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[Cheap Eats]

Gloria Foods
The Mediterranean comes to Malden

on the cheap
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Mention high-quality Italian food, and most people conjure up images of the North End. But Gloria Foods, a deli and market in Malden Center, shows there’s unexpected life to Mediterranean cuisine just a few stops down on the Orange Line. The décor is unprepossessing, with a linoleum floor and huge signs advertising the price of meat per pound. In the corner, you’ll find a bizarre combination of Italian products, from exotic pasta sauces (From Antica Italia’s vodka-tomato-cream sauce for $3.99) and cheap wine (Gallo white merlot, three bottles for $10) to Chef Boyardee Homestyle Rigatoni ($1.19 per can). And an entire wall is devoted to a massive refrigerated beverage case, stocked with every conceivable soft drink, not to mention alcohol (though you can’t imbibe in the store).

But the action’s in the back, where at lunchtime workers gather for their fix of subs, salads, and American classics like cheeseburgers ($4). The mammoth sandwich specials, including roast beef on thick-sliced scali bread ($5.95), are stuffed to the brim with meat, peppers, onions, and provolone, and flavored with basil and oregano. The caesar salad with chicken ($4.25) rises above the ordinary with its unusual teriyaki flavoring and crunchy, generously apportioned croutons. All salads come with pita bread and — dieters’ dream — it’s assumed that you want your dressing on the side. The tomato-and-rice soup ($2.50/small) is Gloria’s one weak spot, merely passable when everything else excels. But the arancini — huge, fist-size rice balls mixed with cheese and spinach or broccoli — more than make up for it ($2.25 apiece, or $2.75 doused in sauce and mozzarella). Hard to find in restaurants, they’re delicately flavored and large enough for a meal. Malden may not have the culinary prestige of Hanover Street, but Gloria Foods makes sure it has the quality.

Gloria Foods, located at 468 Main Street, in Malden, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call (781) 322-6967.

Issue Date: November 22 - 29, 2001

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