Peck In Milan is still Italy’s largest food and wine store

If you’ve been to Harrods in London, Fauchon in Paris and KaDeWe in Berlin, but not Peck in Milan, you’ve missed one of the greatest food and wine stores in the world. Located near the Duomo, Peck covers three floors and 3,000 square meters (the kitchen is 21,527 square meters), with a wine cellar with 3,500 selections, a “Casa del Formaggio” with more than 250 dairy products, a butcher with the best veal and Val di Chiana beef, special Peck cured meats, gourmet dishes, dozens of olive oils, an awe-inspiring array of prosciutto and salami, and a rotisserie section preparing suckling pig, baby lamb and pheasant, with 200 wines by the glass. Weekly menus appear every Thursday. Most of their items they sell are branded by Peck.

Opened as a grocery store in 1883 by a Czech grocer named Franz Peck, it began to grow to its current gargantuan size after the Stoppiani brothers bought the place in 1970. Since 1986, Peck has collaborated with Japan’s Takashimaya to open 18 small shops there. In 2013, Peck was bought by the Marzotto textile family, whose company itself dates back to 1836 and supplies many of Italy’s top clothing designers. They have even more ideas about expansion.

In 1982, Peck opened his enormous wine shop, reached by a curved staircase filled with gigantic bottles of the world’s finest vintages, all kept under perfect temperature and humidity. One customer, a Turkish businessman, called from his taxi with an order for 50 bottles of Dom Pérignon for dinner that same evening. Finished!

There are three restaurants with different price points: Al Peck, the most elegant, led by chef Matteo Vigotti; Piccolo Peck café with dining bar; and Peck City Life, as well as a very popular cocktail bar, where you can have breakfast. Gelato is made with seasonal ingredients, and the holidays mean a flood of pastries and cakes, especially the three-layer Absolute Chocolate cake.

All the food is prepared in what they call their ‘laboratorio’, and most of the items they sell are Peck brand.

Long before Eataly burst onto the scene in 2002, Peck was committed to sourcing the best and most sustainable ingredients from small producers, farmers and ranchers. Peck is a privately held company and does not disclose its total revenue, but although their online business started during the years of the pandemic and is growing annually, most customers (about 30% of Peck’s clientele are foreign) go there just as much because the experience of wandering the beautiful floors of food and buying the exact same jams or pastries that have been around for decades.

The first time I went to what is often called a “temple of Italian gastronomy,” I was struck by the elegance of everything, from the stately facade to the polished wood and chrome cabinets to the lighting that enhanced the colors of the food accentuates. Fruit is not simply stacked in a container, but carefully placed in towers; cheeses look like still lifes; lobsters are lined up in neat rows, and pies are small works of Milanese art.

Due to the international clientele, many employees speak English, French and other languages, and a tour of the wine cellar is required experience.

Because almost everything is made on site, Peck is careful not to expand much beyond Milan. Where do you get buffalo milk for mozzarella in Dubai or perfectly ripened pears in the Bahamas?

The degree of signature excellence makes some of what Peck sells expensive: online you can spend €138 for a small bottle of well-aged Modena balsamic vinegar and €120 for baby artichokes in virgin olive oil, but there are also remarkably modest prices for other products. items, such as chestnuts in syrup for €5. The house-made pastas are available for less than what you would pay in an American supermarket, such as spaghetti and penne for €4.50.

After 137 years, Peck is not only hanging in there, he’s getting better. Expanding rapidly, like Eataly, with 45 locations in Brazil, Qatar, South Korea and Kuwait, is not an Italian characteristic: Rome was not built in a day, a Maserati takes three months to build and a tailor-made suit from Sartoria Napoeltana will take weeks to make. Patience is still a virtue among the Italian artisans at Peck, even when it comes to: panino sandwich made with our own salted pork.