Kitchen Essentials for Building an Italian Pantry

Pantries in Italy are decidedly different than those in America—here’s how they get it right

In Italy, food is practically regarded as an art form. The culture celebrates tradition in the form of generations-old recipes and dining customs, honors the craft of cooking and baking, and emphasizes quality over convenience. Living in Italy is a locavore's paradise, where the tomatoes in the caprese salad are grown in town (rather than being trucked in from across a continent), the bread on the table is made at the nearest panetteria and the mascarpone in the after-dinner dessert comes from the region.

In other words, it's kind of the opposite of how many people live in America. But you can find that guiding principle at Princi, the bakery and café founded by visionary Italian baker Rocco Princi, which began in southern Italy and has recently expanded to new locations in Seattle, Chicago and New York City.

Princi specializes in authentic Italian pizza, bread, pastries and drinks—but it also has an enviable pantry focused on Italy's most delicious ingredients. If you can't get to Princi to enjoy a perfect square of pizza al taglio or plate of rigatoni, stock up on these must-haves for your own Italian pantry.

L'Isola D'Oro Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil

Canned tuna can differ dramatically from brand to brand, but L'Isola D'Oro is reliably high-quality. Produced in Sicily, this luscious tuna is the key ingredient in Princi's Nizzarda al Tonno summer salad. Combine it with fresh green beans and serve garnished with fresh tomatoes, Taggiasche olives and hard-cooked eggs.

De Cecco and Rustichella Dry Pasta

Princi keeps plenty of rigatoni and trofie on hand from these brands, both produced in Abruzzo. Rigatoni is baked with roast eggplant and tomato sauce for the dish Rigatoni alla Siciliana, while the trofie (which is hand-rolled) is used in the hearty Trofie Pesto salad. To make your own version, combine trofie with fresh pesto, olives, mascarpone cheese, tomatoes and pine nuts.

Terre Francescane Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Pressed in Umbria from Italian olives sourced from three regions, this versatile olive oil is used for both cooking and finishing. You can incorporate it in salads or pizza dough, as a drizzle on top of soup, and anything else your imagination dreams up.

La Torrente Canned Tomatoes

When good tomatoes aren't in season, these canned, peeled whole tomatoes should be your go-to. They're produced in the Sant'Antonio Abate, a municipality of Naples and located in the region of Campania, and are most frequently used for sauces.

Molino Grassi Wheat Flour

Princi uses six types of Molino Grassi flours, a brand produced in Parma in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. The type depends on the flour's use, but Molino Grassi Whole Wheat flour is a good place to start your own collection.