If this title sounds familiar, it is because it is a play on the very first "Reflection" on this website. In this case Oz comes to Santa Monica, Ca. in the form of Guidi Marcello, an Italian wholesale and retail Italian food and wine importer.
For those who do not know this iconic small (packed) store on 10th Street in Santa Monica (accessible only on the north side of Olympic), visiting this mecca of Italian goodies and wine is like taking a trip to Italy without the hassle or expense of air travel.
This longtime family run establishment which in addition to supplying many local Italian restaurants and food purveyors, offers this retail outlet that makes every patron feel a part of their family from the very first purchase. I have been a customer for many years now, and every time I go there, I feel like I am visiting friends and family. From the moment you step into this quasi industrial space, you are treated as a guest in their home. The owner, Marco, took over the business from his father Marcello Guidi many years ago, and Marco's daughter, Gessica, is the heir apparent. Not only do they know everything you can imagine to ask about what they sell and recommend, but so do their employees.
Everyone has time to help you select the perfect salumi (Italian cured meats), Italian cheeses, Italian condiments, vinegars and oils, freshly made or dried pasta, homemade pizza dough, homemade bread, Italian wine etc. etc. etc....you get the idea-but for me the enjoyment is not just in the extraordinary quality food imported from Italy that they carry that you cannot find anywhere else, but it is equally in the fun of browsing, and "shmoozing"-Italian style with everyone there.
I went there today to purchase some salumi and cheese items for a Thanksgiving appetizer platter (I know, I know-this isn't traditional Thanksgiving fare-but who can resist?!) and left there, as always, with more than I needed because I just couldn't resist. In the process, I checked in with Marco to discuss our respective Thanksgiving plans and with Gessica to catch up, and had a lovely nostalgic conversation with Roberta, one of their staff members who is from Bologna, where I taught twice for 5 months. I also said "hi" to Elizabeth, a long time staff member who has helped me many times in the past.
So, though geographically Guidi Marcello is located in Santa Monica, California, every time I visit, for the time I spend shopping there, it is as though I am transported to the land of Oz (aka Italy).