Jimmy's Italian Specialties brings Old World wine and food to the Valley

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

If You Go:

What: The Italian Wine and Food Experience

Where: Jimmy’s Italian Specialties, 3130 Belmont Ave., Liberty

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 30

Tickets: Make your reservation in person at the store or online at www.myvalleyvino.com.

By Brian Fry

myvalleyvino.com

The pairing of wine and food is one of the world’s oldest traditions, and no country embraces the tradition more than Italy. In fact, it is so ingrained into the culture that most people don’t even think about it.

In the old country, people would walk into their village and purchase some cheese, meat and baked goods from a local shop each day. When the family gathered that evening, there would typically be a table filled with the day’s purchases, whatever was pulled from the family garden and, of course, some wine to wash it all down.

One local store has captured the allure of this Italian family tradition. Jimmy’s Italian Specialties has been serving the local community since 1974, offering an incredible selection of Italian cheeses, meats, pastries and other delights.

Frank Occhibove opened the original location, keeping Italian tradition alive for the local immigrant community and introducing it to a lot of non-Italians along the way.

“They came over from Caserta, Italy, which is outside of Naples. It’s the classic American dream story. They came to the country with nothing and started a business selling giftware and Italian ceramics out of a garage on West Federal Street, downtown.”

“One day, my dad was baking some bread for himself when a customer came in to pick up a gift. He smelled the bread and said, “Hey, Jimmy, I want one of those.” Well, one loaf turned into two, then three, and the rest is history.”

Jimmy’s has flourished since those humble beginnings. The family recently built a beautiful new store on Belmont Avenue, which is one of our Valley’s must-visit places to shop and dine.

Frank has decided to take the next natural step of offering in-store wine and food tastings. The store will host its first event at 6 p.m. Sept. 30. It’s a new venture based firmly in the old Italian traditions he grew up with.

“The relationship between wine and food in our family is just like one hand washes the other. It just comes naturally to our family. There is no meal in our family without wine.

“We all grew up making our own wine. As the store got busier we had less time, so we started tasting wines to find some that suited us. The Castello Banfi Chianti Classico was soon adopted as our family’s house wine.”

The event will feature six wines, each paired with a meat, cheese or pastry. All of the wines are Italian, and there is a great variety of sweet, medium bodied and dry wines in the lineup. Several of Italy’s most prominent wine regions are represented in the tasting, all of which are regularly available in the store’s wine section.

“I think we have a nice wine selection, which is Italian-focused. We have some of the old favorites, but we try to offer things that most stores don’t carry. We try to focus on more boutique wines that pair up well with the food we have in the store.”

Here’s a look at a few of the wines being featured at the event:

Chiarle Moscato di Asti

Delightfully sweet and effervescent with orchard and tropical fruit flavors.

Castello Banfi Centine White Blend

A unique blend of several Old World white varietals seamlessly integrated.

Italo Cescon Cabernet

Flavors of baked red fruits with notes of tobacco, anise and black pepper.

Castello Banfi Chianti Classico

Quintessential Italian table wine with great balance and medium body.