Snacks N'at: Bloomfield's Groceria Italiana does it the old-fashioned way
Rose Marie Rossi is old school.
Just look at her hands.
This 83-year-old owner of Groceria Italiana in Bloomfield, nestled in a back street in Pittsburgh's “Little Italy,” uses those appendages to mix meatballs, knead dough and fill cannoli — all without a machine.
“Everything we do here is done by hand,” says Rossi, with her Italian accent as strong as her hands. “I could buy machines, but I don't want any machines. This store isn't about being cookie-cutter, where every piece of pasta or meatball looks exactly the same. It's not a mini-market. I want people to know what an old-fashioned market is like.”
There aren't many stores left like this one, says Rossi's son, Jimmy Luvara, who with wife Cindy, assists Rossi with day-to-day operations.
“It's the fresh ingredients and my mother's passion to make sure everything is always homemade,” Luvara says.
Nothing sits more than two days in this market, which Rossi has owned for the past 15 years. It's been in Bloomfield since 1958.
On a recent Tuesday, Rick Silverman of Scott stopped by for lunch from the food bar that changes its selections daily. He's been shopping here for years, having grown up in Pittsburgh.
“The food is delicious and fresh, and the prices are reasonable, and I really don't want more people to know about this secret store in Bloomfield,” he says. “It's a great place.”
A meatball sandwich is $5.50 (they make 100 pounds of meatballs a week all rolled by hand and baked); a jar of homemade sauce is $6.49 and a dozen ravioli starts at $7.25. You also can buy homemade breads and fried dough.
“I taste everything to make sure it is just right,” Rossi says. “I want people to see what is different between us and chain stores. You are not a number here. You are a person.”
Making one of the 12 ravioli choices — they are all baked — in the back of the store was Carol Studeny.
“There is no comparison to pasta in a box,” says Studeny, who creates 1,000 a day; more during the holidays. “Come in here around Christmas time, and you will see, it's crazy. I tell people to come early, but every year on Christmas Eve the place is packed.”
It's the fact that people don't make homemade pasta as they used to, Studeny says.
That's because there aren't many like Rossi, her son says. She will leave the store and drop off bread and pasta to friends, acquaintances and even people she doesn't know on her way home, including a crossing guard on Crane Avenue in the South Hills. The two talked one day when Rossi was stopped at a red light.
“I love feeding people and telling people what to eat,” she says. “And people want to know what to eat. Italian food is good because of the ingredients, all natural and fresh and made by hand. I want people to feel at home when they walk through that door. They are my guests, and I appreciate them shopping here because they could shop anywhere. And everyone who works here is part of this family and treats the customers like family.”
They keep coming back because of the quality of the product, Luvara says.
“We make everything right here,” he says. “And once this place is gone, there most likely won't be another one like it. We do it the old-fashioned way. The biggest compliment we can get is, ‘My grandmother did it this way.' ”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Cole scratched from rehab start at Indianapolis
- City of Asylum app shines light on North Side
- Police: Body found beneath Tarentum Bridge is jumper
- Locke’s difficulties continue thanks to old friends
- Churches putting faith in social media
- Steelers notebook: Team extends Suisham’s contract through 2018
- Steelers rookie says Sam, his former roommate, has changed
- Homework: Easy landscaping projects for the DIYer in you
- Corbett deserves support
- The Gulftainer deal: Ports of peril?
- Police target 17 in Mon Valley drug investigation