Dear Mr. Gold:
Is there an Italian imports shop in Los Angeles comparable to Buonitalia, the big Italian outlet at the Chelsea Market in New York? By this I mean a store that goes beyond the generic pastas and oils you can find at the well-known Italian delis here, with a wide range of Italian cheeses, condiments and meats, as well as the burrata and Parma prosciutto that you should be able to find anywhere. With all the Italian restaurants here, there must be somewhere to go.
I had completely forgotten about the shop until I happened upon it in the course of an illegal U-turn a couple of weeks ago, but Guidi Marcello, the Italian products wholesaler hidden in an industrial neighborhood of Santa Monica, is a pretty astonishing repository of all things Italian, from guanciale imported from northern Tuscany to high-quality frozen porcini, artisanal spinach ravioli to small-producer Tuscan pecorino, risottos of every possible gradation and Modenese balsamic vinegars ranging from the cheap stuff to ancient liquids that drop by drop may be as expensive as gold. There is a magical product from Umbria that produces a very respectable squid ink risotto when you mix it with precisely 21 ounces of salted water and heat it for precisely 19 minutes. Pastas include the celebrated Spinosi 2000, a square-cut, egg-enriched angel-hair from the Marches that has been called the Ferrari of dried pasta. The wine selection is basic but very well priced, and in season, Guidi Marcello is probably the best place in Los Angeles to find fresh Italian truffles. I managed to spend about $250 on groceries in less than 10 minutes, and I am already daydreaming about what I might get the next time I drop by the store. 1649 10th St. Santa Monica, (310) 452-6277.
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