As much as we love to try new restaurants on-Island, the sourcing of ingredients to cook in our own homes is just as exciting, and can be even more important than going out for a meal. Limited grocery options narrow it down to Cronig’s Market, Reliable Market, Edgartown Meat & Fish Market, and Stop and Shop, with the addition of farmer’s markets during the season. While walking around Vineyard Haven, I stumbled across Vineyard Grocer, and discovered that the world of health foods awaits.
Walking in without an appointment for an interview, I just wanted to walk the aisles and see their offerings. Luckily, owner Elio G. Silva was at the counter, and kindly walked around with me, explaining the store’s concept. Misconceptions include that it’s just a Brazilian foods market, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Vineyard Grocer is really a health food store and market, where you’ll find handcrafted, small-batch brands with a mix of organic and gourmet, along with high-quality meats, fresh produce, and more. I can understand the misconception; they do serve Brazilian lunches to go, along with a variety of Brazilian breads and desserts baked in house. But that probably takes up 5 percent of the store; the rest is sourced by store manager Mark Ripa and by Elio’s suggestions.
In business since 1991 and with over nine years at the current location on State Road, Vineyard Grocer puts love and care into everything in this market. Nothing is an afterthought; even the ripening process of avocados is considered. You can find a perfectly ripe, ready-to-eat avocado every day at Vineyard Grocer. Elio has created a method where his avocados are not refrigerated until they are perfectly ripe. And you won’t have to pay $3.29 for an avocado (you actually pay $2 less), and they don’t have to sit on the tabletop for a week until you can eat them. It’s a small thing to mention, but we all know avocados are Mother Nature’s most delicious product; it’s safe to say you needed to know this tidbit.
I was surprised to see so many healthy brands showcased on the shelves as I walked through the store. They include brands I have seen nowhere else on-Island, brands I’ve researched and ordered online.
“Our focus is to work with employee-owned companies, with small artisan brands we discover in our travels and at health food shows,” Elio said as we strolled through the store.
Listening to customers is also key to this business. One grateful customer stopped Elio while we were talking and thanked him for getting the specific anchovies she loved. It’s the customer service that I think sets Vineyard Grocer apart.
Another thing that sets them apart is their in-house baked goods. Sure, local bakeries bake their own products, but it’s nice to see a gourmet health food market going that extra mile. Whether you’re looking for great bread to make subs or a variety of cookies and cakes for a dessert platter, this is the place to go. While some are traditional Brazilian treats, others include classics like angel food cake and more. As I took a sneak peek into their bakery and kitchen, the aroma nearly knocked me over. Nothing, and I mean nothing, smells better than freshly baked bread.
Since I’ve referred to Vineyard Grocer as a ”gourmet health food market,” you might be wondering what’s so healthy about it. The brands that Elio and his team stock on the shelves are of the highest quality — from Bob’s Red Mill to Navitas Natural, you’ll find cocoa butter, organic grains, vegan cookies, and much more. I could have spent hours just shopping and daydreaming of the things I could make with the ingredients.
If you have yet to stop by Vineyard Grocer, make it a point to visit this week. It’s located on 294 State Road in Vineyard Haven, and you can follow them on Facebook for updates: facebook.com/pg/VineyardGrocerHealthFoodStore.