It was vacation. A mother-and-daughter trip, to be precise, to her families’ roots in Italy is where Lisa Ihne of East Patchogue became inspired to open an Italian specialty food store in Bellport Village.
She just didn’t know it yet.
It was only after arriving home that she started to think about recreating that charm of the Old Country here on eastern Long Island.
“I just wanted to celebrate my Italian roots and bring some good products from there to Bellport, which somewhat reminds me of those small towns in Italy,” she said.
Ihne opened her Casa di Palma on Main Street on July 4. “The residents seemed to really like the concept,” she said. “I hope that continues.”
It’s still a work in progress, but she is open, offering olive oils, infused oils, balsamic vinegars, truffle honey, glazes, hot peppers, sauces, dry pastas and more.
She’ll be selling hard cheeses, as well as fresh bread from the Bronx on Saturdays and Sundays.
She is expecting to be serving up espresso drinks for sit-down soon.
The Patchogue-Medford High School graduate and now principal in the Sayville School District was helping a customer on Friday in Bellport when we was learning about her new store.
Shopper Camilla Toniolo of Bellport is a native of Italy — born in Milan — who happens to conduct cooking classes here in the village.
She remarked that she could get some of her ingredients now at Casa di Palma.
“My motto is use good ingredients, and you’ll be half way to a good meal,” she said. “So I’m very happy about the opening of this little place — well, not so little.”
(By the way, anyone interested in cooking classes can email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Italian shop opened in the prior Bellport Liquors space at 129 South Country Road. The liquor store has since moved one storefront to the west, in the former Gallery 125 space.
You’ll also be able to find non-food products at Casa di Palma, which is a homage to a family name of Ihne’s back in Italy. Those items include small mosaics and even a skin care line.
“I like to order from those little mom-and-pop shops in Italy,” she said. “I think their products are unique and I like to support those types of businesses.”
And finding such products involves research.
Which also means a good excuse to go back to Italy.
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