WESTFIELD, NJ — Vine Ripe Markets, an independent grocery store on North Avenue in Westfield, is not your typical supermarket. For owner Frank Bruno, the son of a cop and a teacher, it’s a dream come true.
“It was a life-long dream,” Bruno said. “I envisioned the American dream as being a small business owner.”
Bruno, father of Frankie (10), Allegra (8) and Lia (5) with wife Alexis, has fond memories of his dad cooking at home, and today he helps customers share in the Italian-American food traditions that he grew up with, from packages of ingredients to make “Sunday sauce” in the meat department every weekend to insanely fresh mozzarella made almost constantly in-store. (The shop even offers a class in “mutz” making every Monday.)
Beyond gourmet and specialty Italian items, the one-stop shop offers everything you could want in a grocery store — a variety of high-quality products at competitive prices, freshly prepared gourmet meals, friendly service — without the hassle of a big, corporately owned supermarket.
“We’re a local small business,” Bruno said.
Recently, the store began offering delivery. But you may want to visit Vine Ripe yourself, just for the sheer joy of shopping there.
Grab a cup of coffee by the bakery section filled that’s with irresistible sweet treats, then explore every nook and cranny to get the full experience. You’ll quickly find Italian breads hot from the oven, machines that let you grind your own peanuts for peanut butter and almonds for almond butter, conveniently pre-cut fresh vegetables and fruit, ready-to-cook meals, prepared entrees and sides, a deli with sandwiches made to order and gourmet goodies and more.
The catering department can serve a whole party, or it can feed your family any night of the week. The store’s signature “Dinners for Four” menu offers an expansive set of options that feed an entire family for under $30. The dinners include an entrée; pasta, rice or potato dish; vegetables; a salad; and a loaf of fresh Italian bread.
Shoppers quickly notice the upbeat oldies like Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons playing over the speakers.
“I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra,” Bruno said. “I just have an affinity for music from that generation. It’s upbeat. It’s pleasant. It makes you smile, you know? When you come into the store, I want you to be happy, I want you to enjoy the experience.”
“We’re supporters of the community,” Bruno said. “I love to interact with people and I love to be around food, so this job basically marries the two of them.”
Vine Ripe Markets is located at 430 North Ave. East in Westfield, NJ. Ample free parking available. Call 908-233-2424 or visit www.vineripemarkets.com for more information or to place an order.