True Taste of Italy at Lake Norman

December 11th, 2009

by Joyce Deaton

Walk into Derado’s Italian Gourmet Market at Magnolia Estates Drive and Jetton Road, and you’d swear you’re in an outdoor market in Tuscany. With its stucco walls, exposed brick and awnings, Derado’s brings a true taste of Italy to the Lake Norman area.

Owner and chef John DeSieno Jr. opened the market a few months ago after operating a catering business for more than a dozen years in Watervliet, N.Y. His mother, Antoinette DeSieno, moved to Lake Norman two years ago and called John saying she couldn’t find any of her favorite Italian foods and products. Coming from a large family involved in the food business for generations, she was disturbed.

We called a family conference with all my uncles and aunts, and decided that I would bring our authentic Italian products to Mom and to the good people of North Carolina,” says John. He opened the shop a few months ago and decided to name it for his grandparents. “Without them, we wouldn’t have any of the recipes,” he explains.

Today Antoinette happily extends a warm Italian welcome to customers while John, a culinary school graduate and member of the American Culinary Federation, does most of the cooking. “Nobody prepares food except my mom and me,” he says. “We use our family recipes and sauces and other authentic ingredients brought down by some friends in New York who own a trucking company.”

The result is tasty, homemade food in an ambience of abundance. “Mangia, Mangia!” says their motto on the wall. (“Eat, Eat!”) Using a rotating menu, Derado’s offers breakfast, lunch and dinner, sandwiches, pizza, soups, salads and desserts, along with Italian bread, pizza dough and sub rolls, freshly prepared each morning. Breakfast specialties like fried dough rolled in confectioner’s sugar and egg sandwiches with peppers and onions on fresh Italian bread already are making Sundays Derado’s busiest day.

Especially for boaters, Derado’s offers everything packaged to go with all sauces, cheeses, breads, salads and utensils. Deli items are available by the pound, sandwiches can be packed in freezer bags for travel, and you can even buy a cooler there if you forgot yours.

Lunch and dinner feature entrees such as eggplant parmesan, cavatelli with meatballs, lasagna, tomato crostini with Fontina cheese, and Italian mac and cheese for the kids. Deli sandwiches, “piled high and deep,” are served on homemade sub rolls or Italian bread. Favorites include the Market House and Abbudennza, combinations of Italian meats and cheeses, chicken parmesan, and Grandma Derado’s famous meatballs with mozzarella and homemade tomato sauce. Giardiniera, a blend of carrots, cauliflower, celery and pepper in vinegar, makes a good side, and there’s also stuffed bread, fruits and a full line of Italian meats, fresh mozzarella, salads, cheeses, pepperoni sticks and other deli items.

Derado’s pizzas feature their own sauces and fresh-baked dough. And desserts include their signature Charlotte Mousse de Cioccolata, pizzelles, biscotti and deli cheesecake, plus a variety of cordials – small but incredibly rich desserts that are “to die for,” says John. “These are great after dinner with a glass of red wine. They’re shaped like bowls, filled with tiramisu, amaretto, coffee or other flavors. Our customers are really loving these.” There’s also Villa Dolce gelato, for which Derado’s is the only East Coast outlet.

You’ll also find a complete line of Italian grocery items including Casa Visco gourmet sauces and Pastosa flash-frozen pasta shipped from Brooklyn, dips, salsa and dressings. International coffees and waters are available now, and Derado’s will soon have a license to sell wines from Bully Hill Vineyard in upstate New York. Unique Italian gift and kitchen items make it fun to shop, though you’re likely to get hungry from the hearty aromas emanating from the kitchen. Go ahead, eat! “If you give us a try, we know you’ll be back,” says John. “You’ve never had food like this before.”