The Northampton Shopping Blog is a new feature on our website which profiles various downtown Northampton shops, restaurants, and services. Check back here frequently as we will be updating this segment with new content often!
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Viva Fresh Pasta started out as a fresh pasta take-away on Martha's Vineyard in 1984, moved to Northampton in 1986, and settled into their current full-service restaurant location at Main & Masonic Streets in 1991. Originally focused on supplying both retail and wholesale clients with freshly-made pasta and sauces, Viva Fresh Pasta has been gracing the plates of many fine meals prepared both in private and professional kitchens for nearly 30 years.
Viva sets it's guests up with a broad range of choices - diners can choose from set selections, or mix & match pastas and sauces to suit their specific tastes. Knowledgeable staff are happy to advise as to suitable pairings of pasta, sauces, and beverages.
Fresh pasta being Viva's specialty, I was surprised to find that they also offer their own take on tapas. Like the traditional Spanish cuisine, each freshly prepared dish is a pleasing combination of vibrant flavors and delightfully distinct textures. The generous portions encourage sharing. One could easily make a meal off the tapas menu alone, and having a dinner of shared tapas while enjoying a glass of wine at the bar is a very alluring dining option.
Immediately enamored with the wild mushroom and walnut ravioli, my husband and I both decide that it will be the featured dish at our next dinner party. While trying to match the selection of 30+ wines that Viva has on offer may be a little more challenging, impressing friends and family with meals made of fresh, handmade pasta is as easy as stopping by Viva Fresh Pasta on the way home to pick-up your favorite variety... The fact that you didn't have to spend hours laboring in the kitchen to craft each perfect noodle can be our little secret.
Connect with Viva Fresh Pasta on Facebook, or visit thier location at 249 Main Street, in downtown Northampton. Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner, Monday through Thursday 11am -0pm, Friday and Saturday 11am - 10pm, and Sunday 4pm - 9pm. 413-586-5875 - full service restaurant - large selection of beer and wine - fresh pasta available for take-away.
Unite Footwear is an elegantly curated shop that features mature street wear. It also happens to be the place where I found the most incredibly cute pair of sneakers that I have ever seen in my life! Made by Veja of organic cotton and styled as a saddle-shoe, I am confident that I have the most stylin' kicks of anyone at any given time, anywhere!
But Unite isn't only about shoes - they also feature apparel for both men and women, headphones, watches, backpacks, sunglasses, raw denim jeans, and jewellery crafted by local artists. Everything is carefully selected for it's quality and aesthetic appeal, and most items represent a crossover between being stylish and functional, with enlightened sustainable choices. Many of the items are made by companies with ethical practices, and/or feature recycled, sustainable materials.
In conjunction with the gallery-like atmosphere, Unite hosts a monthly art show as part of Northampton's Arts Night Out event. Seeing how the clean, uncluttered space acts not only as a retail outlet but also as a cultural hang-out, it is no surprise that every time I have visited the shop I have had the pleasure of meeting creative, artistic people who work in fields as varied as animation and game design, to playing live jazz and big-band music.
Currently showcasing contemporary styled backpacks and bags by Herschel, Hex, Kelty Vintage and more, Unite will see you back to school or off to work in style!
Connect with Unite on Facebook, or visit thier retail location at 202 Main Street, in downtown Northampton. Open 7 days a week, 12:00pm - 6:00pm, Sundays until 5pm. 413-585-5774 - Online shopping available.
Whether I am looking for a gift, a sweet treat to bring to a dinner party, or feel like I deserve a reward for getting through some sort of challenge or another, good chocolate always seems to fit the bill. Aw, who am I kidding? I really don't need a reason to indulge in good chocolate. And with all of its health benefits, there's really no guilt involved with this pleasure.
My desire for good, quality, handmade chocolate led me to Heavenly Chocolate in Thornes Marketplace. What started out as a hobby for owner and chocolatier Bud Stockwell has now blossomed into a gourmet chocolate destination, with confections that run the gamut from sublime to positively spicy! The glass cases of this kiosk shop feature a dazzling array of over 50 unique and inventive flavour combinations: from rosemary-infused caramel squares studded with roasted cacao nibs, to hibiscus pink-peppercorn and tamarind-chili truffles, to a selection of assorted Vegan chocolates, there is certainly something to please most everyone's palate.
While all of the chocolate confections are handmade right here in Northampton, don't overlook the premium chocolate bars that are also on offer at Heavenly Chocolate. Like all of the pure and oftentimes organic ingredients used to make the truffles, the bars are selected for their quality. Chocolate should engage all of your senses, and my taste of Francois Pralus' Cuban Tinitario 75% does just that - it one of the richest, smoothest chocolate bars that I have ever tasted. I have to agree with with Bud's evaluation that this particular bar "screams what chocolate should be."
The next time you have a hankering for chocolate - and we all know there doesn't have to be a reason for it - stop by Heavenly Chocolate and enjoy a little piece of heaven right here in downtown Northampton!
Connect with Heavenly Chocolate on Facebook, or drop by to sample these heavely treats yourself at thier kiosk location, located on level 1 of Thornes Marketplace, 150 Main Street, in downtown Northampton. Open 7 days a week, 10am - 8pm, Sundays until 5pm. 413-586-3800 - Online shopping available.
The first thing you notice when you step into The Artisan Gallery is that it is housed in a much larger space than it's storefront suggests. The second thing you notice is the sheer variety of carefully curated works on display; and the third thing you notice is how each of these items, the staff, and even the space itself exudes an open, honest warmth - this could be no more obvious than on that chilly March afternoon when I first walked into the gallery while on a shopping safari of downtown Northampton with my visiting mother-in-law
It wasn't long before we found ourselves both intrigued and entertained by the vast selection of jewellery, artworks, clothing, ceramics, and furnishings; each speaking out to us with it's own individual character, seemingly wanting to tell us it's own story of how it came to be.
Indeed, The Artisan Gallery takes great pride in educating it's customers as to what exactly goes into each and every item that they feature. With 4 exhibitions per year plus their annual Cup & Mug Show, there is plenty of opportunity to learn about the back-story to each of these artworks.
My mother-in-law found a sweet pair of earrings to remind her of her first trip to New England, while I left lusting after the hand-turned cherry wood French-style rolling pins made by a craftsperson in Vermont, and a note to pick up one of the adorable Woolbuddy Do-It-Yourself felting kits as a hostess gift for the next time that I visit with one of my crafty friends - fortunately, they have as many different kits as I have crafty friends to visit!
Connect with The Artisan Gallery on Facebook, or drop by the gallery located at 162 Main Street, in downtown Northampton. Open 7 days a week, hours vary. (413) 586-1942