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GENUINE ITALIAN groceries in the Amherstview, Kingston, Prince Edward County (or Bay of Quinte) area

I've just recently moved from the Montreal area in Quebec to Amherstview, Ontario (just west of Kingston).

Can anyone help me to find a good AUTHENTIC Italian grocery or Italian store where I can get good Italian products, like pasta & parmeggiano reggiano cheese?? I know this is a far cry from the flavors of Montreal, but there must be somewhere within an hour's drive that caters to the Italian community .... or do i have to move back to Montreal??!!

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  1. Well you could move back to Montreal. Or you could just tell us in which city you wish to shop.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Googs

      I think she's looking in Amherstview or Kingston area.

      1. re: TorontoJo

        I think they're close to the bounty of Prince Edward County plus the chain and boutique stores of Kingston. I have a feeling they're luckier than they know. Wouldn't you wish to be a mere hour from PEC if you could?

        1. re: Googs

          Sure, but are they growing pasta and parmeggiano reggiano cheese in PEC now? That's what the OP asked for.

          1. re: foodyDudey

            Oh for the love of... they have STORES there. LOL To cook Italian, first you must start with good, fresh ingredients. Start with the harvest of PEC and finish with stores in an area convenient to the OP. Make it too difficult.and they really will move back.

          2. re: Googs

            I have friends who run a bbq thing at a winery in PEC, after the main harvest there is basically nothing in PEC. And I grew up in Kingston and still go there every other month or so to see my grandparents and I'm still amazed at the lack of good food stores in Kingston. I don't know of a place where you could go and get good quality cheese, good quality pasta and imported Italian tomatoes. Unless you count Loblaw’s. :-(

            EDIT - And my grandpa is a classically trained chef, so trust me, we been in every food store within an hour drive of the city. Not so great.

            1. re: JennaBean

              Which is the case everywhere once the harvest is over.

              Look, I'm not trying to be argumentative. I think the question requires a creative answer, not just a toss of hands in the air.

              What of Wilton Cheese? Are they no good? Does Fifth Town Artisan Cheese not make anything so practical as parmesan?

              1. re: Googs

                Wilton's parm is terrible. I stick to the curds, cheddars and what I call fun cheese like chive and garlic.

                Fifth Town is great and I love some of their hard cheese but they do not have anything close to an Italian parm.

                I wish that there were better options there but truly it is limited. As sad as it sounds Loblaws is probably the best bet.

          3. re: Googs

            I'd like to shop in Kingston and environs.

          4. giaceats, I forgot one of the basics. You might wish to repost with a more specific question in your subject line such as "Genuine Italian groceries in the Amherstview, Kingston, Prince Edward County (or Bay of Quinte) area". Something like that. You may get more help from the local Hounds that way.

            2 Replies
            1. I live in Kingston, and there are 2 shops that would suit some, but not all of your needs. First one is The Pasta Shelf on Bath Road near Days Road. They sell hand made pasta, both plain and stuffed, pestos, olives and so on with a selection of imported products but they are mostly in the business of selling fresh pasta to cook at home and a restaurant business. http://www.pastashelf.com/
              The second place is Pasta Genova in Downtown Kingston. They have a larger selection of Italian goods. http://www.yelp.ca/biz/pasta-genova-k...
              For Reggiano, you can go to Costco of all places for huge wedges which if cut and prepared properly will last forever in the fridge, and it is the real stuff. It has the right stamps and marks on the rind (I used to live in Italy and really, you don't want local "parmesan cheese", you want the real thing). Costco reliably has this, whereas other grocers such as Metro and Loblaws are hit and miss and 5 times the cost IF they have it. Those stores usually carry "parmesan cheese", which as we all know isn't the same thing. You can find Passata at the Costco, too. I've never seen this in Loblaws or the other stores, so I stocked up on it when I found it, so much better than "ground tomatoes"!
              For fresh Roma tomatos (if you are out of season), antipasto, olives, imported dried pasta such as Barilla and so on, the Loblaws in the west end near the Cat Town Center is your best bet. For in-season tomatoes, the Farmer's Market is your best best for fresh. Or you can grow your own LOL...no need to travel to Prince Edward County for fresh produce, as many of these growers will come to Kingston for the Farmer's Market. Fresh herbs, especially basil, is freely available in season at the Farmer's Market too. However, in the winter, Loblaws in the West End will be your best source. It will also be your best reliable source of fresh herbs, but in the dead of winter, some herbs may not be available. Basil is generally available, but it doesn't surprise me if there isn't any in the store and if the Loblaw's doesn't have basil or any other herb that you need for that matter, usually the other stores such as the Metro won't have them either. I try not to plan a basil-centered meal before actually having it in hand, if that makes sense! With respect to Genovese Basil, good luck finding it here! Its the traditional basil used in pesto. I do the best thing and order seedlings from Richters seeds (just google it); they are delivered from Toronto and I grow my own, make pesto and freeze it for the winter. Not ideal with the freezing, but heck I live in a small town with not so many resources LOL.and Genovese Basil does make a superior pesto I think.
              Best price on pine nuts and dried herbs is at the Bulk Barn, right by the Cataraqui Town Center. You can also find semolina flour there for homemade pasta and cornmeal for polenta.
              You can buy FRESH YEAST over the counter at Pan Chancho's Bakery downtown on Princess Street. http://panchancho.com/ THIS IS HUGE!!! Only place in town, you have to go to their salad/savory counter and ask for it, they'll sell it to you by weight. You can cut this into 10 or 20g pieces and freeze it. SOOO much better than dried yeast if you are making pane/foccacias/pizza dough, especially since the bulk of bread recipes from Italy call for fresh yeast.
              For quality cuts of meat and any special requests, I always go to The Pig and Olive butcher shop, they use locally sourced meats (except for their specialty items like kangaroo, seriously), and will prep things as you need. They are also on Bath Road at Days Road right next to Reid's Dairy. http://pigandolive.ca/
              If you are in Ottawa (1.5 hours each way BOO), there are a number of larger shops that can help you out, one in particular is in the Byward Market next to the Bay exit. I don't know the name, but that is one of the larger and best ones I've found. I'll travel there for special items. I'll go to the Pasta Shelf for fresh pasta and fresh pesto, and go to Cafe Genova for oils/balsamico for daily use and pizza dough and so on (if I don't feel like making it LOL), then get the rest from the shops outlined above. Keep in mind that Kingston only has 110,000 people so supply really does reflect a small town demand. There are even items I can't find in Ottawa, and in that case, Toronto is your next best option (Ricotta Buffala for example, can't get that reliably in Ottawa unfortunately, so I get it in Toronto and freeze it).
              If you took all these products and put them in ONE store, you'd have a pretty slamming Italian shop. Unfortunately, though, Kingston is no Montreal, and you have to shop around.
              Hope this helps! Welcome to Kingston!

              -----
              Pasta Shelf
              1749 Bath Rd, Kingston, ON K7M4Y1, CA

              14 Replies
              1. re: freia

                That may be the most thorough and considerate answer I've ever read. Bravo.

                1. re: Googs

                  I think I have a new business plan should I ever move back to K-Town. That city could use and support a true gourmet food store.

                  Pig and Olive is my fav butcher in Kignston. They actually have stuff that can be hard to find even here in Toronto if you don't have a good supply network.

                  Freia - I've shopped at Pasta Shelf (my family lives near Centre 70) but I find that the quality leave something to be desired. Do you have a rec for what you consider their top tier pasta?

                  For instance the last thing we got from there was one of the pasta that's assembled and then you just bake it. The pasta was chewy and dense and the sauce heavy and not at all refined and needed some salt. My grandparernts are old and can't cook as much as they used to and I would like to have a good source of quality ready made meals that I can purchase and leave there for them. Any rec's would be great.

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                  Pasta Shelf
                  1749 Bath Rd, Kingston, ON K7M4Y1, CA

                  1. re: JennaBean

                    Hey there!
                    I totally agree...their premade and bake at home pastas tend to be pretty dense, especially with respect to lasagnes, unfortunately. I tend to purchase their fresh stuffed pastas and make my own sauces for them.
                    Probably the best option for fresh and variety in Kingston would be SupperWorks http://www.supperworks.com/
                    I'm not sure if this is too much of a commitment for you with respect to the number of entrees you need to purchase (as in, you can't drop in and just pick up dinner, you have to pick up 12 dinners LOL), but it really is a great way to go. You either go to the store and assemble and take home, or they can assemble for you and you take it home. I also believe they have a delivery option, which would be great for the grandparents. The thing though is you do have to assemble it and cook it, but the aggravation of chopping and measuring and cleaning is done for you. All meals come with a recipe and you can find these online. This might be a good compromise for the grandparents if the actual mix and put in the oven isn't too much of a chore, but the chopping and measuring and cleaning is the issue.
                    Another option for the precooked meals would be M and M Meatshops, they specialize in frozen entrees and so on. They are at Gardiners Road and Taylor Kidd, and also on Bath Road. I have a friend who is single, hates cooking, and eats exclusively from there. She says that for a frozen entree, this is probably the best option for her. http://www.mmmeatshops.com/en/index.asp
                    You might also try Cafe Genova to see what they can preassemble for you, too.
                    Hope this helps!
                    :)

                    1. re: freia

                      I didn't know they had a SupperWorks. I will look into the option further for sure. My nan got into the M&M products and while they are good they have a lot of sodium. Not good for a pair grands' in their 70s and 80s. :-)

                      Thank you!

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        My parents are the same way...no easy solutions for this :)

                  2. re: Googs

                    I'll drink to that!! ... BRAVO!!!

                  3. re: freia

                    Thank you so much, Freia ... you have supplied me with a real wealth of informaion, and you really understand what I'm looking for! I think some of the other Chowhounds are not "quite" sure what Italian products I was specifically looking for and that there is such a difference in QUALITY between "grocery products" and "imported" goods, like the REAL parm!....... maybe I was a bit unclear or didn't describe my quest well enough ..... not to demean them, but ONLY an Italian-food-lover would appreciate my quandry, and you have succeeded in doing that beautifully.

                    Since I have only been living in Amherstview a few months, I have not yet visited Pasta Shelf because I thought it was only a restaurant .... my fault for not experimenting, i guess. I'll try there within the next few days, you can be sure.

                    Thank you for the clue on getting good parm at Costco .... never even thought i would find such a product there. It is a surprise. Perhaps some of the other Chowhounds can now sit down to a good home-made pasta meal and partake of the "cheese of the gods"! ... lol.

                    And thank you for info on the Bulk Barn .... been there and they have many good products at reasonable prices. Other Chowhounds have mentioned "Pig & Olive" .... another place for me to try soon.

                    I really appreciate the time and effort you and the other food hounds have spent on my query and I assure you that I will take all of your opinions & suggestions to heart. I guess I have been spoiled by simply being able to drive down to "Little Italy" in Montreal, where one can buy just about any imported Italian product his/her heart desires.

                    And a special thank you to you, Freia, for all your suggestions. Believe me, the time you spent answering this post will not go unnoticed or unappreciated. May your pantry always be filled and may the gods bless you with all the fruits and bounty this great country has to offer .... Buon appetito, cara amica!! Perhaps one day we can break bread together and discuss the merits of Genovese basil!

                    -----
                    Pasta Shelf
                    1749 Bath Rd, Kingston, ON K7M4Y1, CA

                    1. re: giaceats

                      It was my pleasure, giaceats! You're just down the road from me (I'm in the Collins Bay area) and I completely understand the issues around moving from one big center to a smaller one (been there, done that). I'll repost if I find any more gems in Kingston (still on the search for ostie for homemade torrone).
                      :)

                      1. re: freia

                        Thank you so much, Freia ..... I hope I can return the favor some day.

                    2. re: freia

                      I absolutely second Pasta Genova. I am an Italian kid who grew up in Hamilton and then went to Queen's, and this place was the only resource that made the food situation in Kingston livable (this was several years ago, glad to see your options have expanded even at the larger grocery stores - when i lived there I went to the A&P and asked where the pasta aisle was and they looked at my like I was nuts). If memory serves, they have good homemade sausage and fresh pasta. I took a friend in there one day, and he was convinced we should try to bottle the smell of the air in that place and sell it.

                      Also, btw - the place in the Byward Market that was referenced is Nicastro's, I believe. Also excellent.

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                      Byward Cafe
                      55 Byward Market Sq, Ottawa, ON K1N9C3, CA

                      1. re: wickalicious

                        THAT'S the name ! Thanks, wickalicious! I know the place by location and not by name LOL!

                      2. re: freia

                        Thanks so much for the clue about Pasta Genova ...... I came across the store (called Pasta G) in downtown Kingston on Wellington Street, right opposite the parking lot near the corner of Queen. It doesn't have everything, but it will surely satisfy most of my cravings. It does have a wonderful assortment of Italian products, including great cheeses, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars. And their sandwiches (made for you on the spot) use frsh focaccia bread and any choice of cold cuts and cheese that you request ..... they're scrumptious!

                        They also carry home-made pasta, sauces, and a variety of products to suit a Montrealer's Italian palate. It took me a while to get downtown, but the trip was worth it. I want to thank you so much, and all the other Chowhounds who tried to help. All of your advice was happily taken, and it did pay off. Halleluliah!!!

                        1. re: giaceats

                          xoxoxox glad you found it, and glad everything is working out for you!
                          :)

                          1. re: freia

                            xoxoxox ..... Thank you so much, freia ...... I really hope one day my wife & I can get to meet you over a nice plate of Italian food. You have been a big help in my search. Thanks again! (Jim)

                      3. Been a lifetime since I lived there, but doesn't Quattrocchi's on Montreal St carry Italian products?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Wiley1

                          Thanx for the info, Wiley1 ..... it "sounds" genuine Italian, but I'll check into it asap.

                          1. re: Wiley1

                            I saw that when I was pokng around, Have you ever shopped there? I ask because of the general sketchiness of the exterior.
                            http://maps.google.ca/maps?q=662+mont...

                            1. re: Googs

                              Not in a dog's age..yeah, the loading docks etc. never looked pristine, and I probably only ventured in once or twice but can't remember if it had anything the mainstream markets didn't.

                            2. re: Wiley1

                              When I moved here I thought "Quattrouchi's, how much more Italian can you get?" so I went there. VERRRY disappointed. I came here right from Ottawa so I knew what I was looking for and Quattrouchi's didn't have a thing. They carry fresh produce like lettuce, tomatoes, nothing different from what you can get at any grocery store or the Farmer's Market. Didn't see a single Italian product of note. Very disappointed! It was my first stop in Kingston for Italian products: thus commenced the search for specialty products here in Kingston. :)

                              1. re: freia

                                Went to Quattrouchi's this morning (Sunday) .... place looked closed/deserted ...no cars around, but I'll try again during the week .... my next trek will be to Pasta Shelf & Pasta/Cafe Genova. I'll let youse all know if it has anything "interesting".

                                -----
                                Pasta Shelf
                                1749 Bath Rd, Kingston, ON K7M4Y1, CA