DiGregorio's Market: It's a Family Affair

At DiGregorio's Market, you're likely to find a soft-spoken, grandmotherly woman behind the register, greeting regular customers by name. This is Dora, the wife of original owner Salvatore DiGregorio. She owns the store with three of her children (Frank, John and Toni), who are there more often than not (as is John's wife, Dorothy). If it's a weekday, her grandchildren are probably around, too.

This family business is best known for its house-made salsiccia, but it also offers other house-made sausages, sauces, ravioli, pizzas and soups, with several key items made from family recipes. Quality and freshness are paramount here; spedini and braciole are made on the premises whenever they run low. (For the uninitiated, both of these consist of thinly sliced meat wrapped around stuffings, but spedini is smaller and breaded).

Traditional values are also evident in the Italian and Sicilian pride items (ballcaps, buttons, aprons, onesies) and the wide selection of serving pieces and kitchen items from the modern (silicone oven mitts) to the decidedly Old World (wooden gnocchi boards and pointy cone molds).

The original store opened in 1971 and held only a smattering of cooking stuff. In 2004, the family more than doubled the space by renovating their former warehouse next door, allowing the collection room to grow along with everything else. Today, meat grinders, tea towels, stovetop coffeemakers, pinch bowls, scrapers, and scads of other practical tools occupy several areas.

Everything is neatly and densely arranged, but the store is so spacious it doesn't feel crowded. There's a lot to see, so allow yourself plenty of time to browse and ask questions (someone will likely ask you if you have any while waving to a customer). The deli counter can get three or four deep on a Saturday, but the family vibe extends to the regulars, so don't be afraid to ask what they're picking up.

If you're in the mood for something beyond coppa or soppresso, try speck, a salt-cured, cold-smoked prosciutto that's difficult to find, even on the Hill. Keep their butchery services in mind too; not many people know they will cut meat to your specifications. In the freezer case are more treasures. Veal (housed here because it's too delicate for the deli case) shares space with octopus, lobster tails and shrimp. This is also where you'll find the aforementioned prepared foods.

Their sections of wines, liqueurs, olive oils and balsamic vinegars are almost shockingly extensive, and while they carry the pricey stuff, they also have affordable options. Naturally, their dry pasta selection is high-quality, and they have literally everything else you need for any Italian recipe you can think of. Can't think of one? Visit the recipe rack by the deli case.

If you want to support a family business, put together a fantastic Italian meal and pick up tools to make it with, head to DiGregorio's. You may even feel a little like family by the time you leave.

DiGregorio's Market, 5200 Daggett Ave., 314.776.1062, digregoriofoods.com