Small City Market, a longtime commercial anchor in downtown Vergennes, is one of those Vermonty destinations that has a customer base that isn't afraid to drive the extra mile for special goodies not found elsewhere-such as New York-style brick oven pizza and distinctive Vermont Coffee offerings. The market, which broke ground on a spiffy new market and Mobil gasoline service at 2 S. Water St. back in May, has reopened for business to the delight of local-and not so local-residents.
Take Mike Cavalucchi, a retired Bronx fireman now living in Addison. We found him outside Small City Market filling up his GMC 4x4 truck with Mobil gasoline.
"I was in Vergennes back in September to pick some truck parts," said Cavalucchi. "So I stopped at the market for a quick lunch. I see the deli advertises New York-style brick oven pizza. I said 'yeah, well, ok' let's give it a try. You know what they say about New York-style pizza, eh? I am Italian-American, from the Bronx. Believe me, it's not easy finding good pizza in Vermont."
As Cavalucchi tells it, he's back in Vergennes-not for truck parts this time, but for a lkarge New York-style pizza to take home and a fill up. Small City Market's pizzas ought to be good, they're made with wholesome ingredients in one of the world's best pizza ovens manufactured in the USA by the Marcel family of New York.
"I was in Vergennes in September to pick up some parts," said Cavalucchi. "So I stopped at the market for a quick lunch. I liked the pizza. Now this place is on my list. I really like the pizza. It tastes like home. It's worth the drive. I come up here one day a week. I get a pizza pie, pick up some wine, snacks, then fill up the truck with gas."
Yes, there must be something special about Small City Market. Mike Cavalucchi has apparently discovered the magic.
Owners Cory and Hilary Foote bought Small City Market at it's old location, across the street, in 1998. They purchased the store from Harold and Ann Masterson.
"The business has continued to grow since 1998," said Cory, a 13th generation native Vermonter. "I had been in real estate before going into this business. I also worked in retail in the Middlebury area-I worked for several successful local businessmen such as Sam Lazarus, Tony Neri, Jimmy Farrell. I even owned a pizza shop in Middlebury.
"The community has been very supportive during our transition to the new store," he said. "I think our customers are pleased. While our old space was 1,275 square feet, the new store is 2,800 square feet plus storage area. A few customers have even joked telling us that they don't have to duck down coming inside the new front door."
The Footes wanted the new store to be comfortable and add something attractive to the cityscape of downtown that fits in. The interior decor, coordinated mostly by Hilary, reflects a modern New England style with a nod to the past. There's plenty of natural light illuminating the store via a beautiful, clerestory tower.
"We didn't want a typical convenience store which was all glass. Customers like to gather here. It's a bright place," Cory said. "Some folks were sad about us leaving the old location, because there was a store there since the 1870s, and it was a generational hub. But it was time for a new store."
The new store includes a cold beverage cave, an expanded white, red and blush wine selection, a larger delicatessen with an impressive take-out menu plus a variety of fresh New York-style brick oven pizzas that includes Cory's own tasty barbeque-chicken pizza.
"We've expanded our menu," said Hilary. "We do everything from coffee and breakfast sandwiches, a full array of lunch offerings, and a nightly menu-appetizers, salads, hot and cold subs and of course regular and speciality pizzas."
Hilary noted that an open-air merchandiser provides customers with a daily selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, and more.
"Since our market now offers coffee beans prepared by Vermont Coffee Co. of Middlebury, more java lovers have been dropping by to sample the hot brews and iced cappuccino. We switched from Green Mountain Coffee to Vermont Coffee and that seems to have been a good move," Cory said.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. But when in Vergennes, you can do one better-drop by Small City Market for a bite to eat or something to take home like a fresh brick-oven pizza. And if, as the old Italian saying goes, good food is the body of good living, then Small City Market wins all around-it even has the wine for life's soul.
Check It Out: Small City Market, 2 S. Water St., Vergennes, is open 5-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Sundays. The delicatessen is open 5-8 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 3-8 p.m. Sunday. For more details and holiday times, call 802-877-2416.