The popular Upper East Side Italian supermarket Agata & Valentina is expanding downtown. Rachel Wharton from Edible Manhattan Magazine filed the following report.
One of the Upper East Side's best kept secrets has finally expanded downtown.
After 20 years on 79th Street, the Italian supermarket Agata & Valentina has brought Sicilian style shopping to The Village on University Place. Yet the history of the shop actually goes back even further, says co-owner Valentina Puleo, thanks to the three Italian families who came together to open it.
"My father was an importer for his family business, Musco Foods, which has existed for over a hundred years," says Puleo. "And he would import my grandfather's coffee. So my parents got to know each other, and my mom came to the United States from Sicily in 1963. And she always complained she had nowhere to shop. Where she could find things she really wanted that she would get in Sicily or things like that. So together with my Dad they kind of dreamed up this concept, and my dad partnered with Louie Balducci and they opened up the first Agata & Valentina and that's how it was born."
Agata is Valentina's mother, and she's the inspiration for both the name and what goes on the shelves, much of which the owners source on trips to Italy.
"It's supposed to be kind of the concept of little Italian markets within one big space. So you have you know your deli department where can get freshly sliced prosciutto di Parma, and San Daniele and all the things we import from Italy that we find to be specifically unique. There are tons of different kinds of prosciutto, but we choose the one that we love best," says Puleo.
Yet like the original shop, more than half of what's on shelves is actually made from scratch. That includes brick oven pizzas, fresh mozzarella and even spaghetti and linguini. Staffers also slice meat or fish to order, make sausages and serve espresso.
Rest assured the coffee beans, of course, still come from Valentina's family back in Sicily.