It might seem like I only eat what I’ve foraged from the farmers market, and that my diet is solely pasture-fed and all-organic. To an extent that is my philosophy, but don’t expect me to pull a Gwyneth-style mea culpa—I have always loved Italian meats and cheeses and no healthy diet is going to change that.  Truly, a life without Prosciutto di Parma and hard salami is no life at all.

Leave the gun, take the cannoli (cake)

Thankfully, there’s Mazzaro’s Italian Market in St. Petersburg, essentially Tampa Bay’s holy grail of Italian foods. When I am jonseing for authentic Italian ingredients to make a meal at home, or want a quick Mediterranean fix, I head to Mazzaro’s.  The reasons are numerous, but it’s a one-stop shop. Featuring an amazing bakery with homemade bread (the cannoli cake alone is worth the trip), there is also an extensive butcher’s counter and market with a huge selection of oils, vinegars and other Italian non-perishables.

Mazzaro’s deli and prepared foods are a great value. Their hot and cold Italian sub sandwiches are $5-$6 and can easily feed two people—topped with a delicious Italian coleslaw that balances the salty meats and gives the sandwich a little crunch. The prepared food offerings are voluminous and vary day to day, but you can expect lots of sides like Fennel and Orange Salad with Olives, entrées like Pork Osso Buco and Chicken Milanese, all priced per pound.  The homemade sauces and fresh pasta case makes an easy to grab-n-go, an important tip because Mazzaro’s can be a little overwhelming because it’s always crowed.

My suggestion if you come during the lunch rush, relax and plan on spending an hour there. There is an Italian patio in the back of the store where you can enjoy sandwiches and the prepared foods you selected and coolers full of cold drinks including soda from Italy. Be sure to grab an espresso on your way out—Mazzaro’s roasts all their beans in-house.

Check out more of my Mazzaro’s photos on Instagram.

2909 22nd Avenue N, St. Petersburg, Florida. Tel: (727) 321-2400. Closed at 2pm on Saturdays and closed Sundays.

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