We've heard a lot of good things about , the Italian deli and market that opened recently on Broad Street.
So Manchester Patch Editor David Moran decided to pop in one day last week and speak with the owner for our latest Small Business Spotlight. What he found in Claudio Menesello was a friendly, affable Sicilian with a passion for good food and good service that was downright contagious.
La via del Gusto, which occupies the front of at 255 Broad St., is equal parts quaint neighborhood coffee shop and gourmet speciality market, and each customer was greeted with a friendly hello and encouraged to try many of the oils, sauces and pastries that Claudio and his staff make from scratch each day (which were quite delicious)!
After Claudio finished plying Moran with food, and a very good espresso, they finally got down to the interview.
Manchester Patch: Claudio, you're from Sicily and live in Hamdem, so what made you decide to open in Manchester?
Claudio Menesello: First of all because this town needs some Italian products - real Italian products. Because you have nothing here. Second of all, they're doing all these wonderful things with Broad Street here in town that it was just too good of a location to pass up.
Plus, in the New Haven area, a lot of people are from the Naples area of Italy. Here in the East Hartford/Manchester area east of the (Connecticut) River there's a lot more people with Sicilian roots.
Manchester Patch: You've spent many years in the importing business, and your roots are Sicilian, how does your past experience and culture apply to the products you make and sell here at La via del Gusto?
Claudio Menesello: What I do is I try to bring back the taste of my region, because Italy has many different regions. Sicily is one of the regions where we work a lot with peppers, tomatoes, oranges, because of the weather.
Where I'm from, coffee is very important, oil is very important. These are the base of everything we make here, and if your base is no good, your product is no good.
Manchester Patch: You opened the business last September, how are things going so far?
Claudio Menesello: I can see it growing day by day. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can have. Everybody who has come here and tried our products has told somebody else about us.
Manchester Patch: What are your most popular products and when are you busiest?
Claudio Menesello: We do a little bit of everything here. People come in in the morning and they get their coffee and pastries, then they come for lunch and get a sandwich, and maybe they'll come back in later and do some shopping for dinner.
Our mornings are starting to get really busy. In the morning, people love to come down and have their coffee or cappuccino and a Cannoli. People here in America have never really tried the real deal.
Manchester Patch: That's something that you've mentioned several times - the authentic nature of your food and products. Everything that's not imported from Italy, you make from scotch here at the restaurant, so is it safe to say that the experience of a sandwich or a pastry at La via del Gusto can't be replicated anywhere else?
Claudio Menesello: That's certainly what we're aiming for. We like to make our customers feel welcome and we like them to sit down and enjoy our food. You've got to sit down and enjoy our grinders here, because we make some very good grinders.
We're good people. We try and help everybody and be fair with everybody. The product that we offer is unique and of a very high quality, and the price is fair, so people appreciate that.
But most of all what I want my customers to take away is the right idea of what it is to eat real Italian food.
Do you have a local business in Manchester that you want spotlighted in a future column? First, on Manchester Patch, then contact Manchester Editor David Moran.