When Frank and Gino Corti moved to Sacramento in the 1940s, the brothers—children of Italian immigrants—soon found there was a shortage of stores stocking European food. So in 1947 the duo opened Corti Brothers, a small deli that was one of the only importers of foreign products in Northern California at the time. Seventy years later Frank’s son, Darrell—“the man who knows more about food and wine than anyone else in the world,” says food writer Colman Andrews in Ruth Reichl’s memoir, Comfort Me with Apples (Random House, 2001)—owns the shop and travels the world to expand his knowledge. “Being around Darrell is quite an honor,” says Corti Brothers operations manager Shaun Freeman.
Freeman and his family, like many of the store’s patrons, have been shopping there for generations. “It’s a family tradition,” he says. With over 140 different cheeses available on any given day and a staff who takes dairy education seriously (cheese experts are often brought in to instruct the team), Corti Brothers is a true NorCal curds destination.
culture: What’s your go-to party cheese?
Shaun Freeman: Aged gouda, a nice double- or triple-cream brie, or Manchego with quince paste. Manchego is a big crowd pleaser, [especially] with the sweetness of the quince paste—[it becomes] very approachable.
culture: Do you have a favorite cheesy memory?
SF: Sitting in a park in Paris with my wife and a bottle of rosé right after we got married. We went to a little fromagerie, bought a wide variety of cheeses and the bottle of wine, and put out a blanket in the park. I could live off cheese, bread, and wine.
culture: Do you have any cheese pet peeves?
SF: When people don’t understand that cheese is a living product that’s going to [grow] mold to a certain extent. As it ages, it [sprouts] mold. It doesn’t make it bad.
Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Sun. 10 a.m–6 p.m.
Feature Photo Credit: Rick Mindermann