Nevertheless, I had an awkward relationship with them. I'm not a foodie and I know little about Italy. Not an auspicious start. By the time I started patronizing them they were all crusty old guys, and I was too. There is a reason customer-service businesses prefer to use young people. "What's this?" I'd ask, and they'd all roll their eyes.
Best known for her research into local culinary history, Burns traces Italian Importing Co. back to Mazzuchi Bros., a noodle and ravioli company at 622 J St. that opened in 1905. She says it was common in those days, especially for Italians, to have brothers form a food business, including Corti Brothers. Italian Importing changed hands several times, but the business has run uninterrupted to this day.