Formaggio Kitchen (Seasonal BBQ)

On Thursday afternoons, when our eyes start glazing over and visions of the weekend’s dawdling brunches enter our daydreams, we’re comforted knowing that the Formaggio Kitchen team has already started cooking our Saturday lunch. That’s right—two days beforehand, succulent cuts of pork and beef are already being smoked over wood chips. The following day, a twelve-hour slow-cooking process begins.

Hot dogs from Formaggio Kitchen BBQ

By Saturday morning those hand-pulled meat shreds are mingling with sauce and spices in giant bubbling pots on the sidewalk. And as the smell of BBQ wafts through the streets of West Cambridge, the hungry hordes creep toward Formaggio like zombies. There’s a line by 11 a.m. when the food’s ready, and it won’t shorten until the hastily scribbled dry-erase-board menu dwindles down to smudges and the meat’s all gone.

We’ve come to expect nothing but the best from this tiny-yet-famous specialty grocer, whose buyers traverse continents to source products directly from farmers and makers. With the world’s highest-quality ingredients at their disposal, chefs here work wonders with rubs and sauces—just watch those thick, pepper-crusted St. Louis pork ribs get smothered in BBQ sauce before being thrown back on the grill. Formaggio’s international expertise shines through, too, especially in the sides: a béchamel- and nutmeg-driven mac ’n’ cheese, sweet cornmeal-studded cornbread cooked in muffin tins, and “lamejun,” an Armenian flatbread.

Ribs from Formaggio Kitchen

It’s street food served in to-go containers, reminding us that the most brilliant BBQ sheds exterior frivolities in favor of time and patience. Unlike many of the fancy-pants specialty products inside the store, this food doesn’t beg to be presented on porcelain plates or fancy linens. All you’ll need are some plastic forks. And napkins—lots of them.

food from Formaggio Kitchen BBQ

You can pre-order and skip the line. For more than six people, order by Wednesday. For less than six people, order by Thursday at 4 p.m. Your bag will be pre-packaged, so no grilled items (i.e., sausages or hot dogs).

This is strictly a summer affair (circa March-October), so you’ll probably be picnicking. We like to meander down past West Cambridge’s mansions and eat at grassy Lowell Park.

Impressed with Formaggio’s repertoire? Head to their website. From cheeses to exotic spices to obscure imported grains, the online shop is packed full of exclusive items from around the world. (And it’s the perfect place to find gifts for gourmands.)

Must Haves

  • We love how there are actual juicy chunks of meat here, not just strings drowned in sauce. Say yes to topping with an additional squirt of sauce and some onions. (Just don’t plan on eating it in your hands like a regular sandwich.)

  • Why did we ever invent hot dog buns when hot dogs and baguettes were so obviously made for each other?

  • The classy kind—mild and creamy and perfect for sharing fork space with a sauce-covered morsel of meat.

Fun Fact

Surprised to see that the potato salad is “Turkish”? Formaggio Kitchen is actually owned by Ishan Gurdal, a native of Istanbul.

Tastes of Formaggio Kitchen (Seasonal BBQ)

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