By Holly Crocco
Two NYC natives are bringing at taste of Little Italy to Mahopac.
Cousins JoJo Matra and Lorraine Calderazzo put their plans for their Italian specialty store, Bella Cucina, into motion several months ago.
The two are third-generation born-and-raised natives of Little Italy, New York City, where Matra still lives. The two grew up next door to each other and would often go with their mothers to various specialty stores to get meats, cheeses, breads and other goods.
After Calderazzo moved to Mahopac a few years ago, the two decided it was the right time and place to bring those memories back to life.
“We decided that we were going to bring up one of those old-school stores that our mothers used to shop at, to Mahopac,” said Matra. “We spent the whole summer eating our way through the best of the best Italian eateries in New York City.”
She said they sampled various products from Mulberry Street in lower Manhattan, to Brooklyn, and decided where they wanted to source their offerings from.
This includes meats, cheeses and dry pasta imported from Italy, as well as baked goods from local artisan bakers. Bella Cucina also sells various flavor-infused olive oils and vinegars, as well olives, peppers as other items.
“Ninety-nine percent of our products are imported from Italy,” said Matra. “You can’t walk in and get a ham and cheese sandwich. We aren’t a deli.”
Instead, customers can get a prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich, or mortadella with provolone, or imported hot or sweet sopresata or capicola.
While Calderazzo runs the shop, Matra delivers the goods from the city.
“She’s like a Martha Stewart,” Matra said of her cousin. “She’s into presentation, while I’m more into the taste of the food.”
She said the business is a labor of love dedicated to their mothers, who not only fed their families, but their friends, as well.
“There was always a dish for one more,” recalled Matra. “That’s our motto: There’s always room for one more.”
Bella Cucina is located at 730 Route 6, across from the Mahopac Fire Department. For more information, follow the business on Facebook.