Monday, June 24, 2024

Maple soft serve ice cream at Momma’s Grocery + Wine in North Cambridge. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The summer may have cooled for the moment, but who knows what’s coming? If the heat returns, you’ll want to keep in mind a well-kept little secret of North Cambridge: maple soft serve at Momma’s Grocery + Wine.

You won’t see a soft serve machine when you enter the bodega-like storefront’s open, gorgeously spare space with an old-school tin ceiling. What’s displayed is ripe produce in bins and on tables; fresh, organic dairy in a fridge; and hosts of local farm-pressed wines, as Momma’s was opened this summer by Danielle Pattavina to celebrate local growers and vintners.

Momma’s gives the growers a space beyond farmers markets to sell in, reducing the cost and making it possible to get local, farm-fresh produce during more convenient hours – until 8 p.m. every day but Sunday, when the store closes at 6 p.m., as opposed to the limited hours and varying locales of a farmers market. 

The soft serve machine is behind the counter and in a cabinet, so unless you know or are told (though all are told as they enter) you could miss something special.

A produce display at Momma’s. (Photo: Tom Meek)

There are two flavors as of now: a perfectly Vermont-ish maple and a creamy smooth vanilla. (I don’t think one can use the word “creamy” enough when it comes to the pours at Momma’s.) Ask for a twist and find yourself in cow-created heaven. 

The maple is clearly there, but it’s not overwhelming as it is in many maple sugar confections. This is a clean, organic and not overly sugary goodness, not devoid like a diet soda but satisfying naturally instead of by using mass-produced add-ins. It’s like homemade ice cream from the old ice-bucket spinner, coming out in neatly coiled twirls, softly stacked and inviting – with a perfect elf-hat drop at the top. It comes right from a creamery in Vermont, and if you get a maple pull, it’ll likely be Pattavina getting it for you.

Pattavina, who owned and ran a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard, describes Momma’s as everything they’ve learned ”in one little store.”

As for the vino, Momma’s has a pretty decent offering of refreshing rieslings and the like that you won’t find most anywhere else; like Dear Annie down the way in Porter Square, the wines are curated with specific criteria – Annie’s is organic, women-owned wineries, and Momma’s favors the local. Momma’s also has a wine club you can subscribe to.

Momma’s Grocery + Wine, 2304 Massachusetts Ave., North Cambridge


Tom Meek is a writer living in Cambridge. His reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in the WBUR ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.