Mamma Gemelli came from Naples to America in 1969. Since she spoke broken English, her way of communicating was through her love of food. She built an Italian food empire on the South Shore: including a market, restaurant and catering facility.
“My grandmother passed away about a year ago, and my siblings and I decided the best way to continue her legacy was to open up a gourmet market in another location,” said granddaughter Adriana Schutz, who opened Gemelli Gourmet Market North in Glen Head with the rest of the Gemelli family in November. “She always taught us to go above and beyond for customers, and from the moment they walk in they should feel like family.”
Related Content: That’s Amore: Favorite Long Island Italian Restaurants
Everyone is already getting to know each other on a first-name basis, and at the Glen Head location, it’s even easier because there’s a 20-seat café where meals can be enjoyed in-house. The options range from brick-oven pizzas, sandwiches and chopped salads to signature sushi rolls and even cappuccinos.
Adriana’s mother, Patricia Schutz, heads the kitchen using the same recipes her mother, Mamma Gemelli, taught her. And Adriana’s father, Robert Schutz, has been in the butcher business since he was 10, cutting, grounding and tying all the sausage, burgers, meatballs and roasts on premise.
“I’m the office and catering manager, but I hop back and forth and help my mom cook…My grandmother comes from a long line of restaurant owners back in Italy, so it’s basically in our blood.”
Like in the Babylon location, a large emphasis is placed on catering. The eggplant meatballs, made with oven-roasted baby eggplant, caramelized onions, Romano cheese and a touch of breadcrumbs, have been a huge hit with the North Shore crowd. Mamma Gemelli’s old-fashioned petite meatballs with raisins and pignoli nuts are also attracting an audience because the hints of sweetness linger long after the plate has been cleared.
“It’s funny. It’s coming full circle now, my mom is teaching me how to cook and my grandmother taught her.”
Because at Gemelli’s one thing is certain: the most important ingredient is family.