Food & dining

Welcome to Formaggio Kitchen Kendall

The cheese case at Formaggio Kitchen Kendall.
The cheese case at Formaggio Kitchen Kendall.

Call it what you wish — the area’s finest cheese shop, a store with countless choices, a place to buy hard-to-find specialties. Formaggio Kitchen is the store you want in your neighborhood. Which means you’re lucky if you live or work in East Cambridge near Kendall Square, because Formaggio Kitchen Kendall recently opened on Hampshire Street. Its arrival coincided with the 40th birthday of the flagship shop on Huron Ave. in Cambridge. (There’s another location in the South End and one in New York City’s Essex Street Market.) Owners Ihsan and Valeria Gurdal have been looking for a new spot for years, mostly to gain kitchen space for their catering business. The new store opening and the anniversary occurring at the same time was a coincidence, says GM Julia Hallman. “The stars aligned, and it just happened to be our 40th year,” she says. Because the retail space is smaller than the other Formaggios, the shop offers a carefully curated inventory. “It’s the bestsellers from both stores,” says Hallman. “It’s our greatest hits.” Cheese and charcuterie is still a focus, as well as high-quality staples and fresh breads from Iggy’s, Clear Flour, and Pain D’Avignon, and pints of ice cream from Jeni’s, Forge, and Maine’s Parlor Ice Cream Co. There are sandwiches and soups for lunch, and in the spring the shop plans to roll out a dinner menu. Hallman says the intent is to tailor the store to the community. The friendly staff has been talking to customers to get a handle on what products they want and which have been harder to find in the neighborhood. “We’re fighting against the faceless provider where people can get products with a click or go into a store and no one approaches you to ask if you need help. That’s not who we are,” says Hallman. 94 Hampshire St., Cambridge, 617-714-5758, www.formaggiokitchen.com ANN TRIEGER KURLAND

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