Somerville’s official food

On April 6, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

On The Silly Side by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

It’s a well-known fact that Marshmallow Fluff was invented in Somerville and everyone has enjoyed a Fluffernutter sandwich. I posted a question on Facebook looking for what people think should be the official food of Somerville. This is a strange time to be doing this type of survey because the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge just kicked off. I got so many suggestions that I decided to just list as many as I could. Here are some of Somerville’s favorite treats both past and present.

Lyndell’s Bakery in Ball Square was mentioned several times for their honey comb bread, cupcakes, and my fave, mocha cakes. I worked there when I was in junior high and I made my own gi-normous mocha cakes! I also used to fill my own jelly donuts until they practically exploded.

Some folks mentioned subs from Nan’s sub shop that used to be across from Somerville High School. I almost got clipped by a few cars rushing over there when I was supposed to be in class! (you kids should not try this! Times were different then.) I have to toss Di Tuccis subs and pizza into the mix also. Bobby made a mean sub. We have mentioned Leones many times in this column and again it’s a choice for the best subs.

One long time Somerville guy tells us that he still considers the Somerville High School’s cafeteria’s mashed potatoes, sausages and gravy arranged campfire style as among his favorite meals. I liked the American Chop Suey. Don’t forget The Highlander Café run by the High School’s Culinary Department. Their prime rib is…prime!

While we are on the subject of delicious foods, we must throw a shout out to the Mount Vernon restaurant’s twin lobster special and their famous prime rib. Everyone likes the Mount Vernon. When one of my out of state friends come back home to visit, he heads right to Angelina’s Sub Shop in Teele Square for a half Jumbo Italian, and then pops over to Amelia’s Kitchen for some Tiramisu.

Many people remembered Jonnies’ special, which is found only at Thurston Spa. It consists of German bologna with all the fixings. My friend James remembers when they cost 25 cents back in the day. Victor’s Sicilian Pizza, The old Highland Cafe’s steak tips and the free lunches they used to serve at the playgrounds from Somerville Recreation Commission made our list of favorite Somerville foods.
Apollo Cakes, formerly in Somerville, made the grade as did La Hacienda and its delicious pizza. We can’t mention Victor’s without talking about Mike Moccia’s Ball Square Café next door. Not only is the food and service great, but you can always bet on bumping into an old friend from the ‘Ville when you are there. Melted cheese and a melting pot please! As one person stated, “It’s as ‘Villen as it gets!”

Along with all the new fancy restaurants and menus, we still love our sandwiches in Somerville. Sometimes you will hear them referred to as “sangwiches” for fun. We all loved the old Harold’s Luncheonette (square pattie cheeseburgers) in Ball Square. (My old band The Tools had a song in their jukebox!) We will never forget Butch, Anna and Jeanne.

Do you remember the fruit truck guy?
“Strawberries…raspberries…CHERRIES! How about the fries at Frank’s sub shop at the corner of Claremont and Holland? I can still see Del’s Pizza truck with the bell.

A friend tells us that Yelp, that online restaurant review site, lists Somerville as having 59 pizza joints to Medford’s 43. Close but no…crust. Did I mention Primos (we miss ya!) and Mama Lisa’s? There are also new places like Pini’s that people like. Sessa’s and Mike’s in Davis Square also serve delectable treats. Mike’s has become a fave of college kids as well as us seasoned Somerville pizza lovers. The Venice Cafe, formerly on Holland St., won a poll I did a couple of years ago for the best Somerville pizza ever, past or present.

So it seems that it’s a tossup between subs and pizza as Somerville’s official food. As our city keeps evolving and growing, we are lucky to have so many diverse cultures offering new and delicious foods. We will also never stop enjoying the foods that we have been eating religiously for decades. It’s great to go into all the new restaurants, sit down and order a fancy meal that you can hardly pronounce, and give your taste buds an international treat. It’s also nice to know that you can still go into one of your favorite pizza and/or sub joints and sink your teeth into a familiar, comforting hunk of deliciousness.

Now I’m hungry for a sub so I could really go for a Jimmy Del Ponte. That’s a small Italian. But since I am participating in the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge and have to lose weight, I’ll have to settle for non-fat yogurt. I’m looking more like a jumbo these days than a small!

Please join me at The Dante Club on Craigie St. this Friday, April 6, from 7 to 11 p.m. for the Somerville Hockey Cash Giveaway Party. If you are a SHS hockey player or cheerleader alumni, consider this a SHS Hockey reunion party! We welcome old friends, coaches, and family to get together for a night of fun to help raise money to keep hockey alive in Somerville! Win $10,000! Please contact Jen at for more info.


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