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Lakewood Ranch market pays homage to Italian roots

Adolfo's Italian Market and Pizzeria is making its mark at San Marco Plaza.

Gary Blake is the owner of Adolfo's Italian Market and Pizzeria in the San Marco Plaza.
Gary Blake is the owner of Adolfo's Italian Market and Pizzeria in the San Marco Plaza.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Owner Gary Blake calls his Adolfo’s Italian Market and Pizzeria in the San Marco Plaza a “one-stop Italian shop.”

“Ninety-five percent of everything is imported from Italy," Blake said. "There are only a few things I can’t get, so I have to get them from a distributor here. All the wines, except for one, are from Italy. A gentleman from Sicily brought his son over to the United States early on, and they bought a vineyard in Sonoma (Mora Estate). They still grow the grapes and dry them out like they did in Italy on bamboo sticks.” 

The market offers Italian sausages, cheeses, coffees and more. The bread is baked and delivered daily from a bakery in St. Petersburg. The cookies, pastries and desserts are delivered from the next best place to Italy when seeking authentic Italian cuisine — New York and New Jersey. 

A tribute to "The Godfather" sits next to the freshly baked bread.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Born in Connecticut, the 61-year-old Blake moved to Sarasota in 1971. He currently lives in Panther Ridge. His great-grandfather, Leopoldo Colatuono, immigrated from Italy in 1890. Colatuono was only 12 years old when his parents sent him off on a solo journey to find a better life in the United States. 

The little boy grew up to raise a family in Brooklyn, New York. His son was Alberto Adolfo Colatuono — Blake’s beloved grandfather. While Blake’s own middle name is Alberto, he always preferred his grandfather’s, so the new venture was called Adolfo’s. 

“Way back, in Brooklyn, my grandpa and his family were in the garments and food industries," Blake said. "I’ve been in medical sales for the last 20 something years, and I always wanted to get back to my roots. The timing just wasn’t right, Then, I had enough of my medical sales and decided the next journey of my life was going to be something my grandpa would be happy about.” 

Adolfo would be both happy and proud. The market opened in January to a busy first season. Blake sold out of bread, cookies and cheeses nearly every week. Business has slowed with the season, but Adolfo’s has quickly accumulated regular shoppers and diners. 

Paul Lederman is a regular at Adolfo's. The pizzeria is only two miles from his job at the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Paul Lederman, the director of Athletic Center Operations for the Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club, frequents Adolfo’s on his lunch break. 

“The pizza is really good," Lederman said. "The sub sandwiches are really good, and for me, it’s only 2 miles from where I work.”

Frank Sinatra is one of several celebrity photos decorating the walls of Adolfo's Italian Market and Pizzeria.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Customers often ask about the pizza. They can’t quite put their finger on what makes the dough so unique. The secret is semolina flour. 

With Cassariano Italian Eatery as one of his neighbors in the plaza, Blake purposefully left pasta off the menu. The restaurant side of Adolfo’s is strictly a pizzeria — no entrees, just pizza, hot and cold heroes, strombolis, and calzones. 

“We feed off one another because they don’t have a pizza oven,” Blake said, “So if people over there are looking for pizza, they send them here. And we send them over there. It’s worked out really well.”

There might not be any fancy pasta dishes on the menu, but everything but the cold heroes are homemade using family recipes and the olive oils and cheeses sold in the market. 

“No fast food stuff here,” Blake said.  



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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