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New owners of Castellano & Pizzo keep classic tastes

PALMA CEIA — The new owners of Castellano & Pizzo international grocery store say they won't mess with success.

The imported wine and pasta, fresh meat and produce and Italian gourmet take-out specialities are still there. The cafe will continue to offer a salad bar and buffet on weekdays. Cuban sandwiches will still win top prize.

"It's a beautiful business," says Mandy Pallone, who purchased the store with her husband, Robert, in September. "Why change it?"

The sale takes the business out of family hands for the first time in 118 years.

"It's probably the oldest, independent business in the city of Tampa still surviving,'' says Paul Castellano Sr., 69.

He and his wife, Jackie, have owned the store since 1977. Son Paul Castellano Jr. left last year to return to a career as an electrical engineer.

"My great-grandparents opened in 1892, on Eighth Avenue and 18th Street in Ybor City," said Castellano Sr. His grandparents, Paul and Rosalia Pizzo, and parents, Joe and Josephine Castellano, kept the landmark going.

The current Henderson Boulevard location opened in 1981. Two years later the Ybor store was closed.

The Pallones discovered the cafe while vacationing in St. Pete Beach, after selling their beer distributorship in Butler, Pa.

"We asked someone at the pool to recommend a place for lunch and they suggested Castellano & Pizzo," said Mandy, 48, who grew up in Tallahassee.

"Next thing you know, we were making an offer," said Robert, 49.

"They've adopted us,'' said Mandy, who plans to import more stock, expand catering services and offer wine tastings, "with Jackie and Paul's guidance."

The hours remain the same at Castellano & Pizzo, 4200 S Henderson Blvd.: Monday through Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (813) 289-5275 or visit

Boutique has goods to lift your spirits

The dozens of spa products at Cleanse Apothecary promise rejuvenation.

There's the Thymes bath and body collection, the Pre de Provence shea butter, the handmade soaps.

"All the products that make you and everyone you love feel good,'' said Greg Curtis, who opened the Florida Avenue boutique last month with his partner, Terry Bellamy. They chose soothing shades of aqua and espresso to decorate the intimate shop, about two blocks south of Hillsborough Avenue.

"Especially in this economy," Curtis continued. "If you're feeling down, a nice hand cream or even a bar of soap can make you feel better.''

He swears by the fragrant Archipelago Botanical candles.

"Havana is my favorite,'' he said.

Curtis owned a similar business, Body to Body, in Fort Lauderdale, and worked seven years for Neiman Marcus.

A holiday open house Nov. 30 will feature champagne and refreshments from the Refinery from 7 to 9 p.m. at Cleanse Apothecary, 5127 N Florida Ave. Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Call (813) 374-0305.

Soho florist offers freshness guarantee

After seven years as a KaBloom franchisee, florist John Dyn has gone independent.

"It was a great relationship,'' Dyn said, "but their focus was becoming e-commerce and boxed solutions."

That would not suit his following, said Dyn, "who have come to expect eclectic, European-style designs, not canned recipes like 1-800-Flowers." He often photographs clients' orders to document their preferences in a database.

Dyn, who is especially known for creating wedding and large event arrangements, is proud to offer customers a seven-day, unconditional freshness guarantee. "Because we are buying directly from our growers,'' he said, "which shortens the transit process."

Earlier this year, Dyn renamed his S Howard Avenue business, nBlooms Florist Soho. On Sept. 30, he opened a second location, nBlooms Westshore Florist at 3315 S West Shore Blvd., in partnership with event planner Valerie DiVecchio. She also owns a separate consulting business, Divine Creations, a few doors away, at 3309 S West Shore, "for customers who want more than flowers,'' she said. To make an appointment, call (813) 839-5824.

For more information, visit or call 1-800-888-7673.

Do you know something that should be Everybody's Business? Call (813) 226-3332 or e-mail

New owners of Castellano & Pizzo keep classic tastes 11/18/10 [Last modified: Thursday, November 18, 2010 3:31am]
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