Brands explained / Milan
In 1948, Francesco Armandola opened the doors to his eponymous delicatessen in Milan. Located in via della Spiga, it catered to a clientele eager to forget the lean war years. Since 2005, his son Giorgio has been in charge, and while he’s introduced a website where customers can order online, he adheres to the same philosophy when it comes to selecting the food sold in his shop: provenance and family-run firms first.
Illy makes just one blend of coffee, using Arabica beans picked and roasted to strict parameters. Packaged in pressurised tins to preserve aroma and flavour, its premium espresso is available in 140 countries. Based in Trieste, the family-run business – now in its third generation – has annual sales in excess of €250m.
In 1846, before Italy’s unification, Menabrea came out with its first dark Munich-style beers, made by three brothers in Biella. Today, however, its pale lagers are more popular with local drinkers and 20 export markets. In 1991 the Tyrolean brewer Forst took a controlling stake in the company.
Since 1654 Sardinian fishermen from the town of Carloforte have caught Mediterranean bluefin tuna. Artisanal food union Green Gold manages the label’s canning operations from its facility outside Cagliari. In 2007, over 70,000 tins of tuna, including ventresca (tender belly fillets) were shipped to gourmet stores throughout Italy.
Borgo supplies high-quality foodstuffs such as its artisanal pasta to Italian gourmet shops. Based in the Tuscan town of Prato, it distributes over 400 items ranging from traditionally prepared preserves to balsamic vinegar. Founded by entrepreneur Massimo Pugi in 1999, its 2007 revenues topped €2m.
05- Parma ham
Based in the town of Mulazzano Ponte, Sant’Ilario is a producer of Parma ham. Each year, owner Piero Montali and his two sons ship 80,000 pig thighs to butchers. Ilario’s hams are seasoned only with salt and air-cured for 24 months, twice the minimum required for coveted DOP status by the Parma Ham Consortium.
06- Olive oil
In business for seven generations, Biondi Santi is a maker of extra virgin olive oil. Frantoiano, Correggiolo and Montalcinese olives from Santi’s 75 acres are handpicked, stone crushed and then cold pressed – the oil is not filtered so it retains more flavour. Packaged in standard wine bottles, annual production is limited to 3,000 units.
Fourth-generation vintner Angelo Gaja runs a 250-acre estate in Barbaresco. Considered a pioneer in Italy’s Piedmont region, he ages his wine in French barriques and promotes single vineyard labels such as his Sorì Tildìn. Annual output – he now owns vineyards in Maremma producing Super Tuscans – exceeds 800,000 bottles.
08- Mineral water
Sourced from springs at the base of the Dolomites, which emerge at 22C, S Pellegrino mineral water was commercialised in 1899. Today, the company, which owns several Italian bottled water labels, is part of the Swiss Nestlé Waters. S Pellegrino sells over half a billion bottles annually in 110 countries.