For weeks before taking possession of Enzo’s Italian Market Just outside of downtown Matthews, Rania Tigani has spent countless hours in the kitchen learning family recipes passed down through generations.
“I worked side-by-side with Enzo’s mother, an amazing Sicilian woman, who showed me firsthand how to create everything she had perfected over the years,” said Tigani, who bought the specialty shop in May with her husband, Greg. “She had it all in her head and was just looking at the ingredients, so I took meticulous notes to make sure we were able to continue to serve all the products customers have come to know and love. ”
Founded in 2009, Enzo’s is one of the only authentic New York-style Italian markets in the Charlotte area. Original owner Enzo LoRe, born in Sicily, brought all his favorite traditional Italian flavors and house specialties to the Potter Road store and ran the business for 13 years before stepping down this spring to focus on his health.
Tigani, a self-proclaimed “outgoing, super-foodie person” who appreciates all things Italian, was a longtime customer of the shop. “We learned of Enzo’s intention to sell the store, and we knew we had to move on,” said Tigani, whose family has restaurant experience.
The new owners have retained all of the classic staples and homemade sausages the store is famous for, such as the thin Italian pinwheel sausage, the broccoli and porcini sausage, and the sun-dried tomato sausage. They will continue to use top quality products imported directly from Italy.
They also expanded the store’s offerings by adding a new dessert section, pastries, imported gelatos, and specialty items like fresh pasta and bread, including daily baked Italian semolina breads. Additionally, they designed a new logo with a caricature of Enzo’s smiley face to honor him and his connection to the store.
“People have reacted very positively to these changes. It has been a blessing,” Tigani said. “Enzo had the right concept, bringing an Italian market to the Charlotte area. We just took it to another level. It’s a butcher. It’s a bakery. It’s a supermarket. There’s all kinds of stuff straight from New York or Italy, and the majority we make ourselves – it’s hassle-free home cooking for our customers.
About 90% of Enzo’s clientele are from New York or have Italian heritage, Tigani said. “We’ve had people literally get down on their knees and say, ‘Oh my God, I’m home’ or ‘This is a taste of home’, which is personally very rewarding. We have to do something here.
The sausages are top sellers, Tigani said, but people come for a little bit of everything, from fresh chicken cutlets to take-out selections and several varieties of homemade sauces, including Enzo’s own Sunday sauce. The weekly specials run the gamut and don’t last long (a recent penne dish with ricotta, spinach, parmesan, and lemon juice flew off the shelves within hours).
“You’ll take a delicious foodie trip to Italy when you step into Enzo,” longtime customer Karen Phillips told CharlotteFive. “The younger generation running the store has brought vibrancy to the place with new specialty foods.”
Phillips, a loyal Enzo customer for more than a decade, said the Sunday sauce was “spectacularly delicious,” and her other favorites are the cheese ravioli and the cheese manicotti. She added: “My advice is not to leave without buying some of the specialties they have in the dessert section.”
In a Yelp Reviews, Swaz F. of Matthews wrote: “A place like Enzo’s is badly needed here. In Boston, this place wouldn’t be very special because there are so many authentic Italian grocers, especially in the North End. I don’t know of any other Italian grocer in the Matthews-Mint Hill area. I learned to love all the products in this store that you can’t get from the Super Market chain and the price is also reasonable.
These reactions and criticisms are what drive Tigani and the staff on a daily basis.
“We are so grateful to the people who come here and make it our mission to treat everyone like family,” she said. “The positive, energetic vibe is something I’ve worked very hard on, since day one. People get it. When they come to Enzo, they have a complete dining experience.
Location: 4412 Potter Road, Matthews, NC 28104