A young guy wearing a baseball hat enthusiastically welcomed me as I wandered into Snap Top Market in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon. Immediately, tiny chocolate-bottomed, snow-white meringues dusted in glitter caught my eye (as shiny things are wont to do). Stacked into a pyramid, the tiny ribbon-adorned boxes came from Babycakes & Confections in Stow, MA. As I meandered around further, I realized that this little market abounds with locally produced items.
Snap Top Market is a small specialty food and produce store with big ideas for fresh and local food. The market specializes in bringing “local produce and awesome food products to Boston’s South End neighborhood.” Since the store opened just four months ago, owner Steve Napoli has been fulfilling its mission to provide the highest quality and freshest produce available to Boston. Napoli recognized the importance of producing and offering fresh, good food while growing up on his family’s farm, Idylwilde Farms in Acton, MA. He has since moved these values from the farm to the city. It is Napoli who arranges the fruits and vegetables into perfectly stacked pyramids. He’s the one in the baseball hat welcoming customers. He rings up customers’ finds as cashier. The Boston Globe referred to Napoli as a “solo act.” Impressive already, Napoli is only 26 years old.
Though the space is small, the setup of Snap Top Market is open, with high ceilings and an unfinished, country feel. It is reminiscent of a secret cellar filled with the most perfect fruits and vegetables one has ever seen (like, Garden-of-Eden-perfect) and other delectable treasures. Rows of bright red Anjou pears balance atop one another next to a gorgeous holiday-inspired tower of Satsuma mandarins. Old wooden apple crates attached to the walls serve as shelves that hold an eclectic mix of seasonal and gourmet goodies from olive oils and pastas to salad dressings, jams, and pâtés. Repurposed peach crates are makeshift baskets that cradle perfect Granny Smith apples, boxes of crackers, jars of fig spread, locally-produced shortbread cookies, and more. Napoli also stocks other local treats including Massachusetts-made Quinn Popcorn, Lark’s Cookies, Katalyst Kombucha, Nashoba Bakery bread, and 100% grass-fed beef jerky from Slantshack in Vermont. A small refrigerator case offers different types of hummus, dips, dairy items, and ready-to-eat bagged greens and already-cut vegetables. Snap Top’s cheese selection is impressive and includes everyday varieties along with fancier options like Cranberry Wensleydale and cheeses blended with honey and fig.
Napoli still has big plans for his market, though. “[The store] is not exactly where I want it to be just yet. I’m hoping by next summer to have a large refrigerated section with prepared foods, but it’s a good start.” And a good start it is. The diverse selection of items is refreshing, and while Snap Top Market may not necessarily be a one-stop-shop for every food need, it is definitely the place to go if you’re craving a feast for the eyes and palate (or if you’re just wondering where to find honey-roasted cashews). Walkable from the Tufts Boston campus, Snap Top Market is open everyday. Hours can be found on their website.
Snap Top Market
303 Columbus Ave
Boston, MA 02116
Michelina (Mimi) DelGizzi is a first-year MS/MPH student who admittedly had a geek-out moment when she met Steve Napoli, the owner of Snap Top Market, for this review. Easily star-struck, she loves cheese and non sequiturs.