In 1914, Luigi DiPasquale, Sr., an Italian immigrant to Baltimore, established a small corner store on Claremont Street stocking groceries and household goods for residents in the developing Highlandtown neighborhood. Over a century later, the business has kept up with the changing tastes of local shoppers. Now owned by Joe DiPasquale, the store on Gough Street is now a unique marketplace that draws shoppers from across the region seeking imported and locally produced Italian food.
Early on, the DiPasquale family butchered chickens and goats to offer fresh meat and produced household products, such as homemade bleach. Of course, Luigi, also known as Louie Moore, DiPasquale also played an active role in the community—organizing a band along with Larry DiMartino at Our Lady of Pompei church (established in 1923). In the 1940s, a growing number of Italian immigrants moved from Little Italy to Highlandtown as commercial development of the downtown area expanded.
In the 1980s, the shop’s current owner, Joe DiPasquale, took an extended trip to Italy, where he travelled the length of the country, fell in love with the country and, most importantly, the traditional foods. Joe’s wife family had only recently immigrated to the United States in the 1970s and he credits them as an influence. After his close study of authentic Italian cooking, Joe DiPasquale always orders the finest ingredients and foods he can find, whether it is imported or domestic. For example, while the Nutella hazelnut spread is produced in the United States, Joe noticed that the Italian-manufactured version offered a better flavor—so the store only stocks the imported option.
In 1988, DiPasquale’s expanded in a move from their original location on Claremont Street to the current site on Gough Street one block away. The business installed ovens to bake their own bread. In recent years, DiPasquale’s prepared foods have been featured on the Food Network’s “Diner, Dives, and Drive-Ins” and on the Travel Channel’s “Zimmern List.” The television fame brought an overwhelming influx of patrons. For weeks, lines of customers looking to buy lasagne and arancini di riso (deep fried balls of rice and meat) stretched out the door.