I never met Dominic Coluccio, but I know that I would have liked him. A lot.
The business he founded more than half a century ago is among my favorite specialty food shops on the planet: D. Coluccio & Sons, on 60th St. at 12th Ave., in Brooklyn, New York.
It's where I buy many of my most crucial staples: Italian cheeses and pasta flours and tomatoes and olives and figs and chickpea flour and salted fish and dried beans and anchovies and polenta and candies and a lot of other things. Virtually all of it comes from Italy. Coluccio's isn't just a food store; in fact, it's largely an importer and a wholesaler.
This is no "New Brooklyn" yuppie hangout, friends. It's the real deal. Old school. English is a second language here. I'm not kidding. Listen to the shoppers walking the aisles and waiting at the cheese counter; many, if not most, parlano Italiano.
I love this place!
The only thing that I don't get is how far under the radar it flies. I know lifelong New Yorkers who had never heard of Coluccio's until I mentioned it to them. Some even live in Brooklyn. Recently one of my crew had to inform the chef/owner of a very fine (and known) Manhattan restaurant of Coluccio's existence; in a matter of days the chef was an enthusiastic and loyal customer.
Shop there. Don't shop there. Makes no difference to me. Just don't ever say that I didn't try and steer you right. Because I just did.
This is only a portion of the pasta aisle. If you are looking for a particular type or shape of dried pasta and it isn't here, then maybe it only exists in your imagination.
Italian chestnuts, along with any other fresh nut you may desire.
Dried beans and lentils. The store has about every type you could ever need.
What did I tell you? Even some of the signage is in Italian. (It's tomato paste, by the way.)
"The Captain" (aka, my favorite cheesemonger) dives into a can of salted fish.
Speaking of which, this is how the front of the store looked around the holidays. Good luck finding a place that stocks more varieties of dry salted fish.
Rarely do I get out of the store without a pound or two of these peppers.
I'd have to say that the cheeses might be the store's biggest draw for me. These are just some of the many hard Italian cheeses Coluccio's carries, and there are plenty of others as well. Want to taste a real burrata — from Italy? That's a very difficult find in the U.S., but you can get it here sometimes. The Parmigiano-Reggiano at Coluccio's is excellent and very well priced (trust me, I go through a ton of it). And if you have never had a real Romano cheese (like, from Rome, where not much is produced) then you must try a chunk of the Genuino Romano. It's another thing you can't find very often, but you can always get it here.
You don't go to Coluccio's to get sliced meats, you go for whole salami and hunks of prosciutto or pancetta, like that. Hey, what can I tell you? They don't do slices.
This Nutella is different than the kind you see around the country. Because it's in a real glass jar and because it's made in Italy. Coluccio's imports every size jar, even the 11-pound (plastic) monster on the right.
Bakers take note: There's a ridiculous variety of flavorings in stock. I tried to count them all but The Captain had a very important question about my cheese order and so I had to run.
Frozen sfogliatelle and cannoli cream from Cannoli Plus. I hate to break this to you but a lot of pastry shops buy their stuff this way instead of making it themselves.
And so consider this an enthusiastic recommendation to stop by the store should you be in the area.
If you happen to run into Louis Coluccio or his father Luigi, tell them the Meatball sent you. And that I'll be by to see them again real soon.