Drogheria Fine, a tiny, tasty-smelling Italian store, is the pride and joy of its owner, Franco Gattuso who opened up the shop 18 months ago.
The second you walk in, the scrumptious aroma of tomatoes, caramelized onion and garlic welcomes you into the 300 square foot store
filled with mason jars of tomato sauce and Italian olive oil which he bottles in recycled glass jars. The olive oil is nothing but the best, and imported from Oliveto in the Calabria region, a small village where Gattuso’s mother was born. The tomato sauce labeled as “La Salsa Della Nonna,” which translates to “Grandmother’s Sauce,” is Gattuso’s homemade concoction are what he built his business around. He also offers canned goods containing the mouth-watering sauce with gnocchi, a soft, thick dumpling.
Before opening up Drogheria, Gattuso had worked in the restoration industry for more than 15 years, but decided to leave the field because of all the new rules and regulations that were being implemented. That is when he remembered the idea for Drogheria Fine, one he had put on hold for years.
“It all started with a trip to Italy, to the town where my mother was born,” said Gattuso. “All of a sudden, I remembered that I had already planned something that I could now do. Everything was already done, even the labels had already been designed.”
Although selling his products was not always easy, Gattuso always knew that his store would be a success.
“I always believed in this product. At first, it was difficult, because we were selling one pot at a time. Now though, people know who we are, and, because of its classic recipe, it has everything it needs to succeed,” Gattuso said.
The products found at Drogheria Fine are all cooked and canned on the spot. The tomatoes are imported from Italy, but the sauce is made in the store. Gattuso was proud to say that he was not afraid of sharing the ingredients he uses for the sauce. With no preservatives or artificial flavours, Gattuso simply uses tomato pulp, olive oil, caramelized onions and garlic, fresh basil, and sea salt. The sauce is good for up to one year if it is kept unopened and in the pantry, but only six weeks once it’s used.
Gattuso’s products are of excellent quality, but do not cost that much more than similar products that you would buy at a grocery store. He sells one litre of his homemade tomato sauce at $10, imported olive oils at $15, and does custom orders as well.
After my visit to the store, I just had to bring home some sauce and try it for myself. I was not disappointed. Gattuso’s sauce turns a mediocre meal into something divine. The ingredients may seem simple, but the sauce is nothing but ordinary and is definitely worth a trip to the Plateau.
In the near future, Gattuso hopes to open a second store, which will sell both his canned goods as well as products like fresh pasta that will compliment his merchandise.
“I am really confident right now, and I think that we can take the next step, which would be to open a second store,” Gattuso said. “The goal is for my products to be sold in grocery stores.”
Gattuso’s Salsa Della Nonna products are also available at many stores, such as Fromagerie Hamel, La Boucherie du Marché, La Boucherie Chez Vito, Marché du Village, La Baie des Fromages, and le Marché Soupson.
Drogheria Fine is located on 68 Fairmount St. W.