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On the search for a REAL Italian grocery in LA

I love California and I love living here. However, I have always been challenged to find authentic Italian foodstuffs. When I lived in Boston, every Monday was a trip to the North End, where I bought all of my groceries for the week.


Sadly in LA, I had not been able to find the quality and the consistency, so I had resorted to mail order, which made ordering certain meats and perishable items very difficult.


However, while on the search for some guanciale to make a Pasta ala’ Amatriciana, I stumbled onto a gem in Santa Monica. Guidi Marcello.




What a find, and for those of you who already know about it, well you will know why I am so excited. I had heard good reviews, but was so used to being let down, I didn't get up my hopes, but wow, what a great selection of wines, meats, cheeses, pastas, tomatoes, and every ingredient you can imagine and all of the highest quality. I can only say, give it a visit and if you need an excuse, here is my recipe for Pasta ala’ Amatriciana.

1 large finely chopped onion
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 lb. Guanciale (Unsmoked Italian bacon made from pig's jowls), either cut into ¼ inch cubes or ¼ inch strips
2- 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes, or whole tomatoes that are lightly chopped in the processor. San Marzano’s are the best.
3 tsp. Red Pepper flakes or a few whole red peppers - Optional
2 Tbsp. Butter
Few grindings of fresh nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated Romano and/or Parmesan Cheese

Melt the butter over medium heat, and then add the pancetta. After the pancetta starts to release it’s aroma and renders down, add the onion, garlic, and cook until translucent. 

Now add the nutmeg, red pepper flakes and the salt and pepper. You want to just let the mixture sauté until it smells fantastic, usually about 5 to 10 minutes over medium heat.

Then add the tomatoes, bring it back to a boil, and then reduce the heat down and let it simmer. After 1 to 2 hours, you will have an amazing rich sauce, which is perfect with any tube pasta. Florence always served it with penne, so I do the same.

Before you add the sauce, always sprinkle your grated cheese over the pasta, toss and then add the sauce and toss again, and then add more Parmesan cheese. Tossing is the key to a well-made pasta dish. 

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