The Taste: The Italian Market
Oct 13, 2016 09:00AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds
126 Defense Highway, Annapolis // 410-224-1330 // theitalianmarket.com
By Rita Calvert
The Italian immigrant, Raimondo Lubrano, left quite a Napolese culinary legacy for his family in The Italian Market of Annapolis. Born in Naples, Italy, Raymond built a restaurant empire in the United States from hard work, a spick and span attitude (including the condition of his restaurant and kitchen), and a love for all things family. With a larger than life personality, he had a following for his authentic old country food as well as Italian wines. I spoke with Raymond’s wife and now ship captain, Geraldine Lubrano, and his daughter, Laura Lubrano DiBiasi. They shared a favorite recipe from the restaurant below.
How would you describe your business?In keeping with Raymond’s vision, we are a family friendly classic Italian restaurant combined with a specialty market and wine shop.
Is this a family run business?Absolutely! This has always been and will continue to be a family run business. My father passed away in 2013 and everything remains just as it was when he was here. Raymond had a special sense in his love for good food. He could walk by pots on the stove, and just by smelling, determine if salt was needed or if it was cooked just to his liking!
You have a restaurant, food market, wine store, and catering operation. Which is the largest part of your total business?Both Geraldine and Laura exclaimed they are all very busy departments, but often at different times of the year. Our restaurant is always busy especially with the great $5 lunch specials we offer. Business is especially brisk at Christmas with a lot of catered events with a specialty delivery service, which is unusual in this area. The Italian Market has a very busy gift basket business at that time of year. We offer pre-made baskets or a customer can come in and choose some of the specialty Italian items we get in for the holidays. Our Panettone (sold in two sizes), is handmade in Italy, not manufactured by machine on a production line. We import fabulous chocolates, some filled with liqueurs, Torrone, and Pane Forte. Our antipasto is a big seller year round with many items to select in designing your own basket. We work with folks and recommend three cheeses and three meats from a selection of: proscuitto, capricollo, hard sausage (mild and spicy), Genoa salami, and speck (smoked prosciutto). Mixed olives and marinated artichoke hearts are other standards, which round out the antipasto.
What is different about your lasagna to-go? I understand it is excellent!Our homemade marinara and our specialty fresh ricotta imported from New Jersey! The marinara is made in house three to four times per week, not in a pot on the stove, but in a professional steam-jacketed kettle. We sell our lasagna frozen in three sizes: small-serving 2–3, medium-serving 8–10, or the full pan size. If you want to come and pick it up freshly made, just call a few days in advance to order.
Are there any particular Italian items you are especially proud of?We are especially proud of all the items we make in house. First, are our Italian sauces: tomato sauce, marinara, and Arabbiatta, which is spicy.
Our popular fresh mozzarella is made here in our kitchen three to four times a day, especially in the summer when we sell between 40–50 packages daily!
Our Italian bread up front in the wine department is made in our own kitchen.
We also make our own Italian sausages in mild, spicy, and Cervellata (with parsley and cheese and formed in a spiral). Our meatballs are made here as well.
Last but not least, we make our gelato in house with fresh fruits when in season or if not, we use the fruits frozen. Our gelatos are made with whole milk, for the creamy versions and water for the fruit gelato, as they should be. It is the machine that creates the whipped buttery texture.
I recently tasted your Bounty Coconut Gelato. What makes it so deliciously special?Our coconut gelato is reminiscent of the Bounty candy bar. Remember that? We toast the coconut and use dark chocolate for the chunks. These aren’t just chocolate chips! First we melt down the dark chocolate and form it into a large mass. Then we break it up (unevenly) to create chocolate chunks.
Our Hazelnut, Pistachio, and Bacio (chocolate gelato with hazelnut.) are our bestsellers.
You have a very healthy wine business, run by Nat Scott. What is Nat’s background?Wine and market manager, Nat Scott, is a bonafide Sommelier. He trained at the International Sommelier Guild in Washington, D.C. The three levels of the program are extensive and rigorous. Although Nat worked in many French restaurants, he gravitated to the “too many to count” varietals of Italian wine. Our wine business is always good and we help to educate our customers on our many Italian regions of wines. So we have a strong following. We do a wine tasting every Monday evening with 25 percent off all wines not already reduced on that day.
Tell us about your wine dinners.These very popular dinners happen when we get notice from our wine distributor that a particular Italian wine maker can travel here to conduct the dinner and wine pairing. We sell out almost immediately, even before we publish the food items. Nat and Geraldine consult to pair the wines with appropriate foods. Sometimes we will do an additional tasting after the meal with reserve Italian wines.
Linguini PosillipoServes 4
This is a popular dish that we have had in our family for as long as I can remember. The seafood we use is always fresh and the marinara is always homemade. The dish is a good mixture of fresh seafood.
True Italian cooking does not involve precise measurements...just a dash of this and handful of that. These proportions are a loose measurement. Let instinct be your guide!
All seafood is raw and should be cleaned.
- Olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 ounces calamari, cleaned
- 4 ounces bay scallops
- 8 medium shrimp, peeled
- 8 fresh mussels
- 8 baby clams
- Sherry wine
- 12 ounces Marinara Sauce from the Italian Market or a high quality marinara sauce
- 1 pound linguine pasta, cooked
Sauté, the diced garlic in two tablespoons oil over medium-high heat for two minutes or until it just starts to darken. Add the calamari, scallops, shrimp, mussels, and baby clams with a pinch of parsley, salt, and pepper, let cook for 4–5 minutes. Add 1 ounce sherry, cook for another minute or two, and add the Marinara sauce; let cook for 7–8 minutes. Cooking times will vary.
Warm pasta and place on plates. Ladle sauce and seafood over top