Head over to Sorrento Italian Market for these hard-to-find Italian imports

Before opening Sorrento Italian Market in 1963, Albert Vera would drive his truck, loaded with salami and other Italian delicacies, throughout Los Angeles. This was long before food trucks were cool. Today, his son Albert Vera Jr. carries on the tradition and continues to deliver high-quality Italian foods to LA.

As you walk into Sorrento Italian Market, you may feel a little overwhelmed. The shelves are loaded with jars and shiny packages that you’ve probably never seen before. Besides Italian imports, you may come across some German preserves and chocolates (Albert’s mom was from Germany). At lunchtime, the store gets pretty packed with people buying sandwiches from the deli counter.

If you want to try new Italian wines, Sorrento Market features wines from every single region of Italy (plus one from tiny San Marino). In case you get lost, ask for Steve. A deep connoisseur of Italian food and wine, he will come to the rescue with his personal recommendations.

RELATED: Discover Calabrian Wines

So, what’s good at Sorrento Italian Market? On a recent visit to the store, we selected our top ten picks. These hard-to-find specialties will have your Italian roommate/boyfriend/coworker scream “Where did you find THAT!”

The owner of Sorrento Italian Market

Albert Vera Jr., owner of Sorrento Italian Market (Photo: Mischa Rajendiran)

The 10 Best Finds from Sorrento Italian Market

  1. Lentil Beer, Mastri Birrai Umbri. Yes, Italy makes craft beers too. As you may know, the region of Umbria, in Central Italy, is big on lentils and other legumes. So they figured they could make beer out of that.
  2. Croxetti Pasta. When you think you’ve seen all possible pasta shapes, then you come across croxetti from Liguria. Also known as corzetti, they are coin-shaped pasta disks.
  3. Lard and Truffle Pate. Due to strict import regulations, Italian pork products are hard to find in the US. And that’s a shame, given that Italians love to turn swines into all sorts of delicacies. Grab this pate while you have the chance!
  4. Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore, Giustino B. There are simply too many wines to pick a favorite. For a special occasion, take this extra-dry Prosecco DOCG home with you. Steve discovered it in Veneto 25 years ago, long before Prosecco became popular, and he still recommends it to his customers.
  5. Olive Oil, Partanna. This is an excellent olive oil from Sicily. You can find it here in different sizes.
  6. “00-type” Flour, Antimo Caputo. If you ever want to try and make pizza at home, this should be on your list. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the organization promoting Neapolitan-style pizza around the world, adopts this brand in its guidelines.
  7. Brutti Ma Boni Cookies, Masoni. Literally, “ugly but good.” These exist several versions of these cookies across italy. Seriously, who cares if they aren’t that pretty?
  8. Pici Pasta, Il Vallino. Pici are a thick, hand rolled pasta, similar to spaghetti. Typical of Tuscany, they are paired with rich, meaty sauces, or a garlic-heavy sauce called aglione.
  9. Panforte Fichi e Noci. Another Tuscan specialty, panforte is a flat cake, made with candied and dried fruit (figs and nuts, in this case) and with spices.
  10. Intorchiate Dolci e Salate, Marella. A savory-and-sweet snack from Puglia. Similar to taralli, if you know what I mean. Just don’t call them pretzels, please.

Of course, this only a selection. We didn’t even mention the fresh ricotta, made locally in the style of Puglia, or the pastries from Eatalian Cafè,. If you have been to Sorrento Italian Market and you think we’re missing out on something, let us know in the comments!


Sorrento Italian Market
5518 Sepulveda Blvd

Culver City, CA 90230
Phone: (310) 391 7654