variety of cocoa percentages and a line of letterpressed, hand-made cards. Both Whitmans are looking forward to their first holiday season in the new space, and we are looking forward to returning to support this talented entrepreneurial couple.

46 Maple St, Danvers
(978) 762-4663

The Cocoa Belt
58 Maple St, Danvers
(978) 774-4332


A Great Big Thank You

Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

North Shore Dish has put together a Tasting Tour of the North Shore gift basket to be auctioned off as part of a fundraiser for Marblehead’s Charter School, at their yearly auction night tomorrow evening at the Tedesco Country Club.

We asked some of our favorite purveyors of food and drink on the North Shore if they could donate something to the basket, and we were overwhelmed by the terrific response! We are proud and grateful to know such generous people who care about and give back to their community.

We’d like to give a huge thank you to the individuals who made this beautiful basket come together so spectacularly: Tony and Valerie Bettencourt at Sixty2 on Wharf, Matt and Joanna O’Neil at The Blue Ox, Matt and Jean Sanidas at Nine Elm, Diane and Lee Wolfe at The Lobster Shanty, Steve Feldmann at Gulu Gulu Café, Michael Goodman at Manhattan Sandwich, the good folks at Coffey Ice Cream, Harbor Sweets, Stowaway Sweets, Ryan and Wood Distilleries, and Mercury Brewing Company. We’d also like to offer special thanks to Donna Olivero at Caffe Italia, who not only donated a gift certificate, but a pile of Italian goodies from her much-anticipated Italian Market opening soon at the restaurant.

With these beautiful, tasty treats and generous gift certificates, our basket is sure to earn a tidy sum for the Charter School!


Dish Tid Bits

Posted: November 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Newburyport, News, Peabody, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

It’s been a busy week here, leaving us little time to post, but we wanted to keep you up to date on the latest news.

First off, Salem has seen a few restaurant closings in recent weeks. Lunch Guy was saddened to see that Clucky’s Wings has closed its doors for good. Where will he get his wings fix on the North Shore? Also closed is the Mexican Edgewater Café on Washington Street. While the food had gone downhill of late, they were a live music venue and will be missed as part of Salem’s vibrant entertainment scene.

Yesterday, The Lyceum on Church Street celebrated its grand re-opening with Mayor Kim Driscoll, who awarded the restaurant for its continued commitment to the community. The 20-year-old restaurant has been reborn with a new team, a grand renovation, and new Web site.

Founder George Harrington, Sr. has partnered with his son, George Harrington, Jr., and Nicola Savignano to update the restaurant with European bistro fare. “Using fresh, sustainable seafood, quality meats and poultry, and other regionally-sourced ingredients, The Lyceum’s chefs introduce new dishes with wholesome accompaniments that complete each plate,” says the site. From what we’ve seen, the new interior and the food both look terrific, and we can’t wait to give them a whirl.

The month of October also saw the opening of not one, but two raw food restaurants in Newburyport. Grezzo, the upscale North End restaurant owned and created by Alissa Cohen, opened a 55-seat second location there on October 5. For a more casual meal, the Revitalive Café just opened in the Tannery Mall, offering both take-out and dine-in options.

Last, but far from least, if you are a fan of the Food Network, mark your calendars. On Monday, November 9 at 10:00 pm, Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” will feature one of our favorite local diners, The Little Depot Diner in Peabody. Wonder if he tried the special butter…