November 2008


Sardinian Honey produced by Liccu Manisu, Piazza will stock the Corbezzolo and Asphodel varieties (Asphodel, or King’s Spear, is a flower-bearing plant similar to the lily)


On Thursday I went to the Mela Grande to pick up two orders for the store, one order was placed with Gustiamo.  Gustiamo imports very high quality foods from Italy to their warehouse in the Bronx where they operate both as wholesalers and online retailers.  Because the store isn’t open yet (Dec. 5th, everyone!!) I had the time to make the trip myself and I am so glad that I did!  

The people behind the scenes at Gustiamo are so knowledgeable and kind, I can’t understand why buyers don’t visit their distributors on a regular basis.  I had so much fun!  I showed Beatrice our website and she offered movie advice.  I added items to my order that I hadn’t thought I would like because Antonio gave me SAMPLES and they were DELICIOUS.  Sold!  I hope you will like them as much as I did!


Grated Tuna Bottarga from the esteemed Tre Torri seafood company, used for finishing pastas, pizzas or just on buttered toast to impart a distinct salinity.


From the famous cafe hidden behind the Pantheon in Rome, near the church of the same name, is the Sant’Eustachio Coffee, available at Piazza as whole beans or chocolate-covered.  Real Simple recently recommended this coffee as a gift suitable for anyone.



On Friday our two display deli cases arrived in Easton, they came in their own truck all the way from Tennessee.  They were custom built as one 12′ unit by the fantastic Southern Store Fixtures Company.  I specifically chose Southern for several reasons; they’re American, they make beautiful cases, and they’re easy to service.  Up in New York I worked with Arneg cases and there was always a problem– they were leaking water, they froze, and their supports inside broke.  Arneg is more sexy but Southern is better in my eyes (*Three year update:  not a problem with them ever!).

Getting the beauty off the delivery truck and into the store was a scary process to watch but the case is safe and sound now.  In the first picture, the case is being moved off the delivery truck on the right, onto a rollback tow truck.  This was done on a slope so the case moved off the delivery truck just fine, but was a little stubborn about stopping once it made it to the tow truck bed…

p1010378In this picture, the roll back tow truck is lowering its bed down in front of the store.  The two brick column supports were about one inch wider than the ramp!  Once the flat bed was lowered to the ground the case was rolled down.  The angle of the ramp was relatively steep compared to the length of the case so the back end of the case had to be lifted by hand to clear the ramp.  That was when we discovered that the dollys were not bolted to the case.  One guy was stuck holding up the case with his back while they others rolled the case forward a bit and repositioned the dolly!  That was frightening for everyone.  Now the case is safe and sound.  Stay tuned for the unveiling! p1010379


The grease trap problem is at bay but another saga is unfolding: the never-ending application for a liquor license.  The application contains many requirements and forms from many separate official offices.  It is the mother of all permits.  


– a vaild Maryland Driver’s License

– a complete set of fingerprint cards for each applicant (business owner), one for the state of Maryland and one for the FBI, a check for $10 to process each applicant’s 2 fingerprint records

– three copies plus original of completed application and attachments #1 and #2

attachment #1- a form to be completed by the property owner acknowledging the business owners intent to sell alcoholic beverages, must be notarized

attachment #2- signatures from at least 10 people approving our intention to sell alcoholic beverages, each person must own property in and vote in the same District and Precinct as the location of the store  

– certificate for Alcohol Awareness Training

– Health Department Permit

– proof of Compliance from the State Fire Marshall

– certificate from County or Municipalities Office of Planning and Zoning

– complete list of all property owners as defined in 11-9 of the Talbot County Code (properties w/in 1000 ft of the business)

– copy of current Trader/Business License, issued by the state



This means that an applicant must be in contact with:

– state police department (fingerprinting)

– property owner and a notary (attachment 1)

– ten immediate locals (attachment 2)

– the board of elections (to verify that they are in fact, registered to vote in the district and precinct they say they are)

– the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) to obtain Techniques of Alcohol Management (TAM) certification

– the Health Department (permit)

– State Fire Marshall (compliance permit)

– Town Office of Planning and Zoning (a certificate confirming that you are not within 1000 feet of a church, a school or a park; no small feat in a town like Easton)

– State Comptroller for a Business License

– Talbot County Office for a Trader’s License 


Did I mention the $156.00 fee for advertising you application in the newspaper, the $200.00 application fee and the $2000.00 annual fee?

Biggest current problem: the number one bullet on the checklist is something that I do not have!  I do not have a valid Maryland Driver’s License!  I just moved to Maryland two months ago, I still have my Virginia driver’s license.  To quote Tina Fey, BLURG!!

Last week I went to New York to pick up our first order of food for the store!  I received some great things and here are some pictures to whet your appetite:

chickpea flour

(and here is a classic Ligurian snack made with farina di ceci)


a very green, grassy Tuscan olive oil from a famous vineyard


porcini oil


whole farro, an ancient grain and staple for the Roman legions


stracci toscani pasta (tuscan rags)




When I tell people here in Maryland that I’m opening an Italian store they always ask me if I’ve been to Trinacria in Baltimore.  Until a few weeks ago, I had to admit that I hadn’t been there, a reply which garnered looks of suspicion.  I have two excuses:

#1 Trinacria is not in the Little Italy section of Baltimore which I have been to several times and

#2 When I tried to go in August they were already closed (they close at 4:00 pm).

On October 3rd, I made it over there:


The store was super old-school, they were selling many things directly out of the cases.  The prices are unbeatable.  The cheapest stuff anywhere– cans of tomatoes, boxes of pasta, olives, cookies, oil.  So cheap.  Their private label pasta sauces and olive oil seem like the best deal of all, so I asked the guy if they sell wholesale.  No, he said, they stopped doing wholesale about two years ago because it was a headache.  Darn it!  I bought a bottle of wine, a bottle of soda, some tomatoes, a sandwich, and some pasta.  It was dead quiet at 3:00 pm that Friday but I bet on Saturdays they have lines out the door!  p10102083