A new online shopping site was launched on Thursday, featuring a new concept in shopping for genuine Italian food and lifestyle products.
The website (http://www.veraitalia.jp/) features products selected by Elio Orsara, owner of the restaurant Elio Locanda Italiana established 15 years ago in the Tokyo Kojimachi area. Orsara said he has personally selected the products, responding to what he thinks is his mission in Japan: introducing everybody to the authentic Italian taste and culture.
Orsara said there is a gap between the real Italian taste and the image that the general Japanese public has of it. Products like Parmesan cheese or olive oil are now being produced in many different areas of the world and are quite easy to find in our supermarkets. Nevertheless, olive oils that are not produced in Italy but still are marked with the Italian flag, or Parmesan cheese whose taste is completely differently from what it should are widespread, he said.
Markets exploit the popularity of Italian cuisine and Italian sounding names are used to better commercialize products which in no way are Italian, with the obvious results of manipulating their authenticity in the kitchen and on the shelves of grocery stores and supermarkets throughout Japan, Orsara said.
The core of the selected products comes from relatively small, family-run companies that work with passion and are very attentive to preserving and carrying on their local traditions. Orsara himself visited them and choose only selected products that made him proud as an Italian and that are representative of the real Italy, etched with a long history, and of the producers' firm and earnest attitude toward work.
Some of the products are being imported in Japan for the first time, and also special attention has been devoted to preserving freshness. Fresh products like mozzarella cheese will come by order directly from Italy several times a week, allowing consumers to enjoy in the comfort of their home the same taste and freshness they could find shopping in an Italian “gastronomia” shop.
The real Italy is not only food, though. Vera Italia will offer a selection of Italy
s wide craftsmans products, and customers will be able to browse and shop for select items as they would do in an Italian “bottega” artisan`s boutique, while learning about the history and traditions behind every piece and receiving advice on how to enjoy at the best their favorite items. From artistic Murano glasses still produced on the famous venetian island with methods that date back centuries ago, to elegant and finely designed pieces of Italian jewelry, the best of Italian local tradition will be just a click away.
“My work is to put Italian culture on the plate. That
s why I dont want to tell lies or serve the customers pale imitations of the real products," said Orsara.