O'LevaThe international selection at the farmers’ market, the popularity of great local restaurants like Mohamed Ali’s and Saigon Bistro, and even the line-ups at the new Thai Express in the Avalon Mall all point to the fact that foodies in St. John’s want to eat an ever-widening variety of eats.

But it’s still not that easy to make international meals at home – as anybody who has tried to buy fresh cilantro at a local supermarket in February knows.

But St. John’s has specialty food shops that many residents might never know about if they don’t venture beyond supermarkets. We can buy specialty olive oils on Torbay Road, imported Asian ingredients on Duckworth Street and in Churchill Square, and a variety of meats downtown. And as the city’s immigrant population continues to grow and longtime residents keep exploring the huge variety the world has to offer, those offerings should only expand. Below are a couple of standouts.


If you’ve only had olive oil purchased at a supermarket, you might not know what all the fuss is about. Visiting O’Leva Oils and Vins Tasting Room (390 Torbay Road) and sampling some of their oils and vinegars will show you why some people get incredibly passionate about olive oil. O’Leva sells single variety extra virgin olive oils along with a selection of artisan balsamic vinegars and flavoured oils like Tuscan Herb and Chipotle. They also sell other specialty food products like seasonings and preserves. Owners Cheryl and Jennifer Pardy can guide you in tasting the different oils to understand the subtle variations in them, and can also suggest pairings of oils and vinegars with tips on how to use them in your cooking. For example, the featured pairing at O’Leva for May is Persian Lime Olive Oil with Honey Ginger White Balsamic, which they suggest as a topping for fruit salad or a marinade for chicken or salmon.


Having celebrated its 100th anniversary last year, Halliday’s (103 Gower Street) is a local institution – a legitimate, family-run butcher shop at a time when they’re increasingly rare in Canada.

Back in its earlier days, regular customers would place their orders during the week, often coming in daily to get the meat for that night’s dinner, and settle up on paydays. In those times Halliday’s offered everything from meat to local dairy and eggs from the family farm. The farm closed in the ‘70s, but the shop is still the go-to for meat butchered the way you like it, where you can have a real customer-seller relationship with the people behind the counter. And you’ll still get your chosen cuts wrapped in classic brown butcher paper. You can also pick up prepared foods like traditional puddings and pies, and a variety of sausages. If you’ve got a hankering for blood pudding, now you know where to find the best in town.

Taste East Inc (205 New Gower St.)
Magic Wok Grocery (238 Duckworth St.)
Noseworthy Hans Grocery & Meats (626 Southside Rd.)
Just Goody Mart (173 Elizabeth Ave. Unit C)