Giulio Pellegrini will never retire.
At least that’s what his employees will tell you. Pellegrini and his family have been running The Farmland — a small grocery store, deli, and bakery in Wakefield — for 35 years.
On most days, Pellegrini’s wife, Maria, can be found working in the store’s kitchen, while his sons, Mino and Frank, are typically making sandwiches behind the deli counter. Although it started out as a produce market with a small Italian deli, The Farmland now includes seven aisles of groceries, catering services, a deli and butcher shop, and a full-service bakery.
The Pellegrinis’ passion for their store plays a big part in its longevity, but the slew of deli sandwiches and salads, fresh produce, variety of groceries, and indulgent baked goods helps, too. One visit to The Farmland makes it clear why locals voted it the town’s Best Grocery Store in an online survey last year.
But The Farmland is more than just a grocery store. The shop offers more gourmet and pantry items than its franchise counterparts, at reasonable prices to boot. Items like Natural Harvest pickles, gourmet jams and chutneys, spices, fresh cheeses, and coffee beans you can grind on-site are just a few of the items gracing the shelves.
The real treats at The Farmland, though, are its deli and bakery.
The deli counter boasts prepared meals, salads, calzones, and made-to-order sandwiches. There’s a variety of sub and sandwich options, but any combination of cold cuts is available by request. Carnivores will also appreciate the premium meats and seafood.
Meatless options at the deli counter are scarce, although a few exist. I tried the meatless sandwich ($3.15) on a bulkie roll with “everything,” which consisted of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers, cheese, dill pickles, and white onion. The sandwich was lightly slathered with a flavorful vinaigrette, which helped add some zest to this otherwise bland sandwich.
The second deli item I tried was the half-size of the spinach, cheese, and mushroom calzone ($5.50), which was a massive entity stuffed with noticeably prefrozen spinach and canned mushrooms. The unimpressive stuffing was somewhat saved by the wonderfully crispy, slightly addictive crust.
The Farmland’s deli counter offers a wide variety of salads, ranging from the typical potato salad ($2.79/pound) to the more distinctive asparagus vinaigrette ($6/pound).
Given the season, I opted for the asparagus, which was perfectly crunchy and ideally dressed with the vinegar dressing. Unfortunately, the dressing lacked seasoning and a sprinkling of salt was desperately needed to give this salad some much-needed flavor.
Past the deli is the bakery, where clear glass cases are piled high with treats like mini éclairs, cannoli, cream puffs, cookies, and cakes.
A slice of the pistachio cheesecake ($3.50) is worth every indulgent mouthful.
The crunchy pistachios throughout were a welcome texture against the smooth, creamy cheesecake, and the dollop of pistachio whipped cream and chocolate drizzle on top were delightful additions.
The Farmland’s bakery also features essentials such as homemade breads, candies, locally made frozen custard from Chilly Cow, and Sicilian-style pizza by the slice ($1.50).
Whether you’re looking to escape the supermarket chain crowds, grab dessert or salad for a dinner party, or simply treat yourself to a slice of cheesecake, The Farmland is a great place to visit.
Be sure to say hello to Giulio while you’re there, too — after all, it doesn’t sound like he’ll be going anywhere any time soon.Michelle Collins is a food writer and professional chef who runs The Economical Eater blog (www.theecon