Sacramento boasts of its farm-to-fork reputation, but an Italian delegation visiting the city on Monday hopes that residents also will be receptive to a taste of Tuscany.
About a dozen members of a trade and business delegation from the city of Lucca in Italy’s famed Tuscany region showed off their wares Monday morning at Adamo’s Kitchen restaurant in midtown Sacramento.
Most of the visiting merchants are small-business operators and farmers, looking to gain a foothold for their products in Northern California, statewide and, ultimately, nationwide. The delegation met with California lawmakers later Monday and will head to San Francisco on Tuesday.
“We start in California because of its people, with a large Italian population base,” said Domenico Tani, an Italian journalist and one of the delegation leaders. “We believe California is also receptive to what we have.”
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Because the group cannot produce products in the large quantities demanded by major supermarkets, it is reaching out to food distributors and specialty retailers.
John Adamo, co-owner of Adamo’s Kitchen, said he was happy to throw open the doors of his restaurant two hours before its usual 11 a.m. opening time for the delegation. Display tables packed with products lined the walls of the eatery at 2107 P St.
“I just thought it was a wonderful opportunity to let Sacramento know about these amazing homegrown products,” he said.
Most products on display were foodstuffs, running the gamut with meats, cheeses, wines, sauces, mustards, homegrown snack foods and jellies. On this day, English was a second language, but the products on display had long-standing appeal, dating back decades in the Tuscan culture.
Paolo Nutini, the 34-year-old owner of Antica Macelleria, is part of a family business dating back to the 19th century. Working behind a table stacked high with cheeses, meats, sauces and other assorted products, he said he was anxious “for California to try all this. This is my passion. It’s my family.”
Tani explained that the delegation was hopeful of simply making inroads into California stores, offering an alternative to what consumers might find in large-volume supermarkets.
“What (the Italian merchants) have here is unique. They are not corporate giants. They are farmers, just a few acres in some cases. They tend the cows, work the land. … California is willing to try something unique for their table. That’s what we have to offer.”
Tani and Adamo said the visiting Italian merchants do not have the clout of a large, multinational corporation, making a traveling delegation a good fit to make a face-to-face impression on California lawmakers and residents.
One of the morning visitors at Adamo’s Kitchen was state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who was optimistic about the prospects of the merchants: “I think it’s wonderful to have them in California, representing Tuscany and Lucca. … I like the diversity, to experience different things. It adds to what we have here in California and our own country.”
Adamo said the delegation’s trip was backed by the Bank of Lucca, and Tani said it’s the first wave of planned multiple outreach efforts.
“We are not in a hurry. We want to come back, next time with chefs cooking the food,” Tani said. “For us, it’s not about making profit right away. It’s important to get people to try what we have, because the taste needs no translation.”
Tani said a second wave likely will visit California again in October.