Remember that classic South Park episode “Simpsons Already Did It?" Well, Mottola Grocery will soon become the food emporium version of that.
The best breakfast sandwich on a fluffy bun baked that morning with house-smoked bacon and a Nature’s Farm egg? Mottola Grocery does it. Local produce alongside Academy Hospitality’s best sauces, dishes and dressings? Mottola Grocery does it. An Aperol Spritz while you wait for your Berkshire pork ribs to be weighed? Mottola Grocery does it. A $200 Smeg toaster, a $300+ Wagyu ribeye and perhaps a fresh-cut flower arrangement? Yup, they do that, too.
The newest concept from Bobby Mottola's Academy Hospitality (whose portfolio includes Pizzeria Gusto on Academy Road, The Merchant Kitchen in the Alt Hotel, and Gusto North, Yard Burger, The Rose Bar and Good Fight Taco all upstairs at Hargrave Street Market) has an incredible roster of products, making it an all-in-one stop for gourmands looking for just about anything.
In the above video, join Academy Hospitality executive chef Jesse Friesen, as he shows us the butcher counter, the bakery and some of the services you can expect while shopping.
While below, Academy Hospitality director of operations Suzy Afifi – who has curated so many of the shelves – has highlighted for us some of her favourite things that can be found in store, ranging from ‘best of’ dishes for Academy kitchens, to local producers, to internationally acclaimed food companies.
Good to go and housemade marvels
When you first walk into the space, just past the flower arrangements on the left you’ll find the Expedited Market. Here, it’s all about fresh salads like seared tuna niçoise, a classic Caesar with crispy pancetta and a host of sandwiches on freshly baked bread. All the sandwiches feature meats like turkey, prime rib and chicken that come from the kitchen’s rotisserie ovens, while vegan and vegetarian sandwiches are available too.
“You can pair these with juices from Wolseley’s Verde Juice Bar, who are doing drop-offs every morning, while they have also given smoothie recipes to the market’s central café counter,” said Afifi.
At the counter – named Union Café – along with espressos and Americanos, you can also get wine by the glass (6 oz for $10), prosecco and Lambrusco should you be looking for bubbles, beer and an Aperol Spritz if you are so inclined. You can pair these with a large selection of pastries that were baked that morning literally steps away in the bakery, along with salads and sandwiches like that aforementioned beautiful breakfast sandwich.
Across from the café counter on the north wall is where you’ll find plenty of meals and sauces ready to be used at home. There’s wagyu beef chili, chicken parmesan (five pieces for $23, a great deal), Korean fried chicken strips form Merchant Kitchen, flash-frozen pizzas from Gusto North, and so many of the best sauces and condiments from Academy Hospitality. This includes the sweet soy that comes with Merchant’s fried chicken, and that spicy dan dan sauce.
Afifi says the rich brodo is a can’t-miss, which “makes our Brussels sprouts at Gusto so good.” You can also pick up Brussel sprouts to cook at home right beside this station, along with a range of colourful cauliflower, scallions, celeric, bell peppers, artisanal lettuces and more from the well-stocked pantry.
For goods that are not created in house, Afifi has curated a best-of when it comes to Winnipeg and Manitoba food processors. Along with the previously mentioned Verde Juice Bar and Nature’s Farm eggs, the ice cream comes from Chaeban and Fête Ice Cream & Coffee, including an Aperol Spritz ice cream from Fête which has been created specifically for the store.
More local drinks come courtesy of Solbrü, a Winnipeg-based company that uses a reishi mushroom base to make beverages that are meant to be an alcohol drink substitute. You can also buy gorgeous ceramics from which you can plate or pour all these things into from Winnipeg’s lot.ceramics.
For snacks, there are also several local companies whose products are on the shelves too, including Tomahawk Chips.
Being an Italian market, there is of course going to be truffles; one brand that Afifi recommends is TartufLanghe. “We sat down with him at a show twice and their lineup is incredible,” said Afifi. “Their truffle products are insane, particularly the truffle powder – which goes a long way, and these little truffle pearls which you can use like caviar.” You can also find a range of their dried pastas, along with dried pastas from Rummo, whom I am telling you makes the best gluten-free pasta out there.
More luxury imported ingredients come courtesy of José Gourmet, whose tinned seafood is also available for purchase.
From Canadian producers, proud picks include Vancouver-based and Beyoncé-approved Mumgry nut butters, who Afifi said they had to convince to let them carry their products (these spreads are all the rage as the ingredients don’t separate like other nut butters). Right underneath this display you’ll find everyone’s favourite peppers from Toronto’s Terroni, the Peperoncini Piccanti which are highly addictive and normally only available for purchase in their restaurants, along with spices from more noteworthy Canadian restaurants like Joe Beef and Au Pied de Cochon.
For snacks, Afifi says check out Mid-Day Squares - “They just launched in Canada and are blowing up. Their concept is based on having a chocolate bar experience that is low sugar, high protein for that mid-day pick-me-up.” Naked Snacks – “They don’t actually make anything until we put our order in – it’s that fresh.” Living Intentions - “Check out there superfood popcorn, which has spirulina, chlorella, kale and black garlic all in your popcorn, so you are getting added health benefits.”
Beverage-wise, Afifi also says to check out Topo Chico, her favourite flavoured sparkling water, and Daydream sparkling water, which is infused with anti-inflammatory adaptogens.
Pretty much, everywhere you look in this gorgeous new space you’ll find some delicious, unique and either ready-to-eat or readily available to quickly reheat at home.
Mottola Grocery in True North Square opened today (Monday, September 14) to the public. You can shop online here (with next-day delivery available), while the market itself is open Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.