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Watch: This new Italian grocer and café serves breakfast and lunch

Featuring Italian pastries, coffee, housemade pasta and a signature breakfast sandwich

The new year had just gotten underway when we got the news that Oh! Carolina, the indie daytime cafe and grocery store run by the team behind Bells and Whistles and Lucky Taco was saying farewell after about a year and half in the neighbourhood.

It didn't take more than a few weeks for the onetime neighbourhood grocery store space to change hands, with the ever-expanding Kitchen Table Group (Ask For Lugi, DiBeppe, Giovane Caffe) picking up the keys and flipping the charming little space into a new hub for their "Luigi" line of fresh house-made pasta, sauces, and other imported and local goods. 

Called Mercato di Luigi, the cafe/shop hybrid offers old-world Italian charm. The casual counter-service spot has a small menu of dishes made in-house; in the mornings they're turning out their signature breakfast sandwich, which features scrambled egg, prosciutto, caciocavallo (an Italian stretched-out curd cheese), arugula, and pesto mayo on a buttery cornetto - Italy's answer to neighbour France's croissant.

Midday the tiny open kitchen switches to its pasta menu presented chalkboard or "fresh sheet" style; for example, you might find, as I did, a spaghettoni with lamb ragu with a generous snowfall of grated cheese on top. They have an espresso beverage program, plenty of cold drinks in the fridge (like imported artisanal Italian soft drinks), and fresh Italian pastries. 

Tip: If you get there at the magical time of 11:30 a.m. you get the best of both worlds - you can order a breakfast sandwich and pasta dishes.

Mercato di Luigi is located at 580 E 12th Ave in Vancouver and is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Watch: Inside Mount Pleasant's new Italian grocer/café Mercato di Luigi

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