Much-needed grocery store opens in Little Italy

Residents of Little Italy will soon have a new spot to get their groceries, have a bite to eat, and even enjoy a glass of wine while they browse the aisles. 

Tony Zacconi of Sala San Marco on Preston Street has turned one of his banquet halls into a place that will serve his community, in more ways than one. Pivoting from hosting events, which couldn’t happen due to COVID, to giving the area a much-needed grocery store he calls Mercato Zacconi.

"I had to pivot, this is what I came up with," says Zacconi. "What Preston Street was missing was a grocery store. A really good, really fresh produce, grocery store."

Residents will be able to enjoy everything from fresh wood-oven pizza, to things normally sold only in Italy.

"It's all specialties Italian stuff," says Zacconi. "High-end produce. High-end fish. Very fresh, locally sourced meats and butchery."

Preston Street has sometimes been described as a food desert. Lindsay Childerhose is the executive director of the local B.I.A. and says she’s happy to see that there’s finally a place to pick up groceries nearby.

"Mercato Zacconi is just going to bring a totally new experience to Preston Street and to Ottawa," says Childerhose. "You know, throughout the pandemic we’ve watched as our small businesses pivot and adapt to the changing times. And Mercato Zacconi is just a shining example of the resiliency of small business."

The area is also surrounded by massive new condo developments, housing thousands of new residents like John Byway who moved to Little Italy in February 2020. He says locals will need a convenient way to get their food, and now they have it.

"With the addition of the new business here, it’s going to have a major impact on people's shopping habits and the need to not have to travel at a distance for groceries," says Byway.

And this isn’t your regular Italian market. With specialty coffee, beer and wine all available for customers, it’s a shopping experience like no other.

"You can sit down, eat, enjoy their company, meet up with some friends," says Zacconi. "And have a glass of wine while you’re doing your shopping."

 Mercato Zacconi will open its doors this Friday at 9 a.m. and run seven days a week.