Walking through the tall doors of Ratto’s, you may journey back to the time years ago when you first discovered this hidden gem in its beautiful Victorian storefront in Old Oakland. Giovanni Battista Ratto opened his shop in 1897 as one of the first groceries offering Mediterranean spices, bulk rice, beans and pasta, Italian Olive Oils and more. Besides serving the Bay Area, people would travel from the valley for two hours just to come here and buy the ingredients they needed to prepare their family recipes in the small towns where they lived. G.B. was Elena Durante’s great grandfather. Her grandfather and father, both named Martin Durante, carried on the tradition until Elena took over the business in 2001.
“We are now an authentic West Coast Deli,” says Elena. “In addition to making great deli and hot-pressed sandwiches, we also stock a wide selection of gourmet groceries, wines and bulk spice. Back in the day we were one of the few specialty grocery stores here and helped people continue their culinary traditions.” G.B. Ratto & Co. still offers a vast selection of fresh dried herbs and spices with a large selection of special pastas, Ratto’s vinegar, Olive Oils, a scrumptious chile paste, lovely cheeses and meats, fresh lunch salads and of course, a curated selection of wines.
It has that hint of Old World Market with influences from France, Italy and Spain. There’s also Orange and Rose Flower Water, Pomegranate Molasses, Dolmas and some Turkish products, a great tahini and Lemon Infused Olive Oil from Italy. “Another thing people love about us is that we have a great selection of chocolate bars – good for that afternoon snack,” adds Elena.
Ratto’s is nestled between Caffé 817, known for their legendary coffee and homemade fare, and District, known for their whiskey, wines and house made charcuterie. “We serve the working population down