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Meredith Goad

Meredith Goad has harvested oysters on the Chesapeake Bay, eaten reindeer in Finland and sipped hot chai in the Himalayas. She writes the weekly Soup to Nuts column and enjoys a good cocktail.

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Posted: July 25, 2016

Nina’s Variety in Falmouth gets fast food right

Written by: Meredith Goad
A calzone with meatballs, green peppers and black olives from Nina's Variety in Falmouth. Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

A calzone with meatballs, green peppers and black olives from Nina’s Variety in Falmouth. Photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

When one thinks of Falmouth, one of Maine’s toniest towns, one doesn’t usually conjure up images of hot dogs, Maine Italians and baseball caps that say “Wicked Pissah.” But variety stores are the great leveler in this part of the country – community gathering places where BMWs rub bumpers with more casual clunkers.

I’ve lived not far from Nina’s for the past 10 years, and while I drive by it all the time – it sits just off I-295 at the convergence of Bucknam Road, Middle Road and Falmouth Road – I’d never set foot in the place. I decided it was time to remedy that and stopped by one night after work to pick up a calzone for dinner.

Although it’s called Nina’s Variety, most of the goods inside are food and drink, except for a few obligatory packs of batteries, headache remedies and cigarettes behind the counter. It’s one of those places that’s perfect for picking up basic takeout on the way home. By basic, I mean you shouldn’t be expecting authentic Thai cuisine or gourmet pizza. This is the kind of place where you stop to get a simple burger and fries, chicken tenders for the kids, mac and cheese, pizza or an American chop suey dinner. On your way to the register, pick up some beer or a bottle of wine (or, like me, a Capt’n Eli’s Blueberry Pop), along with some dessert.

Nina’s carries a variety of baked goods, including cookies, whoopie pies, muffins, turnovers and cream horns. (You’ll want a cookie when you see the peanut butter ones with Reese’s cups baked into them.) You can also make your own ice cream sandwich with Nina’s cookies and ice cream from Shain’s of Maine. There are so many ice cream choices (sundaes, shakes, cones) the place is almost half ice cream parlor. There were eight flavors available the night I was there, along with Mason jars on the counter filled with a variety of toppings. Warning: Ice cream is cash only, according to a sign on the counter.

The menu here is huge; it’s posted above the store’s small kitchen and on its Facebook page. It’s divided into categories such as hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, Italian sandwiches, pizza, fried foods, from the grill, specialty wraps and breakfast sandwiches. Nearly everything is well under $10. (A pair of bacon cheeseburgers will set you back $10.99.) Weekly specials are posted on a chalkboard. On Thursdays, for example, you can get three regular Italians for $12.99.

I ordered a calzone with pepperoni and mushrooms. The mushrooms were canned, but for $7.59 it was a deal. The crust was lighter than I expected and baked through, not doughy. The calzone was huge, enough to feed two people with average appetites. A hungry adult male could probably eat the whole thing in one sitting, but I could only get through half and saved the rest for another day.

There are a few stools in the back if you want to hang out and eat your lunch or dinner there, maybe eavesdrop on some local gossip. But most people appeared to be picking up something quick to take home for dinner.

Nina’s won’t be the best food you’ve had all year, but for what it is, it’s perfectly fine – appetizing, fast and easy on your budget.


NINA’S VARIETY

WHERE: 125 Bucknam Road, Falmouth; 781-9906
HOURS: 5:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday
WAIT: 15 minutes for a calzone
PARKING: Small parking lot
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

 

 

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