New market offers a taste of Italy in Milford

MILFORD — Danilo Mongillo has expanded his effort to bring an Italian flavor to the city.

The owner and executive chef at Strega Restaurant has now opened Strega Italian Market, where he says the variety of available products are all imported from his native country.

“This market will represent Italy from the north to the south,” said Mongillo, who hosted the grand opening of his market, located at 3 River St., on Wednesday. “Gorgonzola is from Lombardy, so Milan. The olive oil is from Sicily. Bonfano mozzarella is from Naples.”

The market also offers numerous styles of pasta from across Italy.

Despite the regional differences, Mongillo said his market aims to be inclusive.

“We are Italians,” he added. “We want to represent Italy.”

Strega Market is a natural progression from Strega Restaurant, located a few doors from the market.

“We opened Strega Restaurant one year ago,” he said. “We had seen this spot was empty for a long time, so I reached out to the owners of this spot and told them the idea of having an authentic Italian market in the spot, and they liked the idea.”

Besides being a market, the plan for Mongillo is to have simple sandwiches and soups available for people who want to have a quick meal.

Working in a market is not new to Mongillo who used to work in his parents’ butcher shop.

“Meats and cheeses are my things and also serving customers,” he said.

Growing up in Italy, Mongillo also spent time working as a police officer for the Ministry of Agriculture.

“I did that for 10 years,” he said. “We would check the quality on the label of the import and exports. When the wine is DOP (Demonizariole Di Origine Protetta, which means Protected Designation of Origin), we would be the ones who would certify that.”

Mongillo came to Connecticut in 2014, and in 2016 he opened Strega in Branford. That location closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But in 2021, he once again opened Strega, but this time in Milford.

“The people at the restaurant used to ask us where they could find the olive oil or the sauce we would use, but they couldn’t find it anywhere until now,” he said. “Basically, whatever is in this market is the main ingredients we use in the main restaurant, so it’s 100 percent connected.”