Long-awaited Cantoro’s Market opening this week in Northville Township

Putting in long hours prepping a business opening can be taxing. But for Cantoro’s Italian Market grocery manager Van Karibian, it’s just part of the excitement.

“We’re just anxious to get everything going,” the Shelby Township resident said. “We have all the product up and all the neat stuff we brought up from Italy. It’s going to be a destination; it’s not just going to be shopping.”

Karibian is one of 150 employees ready to work at the new Cantoro’s Italian Market opening Wednesday at 15550 Haggerty, just north of Five Mile in Northville Township, though it has a Plymouth mailing address. The location is the second Cantoro’s Market and is significantly larger than the current store, located on Middlebelt in Livonia, which will remain open.

At the new market, patrons are invited to come in and not only shop, but spend time perusing the various goods available, as well as perhaps sit down and enjoy a fine meal or glass of wine.

“We have a different outlook than most (shops) do,” said Mike Larranaga, the sommelier at the new Cantoro’s Market. “We want to be a gathering place like in Italy. The markets there, they’re gathering places. I just want them to come and hang out. I want this to be a comfortable place.”

Visitors to Cantoro’s can come beginning Wednesday and browse aisles full of imported Italian groceries, cheeses, wines and other items. Sausage and pasta will be made on-site using fresh ingredients. A wide selection of wines, specialty liquors and Michigan craft beer is also available.

For those interested in staying a while, Cantoro’s Market will also have several tables set up for meals and a bar. The upstairs overlooking the market is large enough to host wedding receptions, which Larranaga said the shop has already started booking: it will begin to take place later this summer.

Downstairs, the market holds its wine cellar, a place where tasters, enthusiasts and businesses can hold events complete with winemakers. There will be several clubs that will meet in the wine cellar, including wine clubs, a cheese club and a dinner club. Larranaga said he’s already had some winemakers visit, including former University of Michigan football player Charles Woodson, who owns a winery in California.

The wine cellar was originally not planned with the market, Larranaga said. One of the two brothers who own the market made a comment regarding a wine cellar and, shortly afterward, contractors were out digging out a cellar, located under the parking lot.

“We do beautiful dinners down here,” Larranaga said.

The market is unique to southeast Michigan, Larranaga said. Other cities in the United States, such as New York and Chicago, have markets similar to Cantoro’s, but nothing in metro Detroit compares, he said, a movement ushered in by the shop’s owners, the Fallone family.

That’s one reason the shop has delayed its opening until March, he said. Many times, the delay came from the shop employees looking to make improvements to the market, which can take time. Those improvements, Larranaga said, should be worth the wait to patrons.

“This blows everything away,” he said. “I’ve done lectures in Napa, I’ve done them all over California, this is unlike anything that I’ve done.”