The Italian Marketplace: DeVicchio Family Affair

NILES, Ohio – For Bob DeVicchio Jr., family is everything and his customers see that at The Italian Marketplace.

His parents, Nancy Dumont and Bob DeVicchio Sr., work at the store. So do his wife, Pam Allegretto DeVicchio, and their four children, Allie and Anthony Rosati and Nick and Megan DeVicchio. After school, their father hastens to point out.

All three of DeVicchio’s sisters – Tracy Marshall, Toni Ruggles and Tina Osman – are behind the counter as well.

“It’s truly a family-oriented, family-based business. We want you to feel like family when you come in here. And Niles has welcomed that,” DeVicchio said at the grand opening of his store, 1201 Youngstown-Warren Road.

And it’s not just who works at the store, but what they’re making. The marketplace’s all-pork meatballs are made with DeVicchio’s personal recipe that he spent years perfecting. One of his sisters handles all the baking, another all the soups. His mother makes the dough for pizza and pasta. Breading for the store’s fried items follows an old family recipe.

“I come from a big family and we were raised in that traditional way where the men make the sauce and the women make the pasta,” DeVicchio Jr. said. “This is all our family coming together, with my wife’s recipes from her grandmother and my grandparent’s recipes.”

It even flows into the décor. A set of weathered, wooden cabinets that flank the entrances feature decorations that wouldn’t look out of place in any Italian grandparent’s kitchen in the Mahoning Valley. A display in the store is adorned with the hardhat DeVicchio Sr. wore when he was a foreman at Republic Steel Corp. as are antique crates from local delivery companies.

“Our chef Luigi statue has been sitting in my garage for two years waiting for a home. One of my parents’ old wagons is in here,” DeVicchio said. “It’s a bunch of family stuff and you’ll see more of that as the store matures.”

But what most excites this entrepreneur is food. Products made nearby such as pastas, sauces, dressings and other condiments that accompany Italian dishes come from companies such as Gia Russa in Youngstown, Marzetti in Columbus and DeLallo in Jeannette, Pa.

The selection is something that isn’t seen much in that area, points out Sarah Boyarko, vice president of economic development for the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. Most other Italian grocery stores in Trumbull County tend to lie in the southern part of the county.

“Looking around here, there are a lot of great local products to purchase, from Gia Russa brand to local wines. I’m not aware of many other stores like this,” she said.

The Italian Marketplace also features a dining area where customers can sit in for lunch prepared at the deli counter. A full line of subs, paninis, pastas and toppings are available.

“We can’t compete with the bigger stores. We are very much still that small, family Italian specialty store. We wanted our own flair and the hot foods took right off,” DeVicchio said. “If we don’t have something, we’ll try our hardest to get it. We want something that’s just a little bit different with that kind of flair and hometown feeling.”

The store had a soft opening in September after two years of work that converted the space from a restaurant – the former Alberini’s, on the U.S. Route 422 Strip – to a store.

“It’s a unique repurposing of building that wasn’t utilized, so it brings new life to this corridor,” Boyarko said. “Everyone who’s walked in has been surprised to see what this looks like compared to its previous use.”

Customer reaction in the wake of the opening in September was “outstanding,” DeVicchio said. As an example, he looks back to the first week the store opened, when it sold 300 pounds of fried greens.

“That’s a lot. No one’s doing that,” he said. “We put our pizza out for a sampling just to have people try it and wound up selling 50 the first day and 300 the first week. You stick with things that work.”

One of the most important things to DeVicchio is that nothing sold in the store is frozen except items made to be frozen at The Italian Marketplace so customers can take them home.

“Nothing that we cook for our customers will ever be frozen,” he promised. “It’s all made the day it’s sold.”

And that, he said, is just part of the Italian family atmosphere he wants customers to feel a part of.

“The Italian heritage is a little different and special. There’s a way you do things that are just fun,” he said. “We wanted to bring that fun to everyone.”

Pictured: Sarah Boyarko, vice president of economic development, Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber; Mario Nero, senior loan officer, Mahoning Valley Economic Development Corp.; Dan Polivka, Trumbull County commissioner; Ralph Infante, Niles mayor; Pam Allegretto-DeVicchio, co-owner; Allie Rosati, assistant manager; Cheech Allegreto; Bob DeVicchio, co-owner; Rocco Rosati; Mauro Cantalamesssa, Trumbull County commissioner; Frank Fuda, Trumbull County commissioner; and Maurice Gurino, Niles safety director.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.