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Whole Foods Offers Customers ‘A Little Italy’
February 11, 2020
Source: Progressive Grocer

Perhaps in a bid to better compete with experiential retailers such as Eataly, Whole Foods Market will provide customers in New York; Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta the opportunity to enjoy intimate Italian pop-up dinners on Feb. 20, co-hosted by the grocer’s cheese, wine and culinary experts, in addition to the country’s cheesemakers and prosciutto suppliers. Each “A Little Italy” dinner will consist of an authentic, family-style meal comprising six courses, including Cacio e Pepe featuring Pecorino Romano with Parmigiano Reggiano grated at the table, and Osso Buco served over rosemary polenta.

“Our dedicated team members travel throughout Italy to bring the finest traditionally produced Italian items to Whole Foods Market stores, and we’re excited to offer these authentic products together on a dinner menu for one night only,” noted Cathy Strange, VP of specialty at Austin-based Whole Foods. “We want our guests to feel like they’ve been invited for a meal in Nonna’s kitchen.”

Dinner attendees will also partake of curated wine and prosecco pairings complementing each course. At each meal, American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals will hold an 80-pound Parmigiano Reggiano wheel-cracking demonstration as they discuss the craftsmanship that goes into producing the northern Italian variety. Further, during the antipasti course, Italian suppliers will shave prosciutto on-site for sampling and pairing, and at dessert, trained baristas will pour Allegro Coffee made with La Marzocco espresso machines.

Starting Feb. 13 at 12 p.m. ET, customers can reserve a place at dinner, where the following numbers of seats are available:

- New York: 20 seats
- Los Angeles: 25 seats
- Austin: 28 seats
- Atlanta: 33 seats

Those who can’t make the first-come-first-served experiences, however, can just go to their nearest Whole Foods location.

“If you aren’t able to score a seat to ‘A Little Italy,’ we invite you to experience our extensive assortment of delicious Italian products – all of which meet our rigorous quality standards – at your local Whole Foods Market store,” added Strange. “Visit select stores on Feb. 22 at 3 p.m. local time to watch a hand-selected wheel of authentic Italian Parmigiano Reggiano be cracked live. It’s our annual celebration of the 'King of Cheeses!'”

The chain also carries a wide range of Italian products under its own Whole Foods Market and 365 Everyday Value brands, as well as imported Principe Prosciutto Di Parma and Peroni Beer, among other authentic items. Starting Feb. 12, Whole Foods will also roll out special offers on certain fresh pastas, cheeses and made-in-house Italian sausage.

Whole Foods has more than 500 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Under the Whole Foods banner, Seattle-based Amazon is No. 10 on Progressive Grocer’s 2019 Super 50 list of the top grocers in the United States.

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