Italian Markets: Cioffi’s Meat Market and Deli and Bosa Foods
As any good cook knows, getting the right ingredients is half the battle. When the weather turns grim – with no end in sight – staying in for dinner is a very attractive option and having a well-stocked fridge and pantry is key. We load up at two Italian markets, Cioffi’s and Bosa, both welcome reprieves from the ubiquitous and heftily priced Urban Fares and Whole Foods and with a stronger selection of Italian offerings. Bosa has two locations and the bigger of the two has the largest gathering of pasta we’ve seen in the lower mainland with colours, flavours and shapes we didn’t even know existed. When your Mario Batali cookbook specifies a strange varietal you’ve never heard of before, come here. We are fans of Bigoli Nobili, a silky Venetian brand which has been around since the 1400s, that we haven’t seen stocked anywhere else. Bosa boasts an equally impressive collection of olive oils with huge tins for bulk uses and smaller bottles for more precious purposes, as well as a truly spectacular assortment of olives.
A short drive away, but technically in Burnaby, Cioffi’s operates both a deli and a butcher at two locations, separated by just a couple of doors. Here, we stock up on pantry items like San Marzano tomatoes, those grown in the soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius resulting in a sweeter, less acidic and more flavourful tomato sauce, salt packed anchovies, a staple making soulful appearances in pasta dishes and salad dressings adding an inimitable depth of flavour, and Italian tuna packed in olive oil that is so rich you’ll wonder why you ever ate the stuff in tins. There’s also a wide range of cheeses including buratta, the fresh and creamy mozzarella which is a costly indulgence but worth every penny, house-cured deli meats and flavourful sausages as well as Italian desserts like biscotti, amaretti and panettone. But what makes Cioffi’s so special is their army of skilled, old school, white-coated butchers who really know their cuts of meat and supply many restaurants in Vancouver. Try their politically incorrect veal which is unbelievably tender and beautifully marbled. These are the things that sustain us during the interminable Vancouver winters.