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Maybe your local grocery store is running a little low on your favorite foods. Maybe you’re looking for something special for an upcoming birthday or anniversary dinner. Maybe you’re whipping up a host of new recipes, on track to be the next Julia Child. Or maybe you just feel like ordering some great food.
Whatever the reason, there are great online specialty food stores that stock everything from steak, shrimp, and squab to stilton, cinnamon, and scones. These are the retailers that source carefully, sell proudly, and ship masterfully. Foodies, start your engines.
Rastelli’s started as a neighborhood butcher shop run by brothers Ray and Tony. Now, it’s a thriving online premium meat shop, sourced from around the world. All the meat is certified antibiotic-, steroid-, and hormone-free, and the seafood is wild-caught or sustainably raised in the wild.
Rastelli’s ensures freshness by blast-freezing, then vacuum-sealing and shipping on dry ice. The selections include the perfect fare for your summer barbecues—think ribeyes, steak craft burgers, Maine lobster tails, wild-caught albacore tuna, chicken breasts and thighs, pork chops, pre-cooked barbecue ribs, and even plant-based meat for the vegetarians. If you’re a meat-lover looking to try something new or throwing a feast, Rastelli’s may just become your favorite place on the internet. Get out your steak knives!
The gifts section of the site is particularly appealing, with guides and gift boxes carefully curated for every recipient: grill masters, coworkers, cocktail enthusiasts—the list goes on. You can even sign someone up for a subscription for a gift that keeps on giving. There's something for everyone at MOUTH.
D’Artagnan has been championing meat raised with free-range, natural production and sustainable, humane farming practices for over 30 years. The company boasts that all the four-star restaurants in New York City serve D’Artagnan meats, and it’s not hard to see why.
For the adventurous eaters seeking a taste of the wild side, D’Artagnan will especially be of interest—they sell a wide range of wild game meats like pheasant, venison, bison, quail, capon, and more. And, it’s not just one cut of each! For the quail, for instance, you can choose from quail eggs, French jumbo quail, semi-boneless quail, and whole quail. Think of it as heaven for carnivore foodies.
Vital Choice was founded in 2001 “on the premise that wild Alaskan salmon is nature's most perfect food.” Whether you share that belief or not, the site's seafood selection is exceptional. It only sells wild-caught, sustainable fish, that’s been ethically sourced. You can find salmon, halibut, lingcod, sablefish, haddock, and more, plus shellfish and seaweed.
Order filets, whole fish, burgers, sausage, poke, smoked salmon, canned and pouched fish, supplements like fish oil, and more. Among the salmon options, choose from wild sockeye, wild pacific, smoked, roe, wild Alaskan silver, wild Alaskan arctic keta, jerky, and more. Whatever seafood you’re looking for, Vital Choice likely has it.
If you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, the selection may be overwhelming
For cheese lovers who need to find that cheese they had on vacation last summer, iGourmet is the place. It’s also the best destination for discovering new favorites—you can search for cheese by country, by milk, by texture, by type, and even to pair with your favorite wines.
There are even pairing assortments—you can buy one to pair with Champagne, with merlot, with chardonnay, with pinot noir. You can buy a Scandinavian cheese assortment or an assortment of cheeses in the colors of the rainbow, or you can buy cheese in bulk.
Pricey shipping, even if you’re only ordering a few things
Di Bruno Bros is Philadelphia’s best-known specialty foods store and practically wrote the book on Italian specialty products. As Anthony Bourdain said of the shop, “[You] open the door and see mozzarell', some proscuitt', hanging provolone, and a deli counter ... But holy crap, they have so much more.”
For those looking to put together a Nonna-approved antipasti spread, Di Bruno Bros has everything you need to make an impressive starter platter. From their house made prosciutto stuffed pepper shooters to olives, roasted peppers, and all the cured meat you could ask for, you'll have the perfect start to a stunning Italian spread.
Doesn’t feel as handmade as some of the other options
This New England-based company sells a wide variety of delicious sauces, toppings, and condiments. Though we love the store most for its jarred jams and salsas (the founders got their start selling jellies at farmers' markets), it also offers so much more: mustards, grill marinades, pasta sauces, cocktail sauces, relishes, vinaigrettes, specialty oils, salad dressings, etc.
On the sweeter side, there's honey, dessert toppings, maple syrups, pancake mixes, and desserts. Plus, you can also shop tableware, kitchen tools, and appliances.
Whether you’re trying out recipes from a new world cuisine or just looking to stock a spice cabinet at a new apartment, Spice House is a one-stop shop for anything you might need. Browse the brand's myriad options, agonizing over whether you want Kampot black peppercorns or Kampot red peppercorns, or simply buy a collection like the “Essential Spices” or “Barbecue Deluxe.”
You can find taco seasoning, fajita seasoning, a Louisiana creole blend, or Jamaican jerk seasoning. Search by family, region, specialty, or use. Each entry is complete with a helpful description, a beautiful photo, and linked recipes.
Buying from some of the best restaurants in country
Many options to choose from
What We Don't Like
The selection can be a bit dizzying
Things can go out of stock quickly
Goldbelly’s mission is to bring people comfort through food. The approach? Sell food from the best restaurants across the country, shipped directly to people’s doors. You can order from Shake Shack, Katz’s Deli in New York (you will have what she’s having), Central Grocery in New Orleans, and Phil’s Fish Market in California.
Goldbelly is especially great for sweet treats and baked goods. Get cupcakes from New York’s Magnolia Bakery, cheesecake from the Times Square favorite Junior’s Cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies from Willa Jean in New Orleans, hot and spicy cheese bread from Stella’s of Madison, Wisconsin, biscuits from Savannah’s The Grey, and more.
Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is not as well-known as some of the other spots on the list, but it's an icon in its own right. Established in 1978 in the style of European shops, its first claim to fame was having Julia Child as a loyal customer—she even attended the opening of the cheese caves.
Formaggio’s buyers hunt down the best artisanal food from Europe, the US, and beyond. That ethos extends to its oils—you’ll find the freshest and most flavorful olive oil, black and white truffle oil, walnut and hazelnut oil, and more. Prepare to be amazed.
Huge selection, which may seem overwhelming to some
If you’re a fan of Italian food, you likely already know of Eataly. What you may not know is that the shop's stellar hand-picked Italian foods are also available online. The pasta selection is, well, extensive. You may even find it overwhelming. There are many variations on the most recognizable pastas—think spaghetti, linguini, penne, rigatoni, etc.
There are also lesser-known kinds like scurcuzun (which, according to the website is “pasta obtained from a high-quality durum wheat semolina dough dried [at] low temperatures, and cut into slightly irregular shapes”), and mafalde (long sheets of pasta with elegant scalloped edges). There are also all sorts of flavored pastas, from lemon to truffle, organic options, and pastas made with 100 percent Italian grain. This is the real deal, pasta-wise.
Rastelli's is the go-to source for all things meat. It's the next best thing if you don't have access to a specialty butcher shop. If you're in the market for gift-worthy specialty foods, Mouth has an extensive collection of curated sets to please the foodies in your life.
What do you look for when buying specialty foods?
Most people who are shopping at specialty food stores aren’t doing so in order to find lower prices. You’ll generally pay more because the products are made on a smaller scale and with better ingredients. They also tend to be more sustainable. That said, there are sometimes sales and many shops offer a discount if you sign up for their newsletters.
Part of the appeal of specialty food stores is buying products with a story. The food should be flavorful and special. There will often be tasting notes, information about the producer, and maybe even notes on seasonal or batch variations. In other words, you should understand why you’re paying more for this product than you would for the grocery store version.
More bad news if you’re on a budget: Shipping tends to be pricier for these items, especially more perishable goods, like meat and cheese. Some bigger shops offer better shipping prices, due to their volume. Think of it this way: If you’re spending the money for a special food item, you want to make sure that it will be in prime condition when it arrives, so you can fully enjoy it. This usually means a combination of faster shipping and more packaging, so your food stays cold. You can generally find information about packaging and shipping options in a retailer's FAQ or shipping section of its website.
Many specialty food stores will have more variety in their products. You may have double or even triple the options that you’d have at a grocery store. But, they may be less consistent than your grocery store, since specialty food tends to be made on a smaller scale, meaning it’s more susceptible to changes in season, staffing, and distribution. If something is out of stock, you can usually email customer service for more information on when it will return.
What is a specialty food store?
A specialty food store is a retailer that carries food items with more limited distribution. They're also of a higher average quality than what you’d find in a grocery store. Some of the food may overlap with what you’d find at a grocery store, but in general, there will be harder-to-find items that are made on a smaller scale.
What is poke?
In Hawaiian, poke (pronounced poh-KAY) means “to cut into slices.” Poke is slices or chunks of raw, marinated fish.
What do quail eggs taste like?
Quail eggs, which are smaller than chicken eggs, have a slightly gamier flavor.
Writer and professional cheese eater Christine Clark is a food nerd—she loves finding new gems made by small producers and, unfortunately for her bank account, tends to be willing to pay whatever it takes to try them. At one point, she owned more than 50 honeys.
Christine teaches cheese, wine, and pairing classes throughout the United States and has a cheese podcast dedicated to it. She is a Certified Cheese Professional through the American Cheese Society.