These 5 Italian Merchants Offer a Taste of the Old World

| Canadian, Food & Drink, History

Every nationality has their own incredible foods to share with the world.  Be it souvlaki from the Greeks, pierogis from the Polish or schnitzel from the Germans, every culture has a little tasty something to add to this country’s diverse culinary scene.

But then there’s the Italians.

Sure, my last name may prove that I’m a little biased, but come on! The people that give you mozzarella and prosciutto and cannoli and anything covered in red sauce is the king of kings in my book.  Walk into any Italian restaurant or grocer in Buffalo and the beautiful aromas trigger a happy dance for your taste buds.

Back in the 1950s, Buffalo’s Italian immigrant population was flourishing. Those men and women came to the city and started up businesses that celebrated their foods, some of which are still in business today!

Here’s a handful of our Italian shops and grocers – both old and new:

Guercio’s, 250 Grant Street, Buffalo
When the Guercio family first opened this location in 1961, they were situated in a largely Italian neighborhood on the west side of Buffalo making it THE place to stock up on fresh produce and Italian essentials like olive oil, cheese, deli meat and more.  Not much has changed in 58 years, it’s still the go-to place for many long-time residents and intrigued next-gen newcomers who are looking for that classic Buffalo vibe, to buy local and dive face-first into a killer capicola, roasted red pepper and provolone sandwich for $4.50 at the deli.

Gondola, 1985 Niagara Street, Buffalo
If you’ve been out and about in Buffalo long enough, you’re bound to run into Gondola products on the shelves and in the freezers of so many businesses and restaurants.  They’ve been cranking out the fresh made pasta for the last 60 years and you’ll know the reason they’ve been around so long as soon as you take a bite (their cheese tortellini is life-changing.) Stop by their Black Rock location, meet the third generation Calla family and stock up on your favorite carbs.

Pellicano’s Marketplace, 3176 Niagara Falls Boulevard, North Tonawanda
Whether you’re looking for some Italian deli favorites to round out your charcuterie tray or fresh ingredients to put the finishing touches on your grandmother’s sauce, Pellicano’s prides itself on having it all…and then some. The Pellicano family put their name on the store because they truly want you to feel like family when you walk in the door. If you’re home for the holidays or visiting family and friends, pick up one of their Italian gift baskets to wow YOUR family with.

Historic photo of Mineo & Sapio

Mineo & Sapio Italian Sausage, 410 Connecticut Street, Buffalo
Just as important as the tomatoes, herbs and spices, the meats are what makes the sauce perfect. Enter Mineo & Sapio. Since 1920, these West Side sausage and meatball purveyors have adhered to the same delicious recipes used by John Mineo nearly 100 years ago. Odds are good that you’ve had Mineo & Sapio products while eating at any of Buffalo’s fine Italian restaurants, but stop into their retail store on Connecticut Street to select the very best for your own spaghetti and meatball dishes.

Luigi’s Bakery, 83 Forest Avenue, Buffalo
The art of bread making, truly is an art. This old-school Italian baker specializes in loaves of all varieties and delivers them all over town but some locals prefer to go straight to the source. Their location at 83 Forest Avenue is quite large but the retail section is modest.  Two large display cases in front and shelves of fresh bread in the back. The cases are filled with that morning’s baked goods ranging from pastry hearts (the size of a football I might add) to eclairs to cannoli, if you get there in time!  You won’t find pastas or olive oils here so what you may want to do is visit the previous 4 places and end your ‘Italian Goodies Trail’ at Luigi’s.

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