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Italian specialty stores: 6 Long Island shops to visit

A.S Pork Store in Massapequa.

A.S Pork Store in Massapequa. Credit: Newsday / Rebecca Cooney

When Italians settled in America, their communities would have a pork store (salumeria) that sold cured pork products; cheeses and dairy products were sold at the latticini. These days, Italian specialty stores generally sell both salumi and cheese -- and imported groceries and prepared foods and much more. But they're still often referred to as "pork stores." Here are a few of our favorites.

RAZZANO'S, 286 Glen St., Glen Cove, 516-676-3745,

It seems crazy that Razzano's store isn't called Condello's. Five years after Agostino Razzano opened it in 1963, Vincent Condello, newly arrived from Calabria, bought it with two now-former partners. Over the next five decades, the store evolved into an Italian palace of wonders, where something delicious lurks around every corner, behind every door. The shelves of the packed-to-the-rafters shop are crammed with tomatoes, oils and vinegars, coffee, candy, flour, nuts and more than 25 brands of pasta. From the kitchen issues a torrent of homemade Italian specialties -- entrees, vegetables, salads, heros. The deli counter boasts imported prosciutto, mortadella, pancetta, salami, guanciale and about 40 cheeses as well as the store's own stubby sopressata and wandlike salsicce.

AS PORK STORE, 929 N. Broadway, Massapequa, 516-799-4332,

Talk about part of the Italian community: When Massapequa's Maria Regina Catholic church, est. 1955, outgrew its original space and moved to Seaford, Pasquale Giammarino took over the location and opened AS Pork Store. Since 1967 it has grown into a full-service Italian market, making its own sausage (fresh and dried), mozzarella, pasta and sauce; butchering fresh meat; retailing Italian imports. Co-owner Sam Cataldo started working at AS Pork Store in Massapequa in 1984, the year before he married Emily, the boss' daughter. And in January, Sam and Emily brought something new to AS: Neapolitan pizza. Saverio's Wood-fired Pizza is a narrow storefront, carved out of the store's production kitchen. It's barely large enough to contain its wood-burning oven, work counter and four tables. But it serves some of the best pizza on Long Island.

CERIELLO FINE FOODS, 541 Willis Ave., Williston Park, 516-747-0277,

Ceriello's in Williston Park is the center of an Italian-food empire with two locations on Long Island (the other in Wantagh), one in the city and three more in the Northeast. Its founder, Andrea Ceriello, emigrated from Italy in 1970 and laments the state of American pork. "In Italy, the pigs are bigger, with more fat and more flavor." That's why he buys as much fresh Berkshire pork as he can. ("Berkshire" is a breed of pigs that is much closer to the Italian variety.) His dried sausages are made, to his own specifications, by Licini Brothers in Union City, New Jersey, as are his pancetta and cottetchino. In 2011, Ceriello apprenticed himself to a sausage maker in Umbria to deepen his understanding of the art of salumi. "When you own a store like this, it's easy to get stagnant," he said. "I never want that to happen."

MR. SAUSAGE, 3 Union Pl., Huntington, 631-271-3836,

In 1988, Sal Baldanza and his three brothers, Rocco, Alberto and Joe, bought the venerable German pork store Mr. Sausage in Hicksville. The young men, recently emigrated from Calabria, had two main goals: live up to the name Mr. Sausage (though in an Italian, thoroughly "Signor Salsiccia" kind of way) and herald the store's new direction by bringing in the best imported Italian products they could find. Over the next two decades, Mr. Sausage closed the Hicksville store and moved to a freestanding building in Huntington village. In 2010, Baldanza started making his own fresh pasta and eventually he rejiggered the retail space so he could install a pasta-making station in full view. Baldanza often can be found behind the long granite counter, along with his four electric toys: one machine for rolling out sheets of dough for ravioli and lasagna noodles, one for extruding macaroni, one for making gnocchi and another for making cavatelli.

FRANK & MARIA'S, 10 W. Main St., Bay Shore, 631-665-0047,

Frank, Maria and Dominick Salvaggio opened this South Shore stalwart in 2006; in 2012 it took over the adjoining storefront, tripled in size and set about making more prepared foods, more cheeses and more sausages than ever. The grocery shelves are full of imported items, from the arcane (chickpea flour, for making pannelle fritters) to the kooky (cans of Cuoco condimento per macaroni con sarde, a shortcut to the Sicilian dish of pasta with sardines). The Salvaggios import unfiltered, extra-virgin oil from Caltabellotta, a town not far from Agrigento, their ancestral home in Sicily. The olives -- Biancolilla (accounting for 90 percent) and Nocellara del Belice (10 percent) -- are harvested in November, and by January, the pungent, green new oil (novello) makes its way to Bay Shore. It's sold in refillable 750-ml bottles.

SCOTTO'S, 25 W. Montauk Hwy., Hampton Bays, 631-728-5677,

Summers are "pazzo" at Scotto's, thanks to the droves of weekend customers from points west who drive through Hampton Bays on their way east. Between July Fourth and Labor Day, the year-round staff of five grows to 18. But even in the off-season, brother and sister Simone and Rachele Scotto, who opened the store in 1998, keep in mind the dictum of their father, Antonio Scotto, onetime owner of pork stores and pizzerias: "Do the right thing; forget about it. Do the wrong thing; think about it." Takeout orders are made from scratch (and can take up to 30 minutes), but there's plenty of food that's ready to go: milky-sweet homemade mozzarella, a truly superb soppressata, a butcher's counter full of fresh meat, bread from Sullivan Street Bakery in Manhattan, along with deli standards both Italian (olives, salumi, pasta) and American (cold cuts, salads) and excellent brick-oven pizza.

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