Mazzaro’s Italian Market on 22nd Avenue North in St. Petersburg, Florida is genuine trip into an Old World European market. The only market like this that Ample Bites has experienced in the U.S. is Freddy’s Pizzeria in Cicero, Illinois (see earlier post). Mazzaro’s is Freddy’s “on steroids”.
Mazzaro’s offerings include produce, a full butcher counter, fresh and frozen seafood, coffee roasting, a coffee bar, beers and wines, cheeses, a bakery, a deli, and a counter with prepared foods and fresh-made pasta. On top of all of the aforementioned delicacies is a vast selection of canned goods and grocery items, most of which are Italian favorites and brands.
Ample Bites made a first (and definitely not a last) visit at the tail end of the lunch hour and the place was packed with patrons. The prepared food counter and deli were 15 to 20 people deep. Many were ordering a sandwich or pasta for lunch. Some where picking up prepared items for dinner tonight. The traditional Italian favorites like Eggplant Parmesan, the Meatball Sandwich with Sauce and Provolone, and the Panini all looked delicious but the seared Sesame Tuna Wasabi, which is served on grilled bread with pickled ginger and alfalfa sprouts, caught my eye.
The coffee bar was full of folks enjoying an espresso or cappuccino and a pastry. Many appeared to be people watching or observing the adjacent bakery and fresh pasta preparation areas.
The sweet bakery items are all authentic and beautifully prepared. The fresh pasta shapes seemed endless and the fresh pasta dishes looked amazing. The Cheese Manicotti with Lobster looked particularly intriguing to Ample Bites.
The wine cellar and cheese area was a very active area. The cheeses ranged from prepackaged brands to fresh mozzarella, provolone and many varieties of aged gorgonzola. The wine selection is not huge but Mazzaro’s sells a quality spectrum from a domestic Napa Valley offering to Tuscan Chianti Classico and Brunello.
Outside the store is a small covered seating area where patrons can dine-in and enjoy prepared items.
A thirty-minute spin through Mazzaro’s barely scratched the surface of the Italian market experience. Thankfully I had just finished lunch or my basket would have been filled with much, much more than the Gorgonzola Cheese Spread, a prepared pizza (to be frozen and baked later), a can of clam stock, a loaf of fresh-baked bread, two dark chocolate candy bars, a block of Fontina cheese, a jar of San Marco pizza sauce, some Farina 00 flour, and a bottle of 2011 Banfi DOCG Chianti Superiore.
Thankfully these provisions won’t last very long and a return visit will be necessary soon.