How long have you been running the family business?
My mother and father opened this place in December of 1999—it was my father's retirement dream. It was just a tiny hole-in-the-wall, but the location was very deliberate; it was kitty-corner to my great-great-grandfather's store. He opened the first Italian import food store in Seattle in 1903. My husband and I took over in 2002. My dad still comes in once or twice a week to check up on us—he taste tests everything we make.
What are your future plans for this place?
About two years ago, we opened up our own curing facility, and last October we doubled the size of the facility. That's enough for us. We've had the opportunity to expand, but I like the feel of this place. My main concern right now is to keep the quality of the food as high as it's always been, and to keep our loyal customers satisfied. That's enough for me.
What is the meat-curing process like?
It's a mixture of the scientific and artistic. There are strict formulas you must follow to create a safe product, but then there's also the spicing of the meat to make it unique and flavorful. We recently came out with the agrumi, which is spiced with orange and cardamom.
Who's behind all of the sandwich and pasta creations?
It's a family effort. The manicotti is my grandmother's recipe and my father created all the sandwich sauces. The meats, we experiment with—although we have a few staples, like our meatballs and oxtail.
What's the best meal you've ever had?
Eating paella outdoors in Spain. There are many places that make paella outside, and it makes all the difference. Sunshine is like a seasoning. I loved watching the dish being prepared and then eating it in the sun.