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Joe and Son's Olive Oils brings Italy to Tampa

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Posted at 6:52 AM, May 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-20 08:14:10-04

Italian families many times are bonded over a passion and love of food.

Recipes are passed down from generations, and the apple doesn’t fall very from the tree right down the street here either.

There's a little slice of Italy in South Tampa at Joe and Son's Olive Oils.

"The original Joe and Son’s market or grocery store started in Ybor City in 1938 by my great grandfather and his son and my grandparents took it over," Andrea Messina, owner of Joe and Son's, said. "When they retired in the late 70s they shuttered the doors."

Just over 10 years ago, Messina opened this modern interpretation of her family’s business. The focus has shifted a bit.

"Not only is it the top quality but it’s the freshest you’re going to find, we get a northern hemisphere harvest in the wintertime, and a southern hemisphere harvest in the summertime."

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There are over 50 different varieties of infused extra virgin olive oils and infused balsamic vinegars. But you can't fully appreciate it if you don’t know how to taste it.

You can sample anything and everything here.

"Take a little sip, a little slurp, that in Italian is called slurpaggio, so it sounds better than slurping," Messina said.

Now, let’s debunk the “myth” that you cannot cook with extra virgin olive oil.

"Pan sear, bake, roast, if you see things smoking it means you’re burning it, you probably just want to stay away from it," Messina said.

But Messina has a firm grasp of the art of Italian cooking thanks to her grandmother Lena, who can be seen in several pictures throughout the store.

"She’s really the one who taught me to cook, I still remember as a little girl tugging on her apron strings, let me help you, let me help you!," Messina said.

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Messina even authored a cookbook with recipes from products in her store. But perhaps the biggest tribute is saved for her grandfather johnny.

"I get a little teary-eyed when I drive off at the end of the day and essentially see my grandfather looking down on me and think would he have ever imagined his face being on the side of building," Messina said.