Are you stuck in a sandwich rut?
Sick and tired of your ol' standby, PB&J?
If so, I highly recommend you get your booty to Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville ASAP.
Okay, so don't get me wrong. If I had to choose to eat one sandwich for the rest of my life it would probably be a peanut butter & jelly (& banana). But only if it was made with Teddie Super Chunky Peanut Butter.
However, if my beloved nut butter were to be discontinued, I would gladly eat any of the dozens of sandwiches scribbled on Dave's ginormous chalk board of wonder.
While part of me hesitates to reveal one of Boston's best, hidden gastronomic jewels, I feel that it is the right thing to do for hungry bellies around the world.
In order to make your first (or 24th) visit to Dave's as simple as possible, follow these steps:
1. Grab a friend, a significant other, your mother, or just yourself and take the Red Line to Davis Square. Dave's is a mere 3 minute walk from the T stop.
2. Enter Dave's Fresh Pasta. Don't be intimidated by the line; it moves quickly.
3. Use your time in line wisely to make a decision. Trust me-- the options are overwhelming.
4. When it's finally your turn give your order to one of the sandwich masters behind the counter. You can pay right then or you can wait until you have received your coveted sandwich(es).
5. Once you have obtained and paid for said sandwich, sit down. In the winter, grab a window seat in the sun. But in the summer, the outdoor sidewalk seating is all that and a bag of chips.
6. Pick up your sandwich, open your mouth as wide as possible and bite down.
7. The first bite-- complete with the earth-shattering crunch of the warm, rustic bread, ooey-gooey cheese, and the layers of cold cuts, veggies, and spreads-- is what my dreams are made of. I swear I shed a tear of joy every time I take that first bite.
8. Then proceed to shed a tear of sadness when you look down at the white parchment paper where your sandwich once was.
9. Plot your return ASAP.
10. For those of you still on Step 3, cracking under the pressure of having to make a decision, allow me to provide you with a few recommendations:
- The quintessential, classic Italian combination of tomato, basil, and mozzarella. However, the generous layer of perfect pesto and drizzle of balsamic vinegar make this a sandwich to write home about. This is my go-to summer sandwich when the tomatoes are practically jumping off of the vines and the basil is wreaking havoc in home gardens everywhere. It was my first sandwich here and the one that made me a Dave's disciple.
2. Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey
- Layer upon layer of freshly sliced turkey breast with sun-dried tomato pesto, aged asiago, caramelized onions and baby spinach leaves. Certainly not your typical turkey sandwich. Order it and you will understand why this WAS my favorite Dave's creation.
3. Prosciutto & Fig (& Caramelized Onions)
- I really don't like ordering the same thing twice when I eat out, especially in a place like Dave's where the possibilities are endless. But this gem right here has a piece of my heart and I can't but help but order it nearly every time. Paper thin-sliced prosciutto and oozing mozzarella with sweet, but not cloying, fig jam on a sinfully crusty ciabatta roll (my personal favorite). Oh and my addition of the caramelized onions? No explanation other than the fact that I have an unhealthy obsession with all-things caramelized. I am also a huge fan of the classic, yet timeless, combination of salty & sweet. Let's just say this sandwich is the next chocolate-covered pretzel.
So why is Dave's Slow Food-worthy?
Well, Dave's is a major supporter of fellow local businesses. Take Fiore di Nonno for example.
Fiore di Nonno is best-known for its handmade mozzarella but it also works its magic on those curds-and-whey to produce some mighty fine burrata, stracciatella, and string cheese. And all of it is produced right in Somerville. Fiore di Nonno was even kind enough to give a mozzarella-making demo for Slow Food BU this past November. Fiore di Nonno's amazing mozzarella can be found on Dave's sandwiches and on its shelves.
In addition, Dave's is also a purveyor of Iggy's Bread, another local staple. Its amazingly crunchy yet fluffy, carby goodness is the perfect vehicle for all of the cold cuts, fresh vegetables, and other sandwich goodies that complete Dave's panini. You can even take some rolls, croissants, etc. home to try and re-create your experience at Dave's. Or to make Croissant Bread Pudding. Either way, invite me over.
While I could rave about the sandwiches for days, Dave is actually more well-known for its (wait for it, wait for it...) PASTA. Homemade pasta to boot.
In a world where "spaghetti" is king, Dave's attempts and succeeds to remind Bostonians that pasta comes from something other than a blue box. It is rather ironic that one of the simplest recipes (flour, water, and possibly an egg or two) with such rewarding results can seem so intimidating to make.
Dave's offers a wonderful selection of pasta in any flavor, color, shape, etc. one could ever desire. Aside from your decision about whether to order the Caprese or the Prosciutto&Fig, the choice of which of the dozens of pasta to select will be the most difficult one you make all day.
While you can always select the classic egg pasta, why not get a little crazy and go for the sweet red pepper or the lemon basil? There is angel hair, linguine, fettucine, pappardelle, or even lasagna sheets, all which are cut to order right before your eyes. And to further complicate things, there is also an extensive selection of handmade ravioli. Be still my heart.
In addition, if you are as fascinated by Italian cuisine as I am, Dave's offers an array of classes that will temporarily curb any Italophile's insatiable hunger. Classes include topics such as pasta, risotto, gnocchi, saucing, and wine. By teaching traditional culinary techniques and making Italian food more approachable to its customers, Dave's certainly deserves the Slow Food stamp of approval.
With an abundance of high-quality ingredients and prepared foods, Dave's provides its customers with the tools to be his or her own domestic Italian god/goddess. After perusing the aisles filled with beautiful pastas, cheeses, produce, and other goodies, I am inevitably inspired to go home and get into the kitchen. But only after I digest my sandwich.
So if you are sitting around on a Saturday afternoon about to bite into yet another PB&J, I beg you to put that thing down, hop on the T and run (don't walk) to Dave's Fresh Pasta. Your stomach can thank me later.
By: Julia Sementelli