To the side of a dead-end street, off the one-way section of Olympic as it nears the beach, sits an industrial quadrant of concrete and delivery trucks and, though you may easily miss it if you're not among the initiated, one of the best Italian import shops in town. Guidi Marcello, Ltd. is more an overflowing stockroom than a store, a tiny jammed shop fronting a vast warehouse.

“This is a showroom for chefs,” is how Marco Guidi describes his store, gesturing to the shelves stocked with Spinosi pastas and Risogreppi rice and Farchioni olive oils, the counter laden with samples of Red Cow Parmigiano-Reggiano and bread smeared with Gioia mascarpone and items marked down in honor of the 50 years Guidi has been in business.

Guidi Marcello, Ltd. was founded by Marco Guidi's father, whose name was Marcello Guidi (an immigrant family's familiar story of name-changing, here inversion rather than shortening or changing), who left his native Tuscany for Ethiopia in 1945 to start a postwar business. Marco Guidi took over the company from this father and relocated to Santa Monica in 1981. The business is still a family operation: Guidi's daughter Gaia bakes the cookies, wrapped in pretty cellophane and for sale near the register, with ingredients from the shop; her oatmeal-cherry cookies, for example, are made with the Amarenada Toschi cherries in syrup from her father's shelves.

Guidi has a lot more than cherries, between what's on those shelves and what's housed in the back. “Like 2000 products,” says Guidi, “I don't even know how many.” 300 whole wheels of Red Cow parmesan for starters–each one weighs 90 lbs.–and 3000 cases of Farchioni olive oil (“thirty years I do business with this guy”), some of which have even been bottled under Guidi's own label, Colli Guidi. It's a tiny labyrinth of a shop, and you may well get lost–if not actually, then metaphorically, thinking yourself far away from the concrete horizontal world where you parked your car. Which, hopefully, has a lot of room for all the stuff you'll be taking home.

Guidi Marcello: 1649 10th St., Santa Monica; (310) 452-6277. Open 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

LA Weekly