Somerville’s quirkiest neighborhood has got to be Union Square. That’s where you’ll find the Fluff festival, a non-profit community craft studio called Artisan’s Asylum, one speakeasy and a castle (ok, the Prospect Hill Monument). Union Square has a personality all its own. And a large part of its unique flavor comes from the many immigrants who live and work in the neighborhood.
I wanted to learn more about Union Square, so I asked Rachel Strutt to give me a tour. She’s a blogger, author and program manager at the Somerville Arts Council. She took me everywhere from the Neighborhood Restaurant, where they make wine from their grape arbor, to Capone Foods, where owner Al Capone (yep, that’s his real name) sells delicious handmade pastas from his ancestral Italy and empanadas from his native Argentina.
My search for unusual international food brought me to Dosa Temple, an Indian eatery at the edge of the square. While most Indian restaurants in the U.S. serve North Indian dishes (Tandoori chicken, anyone?), at Dosa Temple they serve South Indian food. In addition to offering an uncommon cuisine, Dosa Temple is a vegetarian’s paradise—Chef Siva Kumar serves all-vegetarian entrees without trying to adapt meat dishes into bland vegetable-based alternatives. Not only does Chef Siva use traditional recipes, he also employs traditional culinary techniques. He makes large, crepe-like dosas by hand on a flat top grill, as is done in India. He also makes dough for his lentil doughnuts in a large stone grinder, and he makes a vermicelli noodle dessert that was so good that I had to be torn away or there would have been none left for the rest of the crew!
Union Square is a wonderful place to visit for new culinary and cultural experiences. There is such a diversity of food in the neighborhood that a recently published book, Nibble, tells the story of Union Square through its culinary offerings. From Portuguese to Haitian to Peruvian to South Indian, it's all there for you to try in Somerville.
*****Watch Neighborhood Kitchens online to learn more about Dosa Temple in Somerville's Union Square.
*Since filming, the Union Square restaurant has reopened under new ownership as Dosa N Curry. The Ashland location remains Dosa Temple.
VISIT NEIGHBORHOOD KITCHENS