Livoti’s Old World Market Serves Up Pasta, Gravy and Great Service To Locals

Livoti's Market - Local Market Serving Up Old-World Charm

Livoti’s Market – Local Market Serves Up Old-World Charm

At Livoti’s Old World Market in Aberdeen, New Jersey, I bought some salted mozzarella for my aunt. She’s a first generation Italian-American, so my aunt has standards.

“We’re famous for our handmade hand-stretched mozzarella,” general manager Michael (aka Big Mike) Ali claims. Mike married the daughter of owner John Livoti.

Livoti’s is celebrating its three year anniversary and although it’s smaller than the two big box groceries that share the same half mile stretch of Route 34 in Aberdeen, it strives to match their prices on packaged items.

Livoti's Famous Mozzarella Station

Livoti’s Famous Mozzarella Station

“We’re a specialty market so not competing with them, but we don’t want people to have to go somewhere else to find affordable paper towels,” says Mike, who walks around bantering amiably  with employees and customers and tweaking shelves that already look quite neat. “We straighten everything every night before we close.”

A woman shopping with her husband tells Mike how much she enjoys the store’s Sunday afternoon Italian music concerts. He smiles and offers her a string bean to sample.

“I might not know everyone by name but I recognize most of their faces. We treat them personally and if there’s a problem we take care of it.” A third of its customers are from Matawan/Aberdeen, he notes, a fourth from Marlboro and Morganville, and the rest from towns such as Freehold and Woodbridge in surrounding areas.

Local Customers Love Livoti's and Big Mike

Local Customers Love Livoti’s and Big Mike

“Most are very local–which is great,” Mike says.

The store features a relentless focus on customer service; an abundance of mouth-watering items made fresh daily (95 percent of its takeout) under head chef Hani Qassis; and a full range of Italian staples and delicacies. You can watch Alphonzo at work in the mozzarella station creating salted, smoked and unsalted versions of the beloved cheese.

Yet Livoti’s reaches beyond traditional Italian cuisine to also offer new (gluten free and organic) and more Americanized fare. Although my grandparents may have viewed the chocolate peanut butter cake in the bakery with suspicion, they’d choose the traditional Italian rum cake and pignoli cookies nearby to serve on Christmas. There’s also a coffee bar, fresh seafood market, deli and enough custom-cut meats, poultry and store-made sausage to please any red-blooded carnivore—with a new organic and grass-fed meats case that Mike proudly points out.

Made Fresh Daily! (We know you want to try it!)

Made Fresh Daily! (We know you want to try it!)

Livoti’s donates generously to local sports teams and “as many causes as we can.” It was the only place open after Hurricane Sandy and sold hot takeout at every meal, prompting visits from as far away as Sayreville, Mike says.

“After Sandy was a very busy week,” he says. “We donated more than 2,000 pounds of cooked pasta and sauce to churches in Union Beach.”

The mayor of Sayreville even asked the owner to open a Livoti’s there. There is a new location coming that Mike will only reveal is in Monmouth County.


Livoti’s Fresh Handmade Mozzarella

What’s my aunt’s verdict on the handmade mozzarella, at $7.99 a pound? “Just a taste, I already ate,” then, a minute later, “I’ll try a little more,” then, “You can tell it’s handmade, it has ‘give.’ It’s not too salty. Light. Very good,” finally, “Like your grandmother’s.”

That says it all.


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