EAST PROVIDENCE - When people follow their bliss,
good things usually result. Bliss for Osvaldo Pirro
& iacute;, owner of the Italian Corner Market, comes
in the form of delicious and truly authentic Italian
food. What joy for the rest of us!
His retail store is filled with Italian favorites
that he either makes on-site from scratch or imports
from Italy. His homemade ravioli, homemade gnocchi,
authentically prepared lasagna and freshly baked
focaccia pugliese for instance, are just a few of the
tempting treats to be found at his "corner" market
located just off the beaten track in East Providence.
Born in Milan, Italy, Osvaldo worked in one of
Milan's best gourmet food shops every day after school
from age 12 to 18. "That is where I built my love, my
knowledge of food," explained Osvaldo.
He went on to work in restaurants, hotels and
eventually started his first retail shop in California.
From there Osvaldo moved back to Italy, exiting the food
business and entering the world of computers. During
that time, he and his wife Angela fell in love with
Rhode Island while on vacation and eventually moved
"I ran the computer company for 13 years in Rhode
Island but it was too much stress. I went back to where
my heart was, my love for food," said Osvaldo.
In November 2004, after selling his computer
business, Osvaldo opened the Italian Corner Market. Last
year he brought in his friend, Mario Bellotti, who also
grew up in Milan, to help him with the market. Mario has
worked at such popular Rhode Island restaurants as
Raphael Bar Risto, the Post Office Café and Ristorante
Pizzico and shares Osvaldo's passion for food. Together
they are making sure that the fare offered at the
Italian Corner Market is truly Italian.
"We make the authentic Italian lasagna with no
ricotta cheese. We are making things the real way: the
caserecchio and focaccina bread, the manicotti di magro,
the mantovani gnocchi, the ravioli," said Osvaldo.
Together, the two chefs are also teaching cooking
classes as a way to impart their love of Italian cooking
to others. The classes are part history lesson, part
cooking demonstration. The first four-week session,
currently going on at the store on Thursday evenings,
centers around pasta. The categories include quick
sauces, making fresh pasta and pastas with vegetable
sauces. One class will be devoted to the many varieties
of gnocchi and the final class will cover lasagna,
tortellini and linguine with clams.
"With every recipe we make, we also teach the history
of the recipe, where it comes from, why and why does it
have particular ingredients. It is nice when you eat
something, to know its history," explained Osvaldo.
Mario's experience as a sommelier is an added benefit as
he can recommend wines for the various dishes.
At each session, students sit at tables set with
silverware and tablecloths and sample the food prepared
by Mario and Osvaldo. The demonstration stove is set up
under a TV camera, so students can look up to a
television screen and see exactly what is happening on
Paul Staite is the manager of Tennis Rhode Island,
just up the street from the Italian Corner Market, and
he's taking the four-week cooking course with his
girlfriend. "We have enjoyed it tremendously," he said.
"We found the history of the different regions to be
very interesting and the food was really delicious."
One of Mr. Staite's favorite's was a dish served at
his first class: a pastry cup filled with gorgonzola
cheese and shaved chocolate.
Plans to expand
The market is expanding into the space next door
within the next several months. In the meantime, shelves
are conveniently placed on wheels so they can be moved
for the cooking classes. Looking around the market, you
can find over 20 different types of olive oil, a wide
variety of balsamic vinegars aged from five years and up
and over 10 different types of espresso.
There is every shape of imported dried pasta
imaginable, even gluten-free or rice pastas for people
with restricted diets. There is a wide variety of fresh
ravioli, like crab meat or spicy Calabrese made with hot
sausage, and at least six kinds of homemade gnocchi. The
sausage, like the breads and pastas, is made on site by
The Italian Corner market does a brisk lunchtime
business with homemade sandwiches filled with imported
Parma proscuitto and the like, as well as homemade
soups. Busy parents might appreciate the "meals ready to
eat" more than anything else. It's not Army fare, but
homemade pastas like lasagna and manicotti that are
packaged for easy re-heating at home.
Osvaldo will soon be heading back to Italy where he
travels about four times a year. During his visits he
shops for the market and visits the food shows in order
to stay informed in his trade. There is no question that
he is passionate about food, as are those who work
around him in the market. The atmosphere is friendly and
there are plenty of choices for the food lover in
everyone, especially those with an enthusiasm for all
Italian Corner Market
10 Boyd Ave., East Providence (just off Rte. 6)
431-1737 or www.italiancorner-ri.com
Open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and
weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
By Genie McPherson Trevor