Alesci’s embraces family traditions. If it’s not already apparent by the third generation of brothers who co-manage the deli and grocer, it shimmers to the surface in the stories of old regulars and those who remember Grandpa Frank Alesci. Starting with Frank, and now for more than 50 years, the Alesci family has curated a collection of imported products, providing immigrants with the sought-after goods from across the pond. Beyond that, it’s a place for fresh, crusty bread, pizza, a myriad of cheeses, and deli meats sliced by hand. Inside the 7,000-square-foot location, shelves are lined with everything from polenta to biscotti, olives to olive oil, and peppers who share space with their natural enemy: the tomato.
Steep your brain with flavorful promises of a menu to plot out an early-morning caffeine infusion, mid-day lunch treat, or late night drive-by brainwiring. Phoenix's coffees are brewed fresh from their very own beans, so have a cup of old-school joe to return to the café's roots (up to $1.70), or punch your taste buds with the devil's brew (coffee with a shot of espresso, up to $2.50). Chug their namesake with a cup of Café Phoenix, a mocha made with their signature locally produced chocolate syrup and an extra shot of espresso ($3.60), or hammer your endocrine system with the indulgent excesses of their Stuporball—two kinds of custom-blended coffee, two different chocolate syrup infusions, and an extra shot of espresso (up to $4). Tea lovers get some love at Phoenix, too—premium oolong, white, and select black or green tea varieties are available iced or hot (up to $2.40), while the house-made artisan Chai latte arrives steamed and creamy (up to $3.20). You can also upgrade to larger drinks and pay the difference.
When Frank Cangemi first opened Miles Famers Market in 1971, it was a seasonal, open-air market that only sold fresh fruits and vegetables. Frank would arrive at the Northern Ohio Food Terminal at 3 a.m. every day and proceed to hand select his stock of fresh produce, carefully choosing veggies without bruises and punting overly ripe cantaloupes. This hand selection and attention to detail is something he still does to this day, even though Miles Farmers Market has expanded to a 21,000-square-foot shopping space that also houses a deli, a butcher, and a bakery.
Its cheese department hosts more than 400 varieties of cheese, which complement varietals from a wine section that Wine Spectator hailed as “outstanding.” Its bistro not only makes up quick bites but also full dinners to go. Its staffers help foodies navigate the aisles and are on hand to offer tips that range from how to ripen an unfamiliar fruit to how to successfully wash food in the dishwasher.
Yet, even with all of this, it’s the dedication to having the best produce that really draws in shoppers. For more than 40 years, Miles has fostered partnerships with local produce growers such as Burnham, Spiegelberg, and Rittman Orchards, as well as Ohio Fruit Growers. These alliances allow for a vast selection of organic and local produce that may have been ripening on the vine or stalk seven hours before hitting store shelves.
Mazzulo's proffers enough custom-cut meat, gourmet cheese, and prepared meals to satisfy a whole horde of hungry family members. The shop's traditional sweet italian sausage recipes date back to Sicily of the early 1900s ($3.99 per pound), and other fresh meat options include beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. A spectrum of just-baked breads embrace specially sliced turkey and roast beef with hugs that range in flavor from rye to wheat and italian ($8.99 per pound), while Mazzulo's signature hand-forged pepperoni bread makes it easier to smuggle your favorite meat into a bread-only food club ($4.99 per pound).
Margaret and Phillip Nabors were ahead of the curve in championing natural and organic foods when they opened Mustard Seed Market & Café in 1981. To ensure the integrity of every item stocked on their shelves, the Nabors developed a list of golden standards—nine guidelines that range from a ban on high-fructose corn syrup to selling only cruelty-free cosmetics. This combination of rigor and passion has propelled Mustard Seed for more than 30 years, filling two locations with locally grown produce, fresh-baked vegan cookies, and naturally lean-but-tender beef from certified Piedmontese cattle, which are raised on an all-vegetarian diet free of steroids and antibiotics.
Today, the Nabors' children, Abraham and Gabe, have joined their parents in leading Mustard Seed's team of natural-foods experts—who include everyone from the customer-service associates to the stockers, ensuring that shoppers can find answers to their questions around every corner. The store also educates customers through classes and free lectures on topics such as California wines and what’s going to happen when they run out of letters to name the vitamins.