Although Eataly is clearly the most recognized purveyor of Italian goods in New York, there is something about Via Della Scrofa—a new specialty shop smack-dab in the middle of the East Village—that feels even more authentic than the mega market that has come to define the Flatiron.
Owned by the folks that operated the charming Italian restaurant Via Della Pace before it burned down in February of 2020, the tiny Via Della Scrofa quietly opened on East 4th Street less than a week ago, carrying Italian goods that are sure to delight expatriates.
From a variety of dried goods by the famous brand Mulino Bianco (baiocchi! Chicche! Tarallucci!) to different types of panettone (the traditional Christmas bread-like cake eaten in Milan) and a deli section with sandwiches, coffee and more, the bodega-like store feels exactly like a trip to the European country—and so does chatting with one of the store's owners, 42-year-old Giovanni Bartocci.
Immediately friendly and boasting the kind of humor that fellow Italians mostly appreciate, Bartocci explains the meaning of the store's name, which translates to "Scrofa street" from the Italian. "Via Della Scrofa in Rome is next to Via Della Pace," says Bartocci, recalling the restaurant that him and partner Marco Ventura, 35, used to own. "It's also a cute name because, with all the stuff you can eat in here, we're bound to become scrofi." That is: little piglets.
Bartocci is also quick to impart an interesting culinary lesson that specifically applies to Americans. "Via Della Scrofa is also a very important street to Americans because it is where the restaurant Alfredo Alla Scrofa is," he explains. "Alfredo's wife was sick and so he made her fettuccine with butter and cheese. An American woman asked, what is she eating? And Alfredo offhandedly said, 'Alfredo's sauce!'" Alas, a new sauce was born and exported.
As for the inspiration behind the store, Bartocci reveals that, while on a hunt to find a new home for Via Della Pace, him and Ventura landed on this tiny shop that will actually live on the same block as the new restaurant (same name, different address), although an official opening date has yet to be revealed ("We hope very soon," says Bartocci.)
Although strictly carrying Italian treats (with the exception of Mexican coke because, according to Bartocci, "it is just the best one out there!"), the draw of Via Della Scrofa is the cast of characters found inside. A chat with Bartocci and Ventura is worth the trip downtown in and of itself. Add to that the Italian radio playing in the background (radio DJ, for those in the know) and the pictures that adorn the space, including a signed photo of Sophia Loren, and you've got yourself a little slice of Italy in downtown New York City. Which, ironically, is a very New York City-like kind of thing.
And just in case you need a reason to visit the new shop over Eataly, you should know that, currently, Via Della Scrofa is the only spot that carries Galatine, the popular Italian milk candies, in New York. What are you waiting for? Go get yourself some.