Making fresh pasta is a dying art, but A. Mercurio Sons at 363 Mamaroneck Avenue has managed to keep it alive for 40 years.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Making fresh pasta is a dying art, but A. Mercurio Sons at 363 Mamaroneck Avenue has managed to keep it alive for 40 years. “We’ve stayed in business all these years through word of mouth. It’s the best advertisement,” said co-owner Gregory Mercurio.
Loyal customers know that Mercurio and his partner John Carraca, along with their right-hand man Leo Morales, make all the outstanding pasta and Italian-American gourmet foods themselves, using only fresh ingredients. On any given day, customers can stroll in and see them rolling their silky smooth pasta, trimming their own meat, and stirring their own sauces. They also make delicious fresh mozzarella daily.
“It’s so good because we start with the best curd money can buy,” said Mercurio. “For our pastas, we use our own combination of the best flour, fresh eggs, and semolina. And as far as our sauce, we sweeten it naturally without ever adding sugar.”
Although he wouldn’t divulge how exactly the authentic tomato sauce is sweetened, he did share his family’s original cream sauce recipe (below). It was his father Danny and his uncles Vito and Ignatius, who first opened A. Mercurio Sons across the street from the present location. Each had his own food business beforehand but the brothers made the decision to consolidate under one roof in 1971. They named the pasta shop/deli after their father, Andrew.
By all accounts, Andrew Mercurio was a visionary. “Back in 1940, my grandfather knew prepared foods would be a hit,” explained his grandson. “He came from Italy with nothing, built his house, and started a food business. He imported ingredients from Italy and made the pasta from scratch using my grandmother Anna’s recipe. He was ahead of his time.”
In 1977, Mercurio, who had worked in the store for years, joined his father and his father’s partner at the time, John Cioffoletti in opening the present location.
“We needed more room, so we could expand our line of pastas to include all different kinds of ravioli, as well as sauces and soups,” he explained. They stayed in Mamaroneck because of its convenient location and proximity to Rye, New Rochelle, and White Plains.
Gregory Mercurio took a hiatus for a time to pursue another passion he shared with his dad, horseracing. As a matter of fact, he has been a harness horserace driver since he was 16. To this day, he drives a sulky, the two-wheeled cart pulled by his horse Cheyenne Brian and regularly races at Freehold Raceway in New Jersey.
When he’s not in the sulky, however, Mercurio’s racing to Mamaroneck to keep up with his customers’ demand for prepared foods, just as his granddad predicted all those years ago. “People are doing much less cooking these days. They don’t want to have to think about it,” he said. “Today, we offer more types of pasta than ever, but we have never changed the way we make it.”
Among the fresh pasta in the house are: white, spinach, or whole-wheat noodles; angel hair; egg or ricotta cavatelli; potato gnocchi; and basil fettuccine. Filled pasta selections include cheese, spinach, roasted pepper, pumpkin, mushroom, or lobster ravioli; manicotti; beef-filled cannelloni or stuffed shells; and a variety of tortellini.
A tremendous selection of prepared foods is available for catering or may be picked up, fresh or frozen, for dinner in 1-, 2- and 5-pound trays. Among the offerings are: lasagna; ziti with vodka or primavera sauce; stuffed shells; meatballs; veal and peppers; chicken marsala; filet of sole; and shrimp parmigiana to name a few. All trays come with foolproof heating instructions, too.
Special orders that have become patrons’ favorites include: mozzarella and roasted peppers; cavatelli and broccoli rabe; cheese tortellini and pesto; and spinach portobello ravioli. A. Mercurio Sons also offers just about any sauce, from pesto to clam to Bolognese, and an array of soups, including minestrone, pasta fagioli, lentil, chicken noodle, and split pea. All that and salads, cheese, and the best garlic bread in Westchester, too.
A. Mercurio Sons is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m.–6 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
Mr. Mercurio’s Cream Sauce
4 oz. butter
4 oz. olive oil
1 egg yolk
½ pt. heavy cream
1 t. fresh chopped parsley
1 t. grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter with oil over low heat and add parsley. In a bowl, add the beaten egg yolk into the cream, making sure it’s well blended. Slowly add cream mixture to the butter and oil, stirring constantly. Cook until well heated. Add fresh grated cheese and blend, keeping sauce smooth. Pour over a pound or less of cooked pasta. Mercurio’s chicken and prosciutto tortellini recommended.