Originally from Pittsburgh, husband-and-wife team Sam and Pat Cuccaro opened a coffee roasting operation in St. Petersburg in 1982. Just over a decade later, with the help of son Kurt, they moved to Mazzaro’s Italian Market’s current location and added a brick oven to bake bread. Eventually, the family expanded to offer specialty groceries (including cheese, of course), prepared foods, and made-to-order sandwiches, becoming the multifaceted market it is today.
Several times a year, Mazzaro’s holds a wine tasting complete with passed appetizers—a favorite amongst regular customers and the community. “We’re a strong, gourmet market,” says Ben DeNavarra, Mazzaro’s general manager of 10 years. “Our coffee is roasted in-house several times a week, pastas are made fresh in-house, and the meat department makes its own sausage. We have 2,000 to 3,000 wines and 300 to 400 cheeses. We make our own fresh mozzarella.” And, as you might guess, a good portion of what isn’t housemade comes from across the pond in Italy.
culture: Since Mazzaro’s focuses on Italian products, what cheese do you believe is the best representation of Italy?
Ben Denavarra: The first two cheeses that pop into my head are Parmigiano Reggiano and aged provolone.
culture: How do you find new and different cheeses for your store?
BD: We try to stay up-to-date with the food shows. Our sales reps are good about bringing us different samples.
culture: What is your go-to recipe involving cheese?
BD: I have a Savoyard potato recipe I love, using blue cheese and Gruyère. You could eat it as a side dish or on its own. It pairs really well with a good steak.
culture: If you could only eat three foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
BD: Cheese, pork, and beer.
2909 22nd Ave. N.
St. Petersburg, FL
Mon–Fri: 9 a.m–6 p.m
Sat: 9 a.m–2:30 p.m