It’s 1982. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" album hits No. 1; Epcot opens at Disney World and a major recession hits the United States.
It’s also the same year the Mastrantoni brothers — Rocco, Alfonso, Vinny and Armando — bought the now 37-year-old Sansone Foods on Jericho Turnpike in Garden City Park from its founders. Today, Rocco’s children, Leonardo, Rocky and Felicia, are positioning it for the next 40 years.
Sansone became so successful selling imported foods directly to local pizzerias and Italian restaurants, that, in 1986, it moved to a 13,000-square-foot warehouse a half-block away.
Last month, the Mastrantonis took the final step in embracing their retail side, opening Sansone Market on the site of the original location (which the family had been using for operations).
Throughout, shoppers can find anything from fresh produce to seafood, pasta, sauce, coffee, olive oil and more. A wall of nine varieties of self-serve nuts and beans is available, and, of course, Italian staples including glass-jar Nutella hazelnut spread, caponata, panettone and fiesta snacks, and even authentic laundry soap, cleaning supplies and effervescent antacid. Some hard-to-find beverages that can be found here include Yoga peach-nectar juice, Coca-Cola (made with sugar cane instead of sugar), and non-alcoholic Crodino and Sanbitter aperitifs.
A small nook in the market — called the cafe — is where customers can grab hot beverages, housemade gelato, fresh breads, sweets, like cannoli, cream puffs, panacota and cheesecake, and oven-baked goods, like prosciutto bread, focaccia with tuna and onion, quiche and zucchini pie.
The back of the market makes up the shop’s salumi and cheese section, stacked with chef Caesar Casella’s domestic prosciutto, Alps Provision sopressata, Fulvi Pecorino Romano and Auricchio provolone, among a variety of other meat-and-cheese selections. Antipasti include stuffed mushrooms, eggplant towers (with mozzarella and roasted red peppers), pasta with sausage and sun dried tomatoes, and roasted Brussels sprouts and broccoli rabe.
It’s also where customers can order from nine sandwiches, including the Roccoroma (Italian tuna, red onion, tomato and arugula); Il Ciociaro (Ciociaro sausage, broccoli rabe and cherry peppers); and the Italiano Cubano (porchetta, asiago, cooked prosciutto and artichoke spread) or four salads, including the tricolor (mixed baby greens, radicchio, endive and arugula) and the Cleopatra (cucumber, tomatoes, Kalamata, pepperoncini, feta and oregano).
A nearby corner is stocked with barrels of olives including cerignola, Castelvetrano and Gaeta.
Sansone Market is at 2147 Jericho Tpke. in Garden City Park. It’s open Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 516-447-3525. sansonemarketgardencity.com.
Sansone Foods wholesale is at 2133 Jericho Tpke. in Garden City Park. It’s open weekdays from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 516-746-3695. sansonefoods.com.