The 5 Italian Grocery Products Worth Splurging On

Beatrice Ughi, a native of Naples, Italy, and the founder of the online shop Gustiamo, shares five products from Italy that are worth the splurge.
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gustiamo graffiti and founder beatrice ughi

Beatrice Ughi at the Gustiamo warehouse in Bronx, New York; murals painted by local artists (left).

1. Faella Pasta

package of faella pasta

“It’s a planet apart from the commercial stuff,” says Ughi of this pasta made in super-small batches from only Italian wheat. To put things in perspective, the Faella factory in Gragnano (a.k.a. the City of Pasta) makes in a year what a mass-market brand would make in a single shift. Price: Buy at gustiamo.com, for $8 for about 1.1 lb. (500 grams).

2. Piennolo Tomatoes

jar of piennolo tomato sauce

Yes, you can get tomatoes stateside, but they won’t be the same as these, which are grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. “They’re shockingly fresh-tasting with a bold flavor that is both richly sweet and pleasantly tart,” says Ughi. Price: Buy at gustiamo.com, for $13.50 for an 18.6-oz. jar.

3. Anchovy Colatura

bottle of anchovy colatura sauce

If you think you don’t like anchovies, you haven’t tried this sauce made from fresh ones layered with sea salt and aged in wooden barrels. “At the end of two to three years, they poke a hole in the bottom of the barrel, and the colatura comes out, drop by drop,” says Ughi. “It’s umami on steroids.” (And, no, it doesn’t smell fishy.) Mix with olive oil and crushed garlic and serve with pasta, or pour it by itself over veggies. Price: Buy at gustiamo.com, for $24.50 for 3.3 oz.

4. Capers in Sea Salt

jar of capers in sea salt

Ughi describes the capers that grow on the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, as “much more capery-tasting” than the usual. These are cured in sea salt that’s full of the original minerals. Price: Buy at gustiamo.com, for $14.75 for 3.5 oz.

5. Noto Romana Almonds

package of noto romana almonds

“In Sicily, almond trees grow without water,” says Ughi. The result? Intensely sweet nuts that are dryer and denser than their Californian counterparts. Price: Buy at gustiamo.com, for $20.50 for 8.8 oz.