Anyone visiting for the first time, as I did just yesterday, will undergo sensory overload. Stepping off an uninspiring road through North Haven and into the atmosphere that is Liuzzi’s is a physical and mental trip into a bustling, bright, colorful party in Italy.
The ceiling is literally dripping in shiny, colored paper packages and freshly made, wrapped cheese lines the walls. Hundred of varieties of cheese, mozzarella and eggplant stuffed breads, full quiches to-go, a stacked deli counter bursting with flavourful meats, imported sweets and snacks and sodas fill this pristinely kept shop to the brim.
“It’s an absolute gem,” says a regular customer of over thirty years as he fills his cart.
Ladies pack their trollies with Liuzzi’s own cheese, olive oil, hard pastas and dough. Kids guzzle down Foxon creme soda while employees exchange giggles in their native Italian.
Words like ethnic and gourmet come to mind and I can’t help but pick up a giant stuffed bread and three delectable crab cakes for just over 12 bucks.
“Cheese is our main thing. We have over 20 types,” says owner Dom Liuzzi, who learned the trade from his father, a master cheese-maker who made his way from Italy to American in 1962.
“We’re a one-stop shop, we’ve got around 500 different cheeses, imported and domestic, around 20 are our own recipes” said Liuzzi.
Liuzzi’s burrata cheese recipe, which is a shell of fresh mozzarella with a cream-like mixture in the center, placed second in the burrata section of the National American Cheese Society competition held in Montreal in 2011.
Liuzzi’s was up against 258 companies from Mexico, America and Canada, which included the likes of Kraft, Sorrento and Carr Valley. They also placed second at the competition for Scamorza in the Mozarella category and third place for Ovoline in the Fresh Mozarella category.
You might not know what to reach for first when you visit, but Liuizzi has a suggestion.
"As we head into the Easter season, the pizza rustica, which is like a 'hand pie,' that's pretty big around this time of year," said Liuzzi. "Basically, back in the old days, everything you had left in the fridge, you'd chop it up and make like an egg mixture with all the meat and everything, sort of like a quiche. It's very good."
Liuzzi’s on State Street is a separate entity from the family’s wholesale cheese company, Liuzzi Angeloni in Hamden.