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Ferrari Foods to bring Old World origins to Los Altos and San Jose

By Christina Waters

THE MEDITERRANEAN MENU continues to expand, thanks to last week's opening of A.G. Ferrari Foods in Los Altos. And if the Italian market's CEO Paul Ferrari (nephew of founder Annibale Ferrari) has his way, next year the 11-store empire will expand with a new store in the town where it all started--San Jose. The year was 1919 when patriarch Annibale Ferrari opened the Parisian Delicatessen in San Jose, moving to the East Bay a few years later. Bringing the expertise of the family food business in their native Emilia-Romagna--the Italian region that gave us parmesan and prosciutto--more Ferraris (family members not luxury automobiles) joined the business and opened more stores over the years. The brand new store at 295 Main Street in Los Altos continues to cultivate those Old World origins. How is A.G. Ferrari Foods different from, say, Oakville Grocery or Draeger's or Dean & DeLucca?" I asked Ferrari's marketing director Larry Challacomb. "We are strictly Italian," Challacomb responded. "That's our thing. From the music in the store to the tastings we offer"--Ferrari's devotes its 2,200 square feet to the glorious gastronomy of Italy. "We do unique, hard-to-find handmade items, so we plan to grow slowly and steadily--eventually working our way down the peninsula," says Challacomb, who says Italian foodies can expect new stores in Palo Alto and San Jose sometime next year. "Our roots are in the great Italian deli tradition." And that means that "you can come in and get a great sandwich, or choose from a selection of 25 different imported olives." He also promises that "within reason," customers can come in and sample anything that interests them.

Ferrari aims for wide appeal and not simply the upscale patron. "Our average sale is $11," Challacomb points out." Cheeses, pastas, vinegars, oils--specialty items brought from every corner of Italy, especially the lesser-known areas, fill Ferrari's shelves. Of the wine selection, 90 percent are Italian varietals and labels--"We focus on a wide variety of regions, Sicily and the south, as well as Tuscany," Challacomb said. The popular house-wine line, incidentally, is named for the founder, "Annibale."

A small, onsite dining area in the store invites customers to enjoy that Italian sausage and pepperoncini sandwich right on the spot. For now, the new A.G. Ferrari Foods in Los Altos is open 11am-6pm--but in a few months the hours should expand to 10am-8pm, in line with the other stores. Looking for dried porcinis, buffalo mozzarella or an amusing little Sangiovese? Head for Ferrari's and enjoy a taste of the old country. Click on the website: www.agferrari.com to learn more, or call 877.87TASTE.

Storrs Again!

Kudos to Pam and Steve Storrs, winemakers at the small Santa Cruz-based Storrs Winery, whose 1997 BXR took a prestigious Sweepstakes award at the recent San Francisco International Wine Competition recently--to add to a Gold Medal at the Orange County Fair for Storrs' 1997 Rusty Ridge Zinfandel. BXR is admittedly not your usual varietal name. In fact you probably haven't a clue as to what's in that award-winning bottle that had the SF judges going gaga. Wonder no more. The Storrs 1997 BXR is one of those intriguing blends comprised of all five of the classic Bordeaux varietals. That means it contains Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc (the other Cab), Malbec and Petit Verdot (PV is a grape rarely grown in California). Wines combining these red grapes are called "meritage." Let's review. We all know that there are two big grapes in French red wines--Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot goes into the wines made in Burgundy. Cab goes into the wines made near the Atlantic coast in Bordeaux. Ergo, this Storrs meritage is a Bordeaux-style wine. Isn't this fun? The Storrs wine tied for the Sweepstakes award with a 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia, also a meritage blend. By now you've noticed that 1997 was a killer year for red wines, and that meritage blends win awards. You might like to try them. So hit your favorite wine store and find Storrs BXR. It's a bit pricey for everyday dining--around $34--but you're worth it.

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From the July 27-August 2, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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