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The Ravioli Lady

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Gloria Mozzetta despises pasta. She doesn't care for its taste or smell. Pretty scandalous considering her nickname: "The Ravioli Lady of Bloomfield."

The 70-something Mozzetta, who is also a vegetarian, has surrounded herself with her nemeses -- noodles and flesh -- for more than two decades, at Bloomfield's Groceria Italiana. Flanked by a large pasta machine and various meat fillings, Mozzetta hand-rolls up to 300 of the little pasta-pocket buggers every day. She arrives as early as 5:30 a.m. from Shaler, to make something she hates to eat but loves to do.

"Never liked the stuff," says Mozzetta. "I'd make the pasta and the sauce for my husband, then leave the room. That jazz isn't for me."

At first blush, Mozzetta seems like an Italian nona who's been making her centuries-old family recipe for years.

"Oh no," she laughs. "I knew the previous owner, and he said to me, ‘I need a lady to make ravioli.' I told him that I didn't know how. He said, ‘Yes you do -- start tomorrow.'

"That was Oct. 8 -- 24 years ago."

Mozetta, with her hair beauty-parlor perfect and a brooch pinned to her white apron, stands behind her counter in the back of the market. There, she makes almost a dozen varieties of ravioli that include artichoke/gorgonzola, spinach, meat and cheese, roasted red pepper, and mushroom. She gently rolls out the dough, squeezes out filling, then cuts and places the ravioli on pans to be boxed. Some are sold fresh; others are frozen.

"We figure she's made over three million [ravioli]," laughs manager Jim Luvara. "We should put a sign up like McDonald's." Luvara is responsible for hand-crafting Groceria Italiana's sought-after sausages.

His mother, RoseMarie Rossi, bought the market 10 years ago and asked Mozzetta to stay on.

"I came with the building," Mozzetta giggles quietly.

Mozzetta and Rossi, who oversees hot-food preparation in the kitchen downstairs, are joined in the matriarchy by another woman of respectable age. The 80-something baker craves anonymity, but her pastaciotti (lemon-filled "cupcakes"), sfogliatelle and cannoli shells are no secret to sweet-toothed customers.

Mozzetta says she'd like to retire. "She's not allowed," yell two co-workers from across the room.

"She's in the lease," adds Luvara.

 

Groceria Italiana
237 Cedarville St., Bloomfield
412-681-1227

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