Delizioso! Italian specialties brighten the corner of Metropolitan & Leonard.
Like many successful partnerships, this one began over a drink. That being said, Tito Pecoraro and Claudio Sottile had already known each other for years. Their long-standing friendship is evident today in the way that they finished each other’s sentences during their phone call with Greenline. This unified energy has surely propelled their business, which has continued to flourish, even during a pandemic charged economic crisis.
The recently-opened market and café, Pecoraro Latteria, is an extension of the Pecoraro family’s fabled cheese business, established in the early 70s and known for its freshest, hand-pulled mozzarella, ricotta, and other Italian cheeses. And yet this venture began even earlier, in the early 60s, when Tito’s father, uncle, and other family members opened the C&P Deli in the same location. This sandwich shop was closed in the 80s when their cheesemaking went into “large-scale private label distribution,” as Pecoraro puts it. The choice was to focus on that. A factory in the Rome/Utica area in central New York was the base of this operation, producing cheese, yogurt, and other wholesale dairy products.
The idea for the Latteria was planted four years ago on the night of that fateful drink between friends. “Tito expressed interest in shifting the family business from private label manufacturing to more of a local brand,” Sottile says. He was hired practically on the spot as director of operations, and wasted no time channeling instincts honed by his enduring acquaintance with this pioneering neighborhood family and their iconic brand. “The space sat empty on the corner. Once I learned about its history, the logical next step was to revive C&P. [Pecoraro Latteria] began as a cheese shop, but we slowly added to the concept, until it became what it is today, six decades in the making,” said Sottile.
Sottile will enthusiastically tell you, the Latteria is not only the latest evolution of the family business, but it is a homage to what has always made the Pecoraro brand indispensable: seasonally-driven products of the highest caliber. The Latteria showcases their celebrated cheeses and dairy creations alongside fresh-baked artisan breads and pastries, on-site made antipasti, panini, air-dried meats, and other European-style artisan products that are made in America such as: Tempesta Salumi, Wild Hive Farm flours, and the coveted Bianco DiNapoli brand of canned tomatoes. “Anywhere you go in Italy, you find this type of thing,” he says, “I grew up in an Italian family, and now I’m bringing something I hold dear in my heart to Brooklyn.”
It hasn’t been an easy year for anybody, but the Latteria team has not only stayed afloat but thrived during this pandemic by adapting. “COVID brought everything to a screeching halt,” Sottile ruefully remarked on the construction process, “what would have normally taken a month to complete took seven months.” In addition, the search for the right employees was a sobering facet. An early posting for two positions drew 286 resumes. Sottile is sympathetic, “It’s a tough time for the hospitality industry. People who were sous-chefs are applying for dishwasher positions. They’ll take anything they can.”
Pecoraro and Sottile have big plans. “You won’t be able to find this stuff at [a franchised grocery store]. We want to engage the community. Give face to the name,” said Sottile. The vision of what Pecoraro Latteria will be to the Williamsburg cultural melting pot is still coalescing. Its potential is currently dependent upon pandemic safety protocols and looks to fully take shape in 2021. “We can’t wait,” Pecoraro and Sottile affirm, basically in unison.
But duty calls. “We wear lots of hats here,” Pecoraro announces as he, from the sounds of it, approaches a customer. “Got some bread to bake,” Sottile informs me. And with that, they’re off.
Pecoraro Latteria is located at 636 Metropolitan Avenue. Its hours of operation are: Tues–Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They are closed on Mondays. For more information go to: www.pecoraronyc.com