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How to Construct a Crostini

The word ‘crostini’ translates to ‘little crusts’ in Italian, but don’t let the name deceive you. With the crispiness of a cracker and the weight of bread, crostini make the perfect base for piling on your favorite toppings. Trust us, crostini can hold a lot! Find all of these items in our store and make G.B. Russo your one-stop shop for your crostini party.

 Before you start layering your toppings, here are a few tips to step up your crostini game.

  • Choose a loaf of bread that is crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. We recommend our Italian loaf, made fresh in-store. It’s simple with a flaky crust and a soft, billowy inside. Perfect to hold meats, cheeses, and other additions without being too dense.
  • When you cut your bread, use a serrated knife. It will help cut through the crust without ruining the inside.
  • To make the perfect crostini, cover both sides of the sliced bread with butter and put in a pan over medium heat. Flip when one side gets nice and toasty without burning. This will help keep the bread from getting soggy and breaking mid-bite.

Toppings: The good stuff

For our crostini garnishes, we go for maximum flavor to make your taste buds dance. Try these combinations to really get the flavor party started:

  • Start with your favorite soft cheese as a base for your crostini. We suggest seasoned ricotta, garlic & herb goat cheese, fontina, or tallegio. All these varieties add the perfect balance for what comes next.
  • After cheese, comes the meat. Delicately thin slices make it easy to layer without overpowering the rest of the crostini components. There are a variety of flavors that can complement your cheese selection. We recommend black forest ham, hot coppa (pork), soft and salty prosciutto di parma, or our homemade wine and cheese sausage.
  • The grand finale is your topper. There are lots of options when it comes to your topper, but we are all for a veggie. Fresh bruschetta, chopped peppadew, roasted garlic, or marinated artichoke. For a vegetarian version skip the meat and pile on more veggies and sprinkle with freshly chopped basil or flat leaf parsley.

All of the items above are compatible; so let your palate decide. Try one of our flavor combinations, or pick up something else from our store to make your perfect crostini!

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Straight from the Russo’s: Our favorite dessert wines

Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 every year, but sharing and enjoying a delicious bottle of wine can – and should – happen all year round. We carry lots of options to keep things sweet for dessert or anytime you’re craving something different than your ordinary go-to wine varieties. Below are some of our favorite picks for wines to accompany dessert at the end of a meal. Or, just let the bottle be dessert!

 

RED

Pedro Ximenez 1983 Gran Reserva Bodegas T Albala

Stored in oak barrels, this red wine is aged to perfection. The vintage has a rich mahogany color which plays well with the flavors of roasted coffee, dark chocolate, and smoke. A dense red, you’re left with notes of spice and caramel that linger, leaving you with a sweet bite in the after-taste.

 

Six Grapes Graham’s Reserve Porto

Fruit with chocolate is a dessert that will never go out of style. This wine will pair perfectly with an aroma of fruits including plums and cherries mixed with chocolate notes. It’s full-bodied and complex but leaves a satiny, long finish on your palette. If stored in a cool, dark place the wine should stay fresh up to two months, giving you more time to enjoy!

 

Trentadue Chocolate Amore red dessert wine

This is decadence at its best. Produced from Merlot grapes, neutral grape spirits are added to stop fermentation. This act blocks a percentage of sugar in the wine from escaping. When the wine is finished aging, a small amount of natural chocolate extract is infused. The chocolate flavor is exceptional with a simple vanilla bean ice cream.

 

WHITE

Hores de Climens Barsac 2010 grand vin de sauternes

If you love desserts with a hint of honey, don’t pass up this wine. The palate is layered with honeysuckle, apricots, and grape. A French Bordeaux wine with great maturity, you’ll love the delicate but strong nature of this vintage.

 

Petit Guiraud 2011 Sauternes

Peach cobblers and pies are great all year round but especially when they are in season. Get a head start on testing your peach wine pairing with this wine. A forward and open taste that combines the flavors white peach, apricots, toasted almonds, and piecrust, you’ll notice a slight hint of freshness and sweetness. The finish is creamy, with the slightest trace of ginger to add a little zing to your taste buds.

 

Chateau La Tour Blanche 2010 sauternes

Take a trip somewhere warm and exotic without leaving the comfort of your home with this sauternes wine. Enjoy aromas of kiwi, apricots, and minerals work surprisingly well with a smoky palate that includes orange marmalade, ripe citrus, and saffron. Even if it’s cold outside, let your mind drift to a sunny beach.

 

ICE

Ice wines are dessert wines are made by freezing the grapes while they’re still on the vine. The sugars don’t freeze but the water does, creating a more concentrated grape that makes for a very sweet wine.

 

Frost Bitten Ice Riesling

Cookie fanatics will love this wine. Combining the flavors of vanilla and butter cookies, you’ll feel indulgent without a high price tag. You’ll also note honey and peach tea that softly settle on your tongue as a gentle reminder of this smooth wine.

 

Black Star Farms Sirius Cherry Dessert Wine

Nothing screams ‘Michigan’ like a cherry dessert wine from a Traverse City winery! Black sweet cherries strengthened with Black Star Farms cherry brandy and sweetened with a tart cherry juice. Barrel-aged for nine months to get a slight toasted oak mixed with the warmth of brandy. The ultimate wine for cherry lovers!

 

Chateau Chantal Ice

Incredibly sweet and delicate like a traditional Riesling wine, but provides a balanced of flavors of apricot, toasted caramel, and baked apple to delight the palate. For political junkies, this wine was served at the 2016 White House Canadian State Dinner for the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau!

Source: Detroit Free Press

 

42 Ice Wine – Sweet White Wine made with frozen grapes from Michigan’s 42nd parallel

This sweet wine is made from grapes frozen at Michigan’s 42nd parallel. A wine that is best enjoyed by sipping, you’ll pull flavor notes of peaches, mango, apricots, honey, and raisins with the slightest hint of violets. The sweetness of the fruit marries nicely with the sweetness of the ice wine without being overpowering.

 

Bowers Harbor Vineyard Ice Cider

Think outside the box with this sweet ice cider. Using the same technique as traditional ice wines, frozen apples are pressed to create this sweet treat. This sweet and slightly tangy ice cider is made with Michigan apples, and best paired with any apple-based dessert. The perfect gift for an out-of-town guest or to keep all for yourself!

 

SPARKLING SPIRITS

Rosa Regale Banfi Sparkling Red

The luscious scent of rose petals meets the delicate flavors of raspberries and strawberries. This sparking red is a great alternative to champagne, there are less bubbles to tickle your nose but you still get to enjoy some bubbles for a special occasion or a special treat on an ordinary day.

 

Codorniu Anna Blanc de Blancs

Enjoy the tastes of apple pie without using up your manpower on homemade dough. You’ll quickly find a nutty personality that goes well with the flavor of apple. Top it off with a finish of clove and nutmeg. This is a dry drink but if soft and smooth, due to its composition being 70% Chardonnay.

 

Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut Cava Seleccion

Sparkling wine with a clean palate of ripe pear, apple, and citrus that flow into a long, smooth finish. You’ll notice a touch of ginger in its finish to bring a little more excitement to the experience. It’s extremely versatile and can be easily paired with any dessert.

 

J.P. Chenet Ice Edition

Small, delicate bubbles fill your glass of this lovely drink. Your nose will fill with the scent of white flowers, citrus, and tropical fruits. An energetic palate with classically smooth creamy makes a refreshing delight that’s ideal for summertime, or anytime!

 

VIN SANTO

Belcaro Vin Santo Del Chianti Classico 2008

This Belcar Vin Santo has an amber color that will make your mouth water and warm your heart. Delicate notes of honey dance with a hint of almond, tied together by the slightest touch of spice. Perfect with a carefully cultivated cheese board with a mixture of nuts, fruits, and cheeses.

 

A.D. MDX Vin Santo Lanciola 2008

Luxuriously gold in color, complex notes of dried apricots blend with acacia honey and orange peel. A bouquet of yellow flowers enhances this dessert wine. Sit back and relax while you enjoy the aftertaste of candied fruit.

 

Fattoria Il Lago

Deeply intense in color with a dark yellow base and amber undertones, the aromas are equally intense with honey and dried fruits. Somehow this dessert wine is both complex and delicate at the same time. The finish is nutty and has a long-lasting taste. Best served slightly chilled.

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How to Make Your Popcorn Really Pop

It’s National Snack Month, and we’re celebrating with one of our favorite snacks – popcorn! It’s easy to make, fun to share, and even easier to eat. Popcorn is just about the perfect snack. Try out one (or all) of our popcorn accoutrements to make your snack time extraordinary, all available at G.B. Russo’s.

 

Parmesan Garlic

You may have had cheesy popcorn before, but I bet it’s never been this good! The trick is to combine melted butter and garlic powder together and drizzle over freshly made popcorn. Next shave Parmesan cheese and sprinkle freshly ground pepper on your popcorn. To shave cheese like a pro, we recommend using an OXO Cheese Grater because it’s easy to use and easy to clean. This combination creates cheesy garlicky popcorn that will quickly become your go-to favorite.

 

Red Curry Coconut

Culinary daredevils will love this! Combine red curry paste with melted butter and a dash of paprika. The curry paste promises a unique flavor that will take your average popcorn to exotic new heights. Top it off with toasted coconut flakes to balance the heat and cool things down while providing a nice crunch.

 

 

Chocolate and Dried Cranberries

It’s hard to resist a sweet and salty mixture, so don’t! After popping, place the popcorn on a baking tray lined with wax paper. Using a double boiler, melt semi-sweet chocolate and lightly drizzle over the popcorn. To stir the chocolate so it doesn’t burn, we love the spatulas from Zyliss because they’re durable and come in a variety of colors. Let the chocolate set if you can! There’s nothing wrong with chocolate-covered fingers. This becomes the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day by adding some of G.B. Russo’s dried cranberries.

 

Sriracha

We love to kick things into high gear when it comes to exciting snacks. With the right amount, sriracha sauce gives the slightest hint of heat without overpowering the other flavors. Melt sriracha and butter together and layer over the popcorn. Need one more punch of flavor? Top it off with sriracha straight from the bottle.

 

 

Plain

If you’re a purist, you probably love simple popcorn with a touch of sea salt. We might not be able to twist your arm to try some of the more unusual flavors but we encourage you to try a few of our add-ons. You can find a variety dried fruits and nuts in-store to make your everyday plain popcorn a little more adventurous.

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G.B. Charcuterie Board

Everybody loves a charcuterie board. What’s not to love? Meats, cheeses and breads presented for you to share with your favorite people. The most important part of a charcuterie board (besides quality, of course!) is variety. Stick with tradition or get creative with some unexpected items. Whether you’re planning ahead for a gathering, or have friends and family stop in unannounced, we’ve got you covered. Here are some G.B. Russo brand favorites to make the ultimate charcuterie board.

 

Meat

The key to the perfect meat selection: slice thin!

Meat is often heavy, so thin slices keep things light and help make the perfect ratio to pair with other items on your board. We recommend Black Forest Ham, Prosciutto di Parma, Casatorie, Coppa, Old Forest Salami, and Salami Toscano.

 

Cheese

The key to the perfect cheese selection: texture!

Cheese comes in all different shapes, sizes, tastes, and smells. But, the trick to taking your cheese selection to the next level is providing a variety of textures. It will enhance the flavor combinations and will make your tastebuds sing. We recommend Port Salut, Cheddar with Porter, Danish Blue Cheese, Cotswalt, fresh Mozzarella, and Morbier.

Bread

The key to the perfect bread selection: Keep it simple!

It’s important to keep the integrity of the board items’ original flavors. A simple and classic bread or cracker provide a strong base without overpowering the other flavors. We recommend our housemade mini French Loaf, and multi-grain crackers. 

 

Add-ons

While charcuterie boards are practically perfect with the basics, this is your chance to show your creative side by adding items that enhance the flavors. G.B. Russo’s Jalapeño Pepper Jelly will be sure to kick things up a notch!

 

All of these items are found in-store, but you can also ask our staff for some of their favorite G.B. Russo brand items to make your charcuterie board pop.

 

 

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Family Recipe: Frank’s Zuppa di Fagioli

January is National Soup Month, which feels just right in this chilly Midwest weather. It also happens to be National Sunday Supper Month. These are good reminders to slow down, check in with your favorite people, and truly enjoy your meal. What better way to acknowledge these monthly themes than to have soup for your Sunday dinner! We’re sharing one of our favorite family recipes to help inspire your Sunday soup – Frank’s Zuppa di Fagioli.

 

Frank Russo (he’s the “son” in G.B. Russo & Son) made this tasty soup for his own family dinners and celebrations. ­Fagioli is the Italian word for beans, so you know it’s a hearty soup that will satisfy any degree of hunger. Don’t let the simplicity of this recipe fool you, it’s versatile and can easily fit your dietary needs. You can even make it into a pasta dish. It’s a classic, quick and easy soup recipe. For a meat-less option, just remove the sausage because it’s loaded with a variety of beans for protein.

 

Everything you need to whip up this family favorite can be found at G.B. Russo’s. We can also help you find the perfect food or drink pairings to lock in your spot as the favorite gathering place for Sunday supper.

 

Frank Russo’s Zuppa di Fagioli

  • Villa Russo Strozzapreti Pasta
  • Villa Russo Abruzzo Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Villa Russo Homemade Italian Sausage (optional)
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Garbanzo Beans (aka Chick Peas)
  • Roman Beans (aka Cranberry Beans)
  • Cannellini Beans
  • Vegetable Broth

 

  1. In a soup pot, heat vegetable broth.

  2. In a separate pot, cook pasta as directed.

  3. Drain, and pour into a pan.

  4. Add beans, olive oil, and garlic and cook until warm.

  5. Add pan ingredients into vegetable broth, and let simmer.

 

Russo family tip: Sprinkle on some cheese just before serving. Villa Russo Freshly Grated Cheeses have no fillers, just 100% cheese! Choose from Romano, Parmesan Reggiano, or a blend – freshly grated in-store.

 

 

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Soups and Pairings

Beef Chili

Soup is great for the winter, but beef chili is good all year round. We don’t want our spoon to stick straight up in the bowl, so our chili has the perfect ratio of meat, vegetables, and broth. Shave some aged cheddar cheese over the top and have it melt into the chili. We suggest using a Microplane rasp grater – it’s another great use beyond zesting fruits

 

Broccoli Cheese

Some soup fans prefer this soup to be as thick and cheesy as possible. We make our broccoli cheese soup with Welsh cheddar cheese. Sprinkle in some coarse black pepper and shred EVEN MORE CHEESE onto the top of the bowl. Make this crowd-pleaser for the kids and pair it with Dankalicious India Pale Ale for the adults.

 

French Onion

Just because this soup has simple ingredients doesn’t mean you should cast this soup to the side. Beef broth and carmelized onions work harmoniously in this soup. Traditionally this soup is served after baking or broiling a topping of croutons and a semi-hard cheese, like gruyere. To really get the flavors to compliment each other, shave some cave aged gruyere over the top to get the perfect combination with each spoonful. You can probably tell we love French Onion soup – in case you missed last week’s blog, we have the perfect French Onion handled ceramic bowls with a top to warm you up.

 

Hunter’s Soup

Hunter’s soup is similar to a minestrone in its broth. Just add in your favorite vegetables to make this soup hearty. We recommend shaving Italian fontina over a fresh bowl to make the soup pop. We almost always recommend adding cheese whenever possible! It’s exactly what your outdoor enthusiast will crave when they’re de-thawing by the fire or straight out of the thermos in the middle of a picturesque outdoor scene.

 

Don’t forget the wine!

No matter what soup you make, 1000 Stories Bourbon Barrel Aged Zinfandel (2014) from California is exactly what you’ll want to enhance your meal. You’ll notice aromatic red fruit scents, and complex black fruit flavors that combine with white pepper spices. This batch is rounded off with a hint of smokiness, due to the bourbon barrel aging.    

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January – Kitchen Favorites: The right way to store soup

During the cold winter months nothing is more satisfying than a steaming bowl of your favorite soup. Prepping meals ahead of time is a great way to save time and energy. Soup is a great meal to have on hand for those chilly days. Use our steps to optimize your soup’s flavor when storing it.

Cool.

Before you put away your soup, make sure it’s fully cooled. Instead of cooling your soup in the refrigerator or freezer, give it a nice ice bath to speed up the process and really cool the soup down.

Package.

You can seal up your soup in classic plastic containers, but they’re often bulky and take up a lot of space. Grab a large freezer bag and set the bottom in a large bowl, next spoon in your soup. When you go to seal it, remove all the excess air to avoid freezer burn. Use a straw to suck the air out of the bag before zipping it closed. Don’t forget to label your soup with they type of soup and the date of storage.

Freeze.

The flexibility of the bag allows for more storage options in your freezer. We recommend laying the bags flat, if possible. This will allow you to stack multiple soups without taking up a lot of space.

Reheat.

Ready for soup? Plan ahead! Let the soup thaw overnight in your refrigerator. Dairy-based soups should be reheated at a low temperature; all other soups can be set to a medium-low temperature. Stir occasionally, serve and enjoy!

Here are some of our favorite kitchen items for making and enjoying soup:

  • Traditional French Onion Soup bowls with lids – French Onion soup always tastes better in a traditional ceramic French Onion Soup bowl. It’s the perfect size for you to enjoy your favorite recipe. Plus, these bowls come with a lid to help keep the soup warm and toasty.
  • Good Grips OXO Squeeze & Pour silicone measuring cups – Available in 1 cup or 4 cup sizes, the flexible silicone container allows for easy pouring.
  • Cooks Innovation Simmer Mat Heat Diffuser* – If you’re busy cooking and the stovetop is full, this extra burners is perfect for reheating your soup because it won’t burn the stock.

*Available for a limited time

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New Year’s Eve Appetizers

Welcoming the New Year means reflection over the past year, as well as looking ahead to the future. But most importantly, it’s a great reason to have a party! There are a lot of ways to ring in the new year: an elegant dinner party with friends, a casual multi-generational family gathering or a quiet evening at home with your pajamas on and the fire blazing. Whichever way you love to spend your New Year’s Eve, these appetizers are quick and easy to make without skimping on taste. Enjoy before your meal, during your holiday party or as a midnight snack.

 

Asparagus Prosciutto Wrap

  • Cut parmigiano reggiano into slivers
  • Trim fresh asparagus to same length and wrap with Prosciutto di Parma

   

Cucumber Rolls

  • Use a sharp knife, mandolin or a Y vegetable peeler to cut thin strips of cucumber
  • In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, salt, pepper, marinated garlic, cheddar cheese, chopped peppadew peppers and chopped green onions
  • Spoon some of the cheese mixture onto the cucumber
  • Roll and fasten with a toothpick.

 

Mozzarella and Pepperoni Skewers

  • Slice spicy margherita pepperoni into pucks
  • Stuff mozzarella pearls into peppadew peppers and skewer together with a toothpick
  • Top with a piece of fresh basil or drizzle balsamic glaze

 

Winter Wonderland Brownies

  • Cut brownie into small, separate squares
  • With a piping bag, pipe Russo’s homemade cannoli filling onto the brownie in a swirling motion to create the tree shape
  • Top with sprinkles and powdered sugar

 

With many recipes, you need to run all over town to gather up the ingredients. Luckily, you can get all these at our store. Stop by, or check out our website at gbrusso.com.

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Top Wines to Ring in the New Year

New Year’s Eve is our last chance to indulge before the resolutions and post-holiday guilt kicks in. Don’t let a bad wine choice ruin your night.

We’re dedicated to helping you make solid wine picks year-round, especially as we get ready to close out 2016. Toast this year’s final moments with the perfect glass, whether it’s a red, white, or bubbly. If you’re not sure which wine to go with, we’ve got you covered. Here are five wines we recommend to ring in 2017.

  1. Route Stock – Route 29, Napa Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon

This is a crowd-pleaser for any Cabernet Sauvignon lover. Route Stock is a “negotiant” brand, which means it purchases finished wines from existing wineries and puts its label on the bottles. The wine offered at G.B. Russo is from the Stag Leap’s district and has the classic flavor notes of the area. You’ll notice a blackberry taste that is reminiscent of crème di cassis, as well as hints of mushrooms and herbs. Because of their negotiant brand status, the prices have not risen like many other cabernets in Napa Valley, making this wine a great value.

  1. Raeburn, Chardonnay, 2014

For a fancier affair (think ball gowns and penguin suits) the go-to Chardonnay is Rombauer. Looking for something at a lower price point? An excellent alternative is the Raeburn Chardonnay, which is half the price. This is a classic California Chardonnay that has a buttery flavor with white pear, apple and nectarine fruit tones that are complimented by soft vanilla. A toasted-oak finish works with the fruit flavors, leaving an easy finish.

  1. Ayres, Pinot Noir, 2014

This pinot noir comes from Willamette Valley in Oregon, one of the USA’s most popular destinations for non-California wines. Ripe dark cherry and blueberry mingle with baking spice flavors to create this spectacular medium-bodied pinot noir. It’s rich and balanced with a smooth finish. This is an ideal wine for a cold wintery night.

  1. Roederer Estates, Brut

Glitz up your glass with this bubbly treat. World-renowned Champagne producer Louis Roederer has developed California’s first sparkling wine. The addition of oak-aged reserve wines added to each year’s blend makes this brut truly unique. Complex notes of pear, spice and hazelnut enhances the crisp and elegant flavors. Light, fresh and fruity with a great depth of flavor.

  1. La Caña, Sauvignon Blanc

No New Year’s fiesta is complete without La Caña Sauvignon Blanc. A varietal native to Spain, this is truly a hidden gem. You will taste aromas of lime zest and ginger work cohesively with flavors of peach, apple and blanched almond. In this wine, you get the tart Sauvignon Blanc flavors without the grassy undertones. It’s clean and simple, accented by hints of mineral, toast and fresh herbs.

These wines are just five of the thousands we carry at our store. Stop by and pick up one of these recommendations or find your new favorite with help from our knowledgeable staff.

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The Perfect Gift for Corporate or Hostess

 

More and more businesses are hosting holiday parties after the traditional Christmas season and the holiday season is now going well beyond the New Year.  G.B. Russo has the perfect gift for your upcoming holiday gathering whether it’s for work or play.

Sweet (and Salty) Treats

G.B. Russo has a variety of sweets from Grand Rapids all the way to Italy. Whether you’re shopping for someone who loves chocolate and sugared candies, or prefers salty snacks; we have you covered. Check out our display of G.B. Russo packaged snacks for a wide variety of chocolate covered nuts or pretzels, sugared and dried fruits, mixed nuts, and our unique array of specialty items. You’ll be sure to find the perfect indulgence!

Looking for something fresh and homemade? Pick up some of our famous homemade cannoli. While we can’t share the recipe for the cannoli filing – it’s a family secret – we love to share the finished product! For a fun and festive treat, you can purchase all the fixings for our special babbo natale cookies as well.

Dipping Delight

A go-to gift is an olive oil and balsamic vinegar pairing. We have a great selection of olive oils to dip or use in your favorite recipe. Some of our favorite olive oils include Bella Famiglia Grapeseed Oil, Mantova Golden Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or G. B. Russo’s Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil. It’s buttery with a slightly peppery taste and is unfiltered from the Abruzzo region of Italy. Not to mention, it’s our best seller! Be sure to try Blis 9 Sherry Vinegar (we also recommend their soy sauce for an Asian-style meal or maple syrup to with your pancakes in the morning), Romantica Balsamic Vinegar or the Acetum Balsamic Glaze. Perfect with a fresh Italian loaf from our bakery!

Visit our deli section for mouth-watering dips, including spinach dip, beet hummus, and caviar for a special treat. One of our customer favorites are G.B. Russo’s  Dipping Herbs. You can add these to any dip or top your favorite pizza, salad, or pasta. You can also try G.B. Russo Sizzling Peach Salsa and Spicy Guacamole Starter to kick your holiday fiesta up a notch!

Group Gifting

The best way to celebrate is to celebrate together! Cater your holiday or New Year’s party through G.B. Russo. We provide tasteful options to fit any style of party – appetizers and antipasto, sandwiches, and desserts. See our full list of catering options, or we can customize platters to fit your specific needs. You can also call or visit the store for more information.

Looking to send a beautifully put-together gift basket? Combine your favorite cocktail ingredients to make your favorite holiday cocktail to share. Or, visit our wine selection and get expert advice from Dave in choosing the perfect bottle of wine, or pick some of your top picks and add them to a carefully crafted 6-pack for variety.

Still unsure? Pick up a gift certificate for your host or hostess so that they can pick out their favorite G.B. Russo treats themselves.