There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal for the holidays. But what if your roots stem from another country and your tastes of home don’t fit American traditions? Where can you shop to find the goodies that take your thoughts back to your homeland?
Northwest Las Vegas resident Gerrie Demore said she had to find new places to shop when she moved to Las Vegas in 1982 to satisfy her family’s Italian taste buds.
“Growing up in Cleveland, we’re used to our back east places we would go, like Gallucci’s (an Italian market in Cleveland), but here, Rocco’s is good, on Charleston (Boulevard) and Buffalo (Drive),” she said, speaking of Rocco’s New York Italian Deli, 1181 S. Buffalo Drive, Suite 115. “They make homemade pasta, and a lot of time we’ll get their frozen pasta to cook. They have good cannoli there, too.”
What does Demore make at home?
“Sauce,” she said. “Then we go, ‘Do we feel like spaghetti? Do we feel like ravioli? Do we feel like rigatoni?’ It just depends.”
She said it’s better to cook things yourself so you can tweak them just the way you want.
“And there truly is a difference between Italian and Sicilian sauce,” Demore said. “Italians tend to make theirs chunky. Sicilian is smooth.”
For those seeking Italian items in the Summerlin area, also check out Roma Deli & Restaurant, 8524 W. Sahara Ave., and Rocco’s NY Pizzeria, 10860 W. Charleston Blvd., Suite 190, both of which have food markets.
Anna Gumenyuk’s family is Russian. She said they like to cook recipes handed down through the generations in their Summerlin home. Many of the ingredients can be found in regular grocery stores, but when something calls for an ethnic touch, they find ingredients past the fringes of Summerlin — at Jones Market & Deli, 3389 S. Jones Blvd., and Max Market, 8450 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 117.
They buy “cheese, sausages and quiche that we like, cakes and some bakery bread,” she said. “Then we find those pickled cucumbers and tomatoes, all those things.”
When it’s not holiday time, she said she goes once a week and sometimes once every two weeks.
“But we go around the holidays to buy some candy, chocolates,” she said, adding that they remind her of home.
Rachel’s Kitchen founder Debbie Sofer-Roxarzade’s ethnicity is Persian. She goes to Zaytoon, 3655 S. Durango Drive.
“The owners are great, a really, really nice, hardworking couple,” she said. “It’s a great market and close to home.”
She said if the ingredients were available in a Smith’s or an Albertsons, she’d shop there, as it would be a one-stop shopping trip.
How far would she travel to find that just-right ingredient?
“If it wasn’t available anywhere else, 30 minutes,” she said.
Is your family from Hawaii? One might think Slade’s Polynesian Crafts, 7522 Westcliff Drive, would carry food items from the islands. It doesn’t. “Auntie Tina” Slade, the owner, said she goes to the CVS at 1950 Village Center Circle, as it has a section with Hawaiian foods.
“I’m thinking of carrying it (Hawaiian foods) because we’re the only Hawaiian store now,” she said. “So a lot of people come in (looking for Hawaiian foods).”
She said some Walgreens also carry Hawaiian food items.
Siena Italian Authentic Trattoria and Deli, 9500 W. Sahara Ave., opened four years ago, with the grocery component following a year later.
The meat case in the 2,000-square-foot grocery section offers fare such as capicola, Genoa salami, Mortadella, soppressata and prosciutto. The deli case has stuffed artichokes, eggplant Parmesan, stuffed shells, gnocchi and manicotti, with the bakery section full of fresh baked breads and dessert items.
More than 90 percent of its canned goods come from Italy, as well as other far-off places.
Browsing the shelves, one learns there is such a thing as black squid pasta. Then there’s Neapolitan paccheri, fusilli con buco and mafalde pastas, all of which are hard to find, noted Siena co-owner and chef Giancarlo Bomparola. Not everything it sells is pasta. Farro is a spelt grain, consumed by vegetarians.
“Regola, it’s from Sardinia, very close to a couscous, which is very hard to find,” said Bomparola, pointing out things on the shelves. “Remember, in Europe, it’s like we (Italy) are the strategic point, we’re dominated by the water on the three sides, and there was a lot of exchange (of food). Every region has its own goods.”
Bomparola said about 60 percent of Siena’s grocery shoppers are Americans who were well-educated, well-traveled and have been exposed to various cuisines. Other shoppers have seen cooking shows on TV and come in looking for specific ingredients. Local chefs also will call trying to locate a certain product.
Another Italian eatery with a market component — Parma by Chef Marc — is just off Summerlin Parkway’s Buffalo Drive exit.
Marc Sgrizzi is the man behind Parma, 7591 W. Washington Ave., Suite 110, which opened in 2008. The market section covers roughly 12 feet of wall space and includes pasta, fried onions, arborio rice, olive oils and a balsamic infusion.
Sgrizzi said market shelf sales account for about 25 percent of his business. When he first opened, he said it was only about 10 percent before it gained traction. Come the holidays, the market section doubles in business. He said patrons who buy market items will pair them with something from the deli or menu.
“We make our own pastas, so that’s a big thing,” he said. “They take it home and cook that, and they add their ingredients to it.”
In Europe, it’s not uncommon for residents to go to their corner market every day. Sgrizzi said big-box stores are not as common there as they are in America.
“There’s more markets and grocery stores here, and people don’t look for a single aisle,” he said. “Where I used to go shopping in Italy, they’re all small markets. They all have their own neighborhoods. They go one place for pasta, one place for polentas or one place for little things like that. Stores like mine would be making pesto sauces and things like that in the window. Here, there’s no market for that kind of stuff. They go to the big grocery stores, and now big grocery stores have just about everything, even ethnic stuff nowadays. … So these little markets have things you might specialize in, and then you might have a little percentage of people who come in.”
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.