Blog Post Photo, Phyllis Exiting Castroni, Rome, Italy

Shopping: Italian Style

You know all the favourite little places you have for picking up the things you need or don’t know you need until you see it; the places you have been cultivating for a long time, getting to know the owners, customers coming and going, speaking Italian, practicing your Italian? You’re having so much fun that even if you didn’t need anything, you leave with bags of stuff? Yeah…I’m addicted to those places!

And then, HORRORS…for example they start dumbing down their dried pasta selections, bringing in lesser quality brands and so you just stop going. Or one of your little places must re-locate due to redevelopment but instead of that they decide to close down. We found out when we ran into the new owner of Adelina’s who explained to us she would close the shop at the end of August. Adelina, the original owner of the shop retired a couple of years ago. The new owner was a non-Italian woman who worked in the store with her.  So…slowly, changes were taking place place with more non-Italian products on the shelves. Still, in the mornings the same old crew of customers, some Italian, some not, stopped by to stock up their “dispensa” for the week.  It was a sad end to many long years Adelina, the original owner had spent developing her business.

On the very day we learnt of that closure, we made our very first visit to an Italian shop called Renzullo Food Market that, for some reason, we had not been to before. We are still scratching our heads as to how it’s possible we could have missed them, since they have been on Nanaimo St. since 1964 for goodness sake! A family owned business with a full deli of Italian salumi, cheeses, panino either to take out or eat in, espresso, a big old table to sit at, extra virgin olive oil in a big vat that is available by the liter, dried pasta and all sorts of jarred and tinned products. Not needing anything that day we left with dried pasta, prosciutto, both crudo and cotto, salami, a hunk of Pecorino, a liter of said olive oil…remember, I did say we didn’t actually need anything? The ownders, Merella and Franco are fabulous, very warm and friendly…chatting you up.  We had a great time just shopping! The only thing missing were the vats of vino sfuso, aka loose wine like you can get in some Italian grocery stores in Italy, Just show up with your empties, refill and off you go.

On the way home with not-needed bags of stuff, we couldn’t help but reminisce about another little, family owned placed we used to go to all the time called Guiseppe’s on E. Hastings St. We loved this place, not only for the variety of Italian products and a pretty decent lunch, but because of Vitto, the owner, who hailed from Bari, Italy. His wife ran the kitchen and their three daughters worked the front of the shop. It was a sad day indeed, when Vitto told us it was time to sell the business because his daughters weren’t interested in taking over. Often a place is the owner and it certainly was the case with Vitto and Guisseppe’s…

That old saying is true about one door closing and another one opening! Just a chance drop by to see what’s what at Renzullo and we are back in our happy place!

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  1. Not Italian, but did you know that The International Sausage House on Gilmore is being shut down by, yes………….. drum roll, development. Like we need more high rises in the Brentwood area. Where will all those new inhabitants find good Polish locally made deli items at a very reasonable price, I ask? More importantly, where will I go to get my pizza makings for such a reasonable price?

    • No…I did not know they were shutting down…we have gone to JNZ on Commercial Drive for years…but they had to put the business on hold for a bit because the building needed to be brought up to code or something…the owners are Hungarian or Polish…not sure if they have re-opened or not….great stuff! Their stuff was reasonably priced and not only did they have amazing smoked stuff but fresh meat on Saturday’s! You could head up to Burnaby Heights and check out Cioffi…or Bosa just off Boundary…prefer Cioffi though!

  2. It’s always so sad when small local stores, restaurants, etc. close…at home and abroad! It’s up to us to keep patronizing and supporting as much as possible…
    Hate “big box” anything & always shop “local” to support local farmers, etc.
    We don’t even have a really good Italian deli here. I’m always so gratified to see 2nd, 3rd, etc. generation shops survive even in Italy!

    • I know Victoria…and that is why we were so happy to have found Renzullo! We do use Costco but only for Pellegrino, T.P, paper towels, laundry soap, dish soap…because of the pricing…otherwise small places and the weekly farmers market for the best and freshest most amazing and sometimes unusual produce! It’s where this cook wants to go!

  3. You’re lucky to have those places around you. Where we live the Italian delis are few and far between—and those that remain really have been “dumbed down” to appeal to local tastes.

    • Boy do I get it about the dumbed down…local tastes…does that mean Barilla dried pasta??? Oh probably! The stuff is mediocre at best! So, yes we are lucky! Thank goodness some Italian folks moved here to work a long time ago is all I can say and thanks to them we still have some decent stuff available. But then there are the rip-off places that cater to people who don’t know a thing about Italian cooking!

  4. I’ve been wanting to check out Cioffi but it seems so out of the way for me. I never go up that way, but could combine recycling or Home Depot with Sausage House quite easily. Might have to bite the bullet, though. Kind of like Galloway’s, I don’t like to make a special trip to go somewhere, but I am never in the area when they are open. Luckily, my friend lives just around the corner and she comes here every Sunday, so she does my shopping for me and lugs it over.

    • Nice to have hired staff! Sometimes the trip is worth it if you can combine it with other things you want to pick up…Galloways has gone to the bottom of my list…just too out of the way for us…when it was in Richmond it was a lot easier. We have gone but usually nearer to December.

      • Not only does she deliver but she refuses to be reimbursed for the purchases. I need to find a similar arrangement for my Costco shopping!

        • Well…aren’t you the lucky one! But you miss all the fun of seeing what’s out there to buy!

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