Lovera’s Famous Italian Market -Visiting Italy Right Here in Oklahoma
One bright and sunny day a few months back, my Mom-n-Law Fran and my Sis-in-Law Cheryl and I took a nice drive to Krebs, Oklahoma to visit Lovera’s Famous Italian Market. Many of our specialty shops here in Oklahoma City sell some of their locally-made food items like cheeses and meats, so I was intrigued to hunt down the real deal and see it for myself. Cheryl and Fran were up for it as well so we headed out.
It was a nice little jaunt to Krebs but I’d heard so many wonderful things about Lovera’s, and three women in a car is not so bad for an hour or two, as we always have plenty to talk about.
Lovera’s is a third generation Italian market currently run by Sam Lovera, whose grandmother started the business many years ago and then handed down the reigns to his father Mike. Mike’s Grocer eventually evolved under his tutelage and sausage making into the little gem that is now called Lovera’s. Sam expanded the store by bringing in more imports, starting a sausage factory, and began making some wonderfully delicious cheeses as well.
After struggling with and yelling at our GPS for awhile (it was being ornery), we stopped at a road side gas station to ask where the market was. Locals are always great information sources, and while we were there we also asked where we should eat lunch. Unfortunately, the place they recommended (Pete’s Place) was not open for lunch, so we may have to return sometime in the evening. However, the market was very close and was open..so off we went.
Pulling up to the old vintage looking building, I was surprised at the how small it was.
Reminiscent of a small store in Europe, the tiny shopping carts were parked outside on the front sidewalk. I think I had pictured something a little larger, but sometimes good things really do come in small packages, so we headed inside. This building dates back to 1910 and the charming exterior is just a lead-in to what’s inside.
The view inside the store is one of wonderfully overstocked goodness.
There are rows upon rows of imported Italian items and there are also many that are made by Lovera’s themselves.
Things like marinara sauces, spices and rubs, anti-pasti like gourmet stuffed olives (garlic and jalepeno stuff olives anyone?), and numerous pickled vegetables like okra or asparagus.
You would feel like you stepped back in time into an old-school Italian market where coffee is made by an espresso machine perched atop an old wine barrel…except that it’s a modern machine that tips you off that it’s 2012.
And speaking if espresso, Go ahead and pick up a bag of Miscela D’Oro Gusto Classico Espresso Beans while you’re at it. Have you had Italian coffee or espresso? Yum my friends. Get it grinded, or whole bean…it’s your choice..but it is by certain…Italian coffee.
Somehow, we wandered towards the back of the small space, and this caught my eye.
Lovera’s has several selections of Olive Oils..some from Italy, some with Lovera’s labels..and you can decide which one you want by tasting them at the meat counter, where a variety of them are displayed with some of their fresh-baked bread.
I walked away with one infused with Rosemary. And it’s superb. My family is in love with it.
Drizzled over potatoes or roasted root vegetables or just left by itself with a hearty loaf of toasted crusty bread…this is worth the trip back to Lovera’s for more. Or maybe, I just want to go again to bring home a few different kinds next time.
Underneath the olive oil counter is a glass case filled with butchered meat.
Steaks and ground beef peer out at you through their glass front and these look wonderful…amd around the corner? You’ll see another meat case.
Correction. Meat and cheese case.
Temptations here range from mozzarella cheese to Lovera’s house-made Italian sausage. And there’s thick-sliced bacon, which always tempts even the strongest of wills.
And then, continue to move right around the wall to another meat case.
Again, the varieties of Lovera’s homemade sausages abound, ranging from summer sausage to smoked Italian sausage…but also imported deliciousness. Deliciousness like Genova Salami by Volpi, Volpi Hot Sopressata Salalme (which I drove home with and is made by Italian makers in St. Louis, MO).
And while we’re speaking of the meats and cheese, it would be criminal, horrendous, in fact to not highlight the treasured cheese I came home with…
Lovera’s hand formed caciocavallo cheese is seen throughout our great state of Oklahoma… and for good reason. Made of 100% cow’s milk, stretched and formed much like mozzarella this semi-soft ball of creamy goodness has been made at Lovera’s since 1947. You’ll see it hanging overhead by yellow rope and just ask for one that’s ready and they’ll be happy to cut it down, package it up and send you on your way with it.
Hung for five days and then dipped in wax and hung to age for 60 days more, if there’s one thing you can’t leave Lovera’s with..it’s this cheese. The smoked variety is superb. And sliced on a hard cracker with a dollop of sun-dried tomato in oil?
It’s a wonderful meal in itself.
Turn away from the meat and cheese and find Lovera’s freshly made and frozen pastas in the freezer case…
Top them with one of their fresh sauces, and you’ve got an Italian meal, made simple and mouth watering for you by Lovera’s. Just stop on by on the way home from work.
Oh shoot, I forgot bread.
I came home with some Ciabbata Rolls..made authentically, with nice holes in the crumb. We dipped these in the Rosemary Oil and they were heaven.
And what Italian market visit would be complete without pasta?
From Fusco to Dell’ Alpe, Lovera’s offers some fine pasta to round out your meal.
There is too much at Lovera’s for me to show you in this one little article..things like Sea Salt.
And Un Mondo Chorizo.
A hot paprika Spanish chorizo, this excited me..and not just a little bit.
Lovera’s might be a bit of a drive for you. But go and see the rest for yourself.
Can I tell you something?
Life is about moments in time.
Plan for them. Make the drive. Go with someone special. Experience a culture from another time. Take a day and drive to Lovera’s. Step back in time..and experience good taste in the present. Take home a trunkload of Italian goodness from Lovera’s.
It’s worth the trip.
Lovera’s Famous Italian Market
95 West 6th Street
Krebs, OK 74554