There is such a thing as gluten-free beer. And you can buy it at Avanti food market in Water Mill.
“We’ve been focusing on food for people with special diets,” says Mike DeGennaro, who owns the store with his wife, Sandy. “Nearly 60 percent of our produce is organic; we concentrate on gluten-free and vegan products.”
This means customers wanting a vegan lunch—quick—have more to choose from than yet another plate of grilled vegetables. There are black bean burgers, spinach burgers and soba noodles, in addition to the go-to veggie burger or rice salads, all prepared by in-house chef Bob Egan, who has been cooking for nearly 40 years. Despite the premium one must pay for organic products, DeGennaro says many of his customers are willing to do so. So much so, that he’s ready to go 100 percent organic, mostly because he sees so much demand and so few businesses offering it.
The DeGennaros opened the store in April, filling the space emptied by Citarella, which had lost its lease. The food retailer’s departure left what DeGennaro felt was a gaping hole, especially since he owns the liquor store in the same cluster of shops.
Much learning by doing followed, and now the couple believes it’s finding a groove.
A relationship with city-based Fairway Market allows Avanti to buy their products wholesale, so Fairway olive oil, vinegars and condiments are available at the same price as they are on the Fairway shelves. Nearly all the fish is local and the meat is prime, a small cheese section is growing and natural cleaning products share shelf space with other grocery staples like canned tomatoes and spices, including an eclectic selection of small-batch products from Brooklyn, upstate and the region.
The store will be open seven days per week year round from 9:00 a.m to 7:00 p.m.
In the meantime expect attentive service. “We were out of lobsters,” DeGennaro says, “and someone wanted some for dinner. I told them ‘I’ll be at your house at six thirty.’”