Economic crisis in Italy taking toll on NYC businesses

March 9, 2012 5:09:39 AM PST
Italy's national debt is about $2.6 trillion, and the economic turmoil is being felt here in rising prices for Italian favorites.

Casa Della Mozzarella on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx is known for having some of the best fresh mozzarella in the city, made by hand everyday by owner Orazio Cariciotto. But he also sells olive oil, cured meats and hard cheeses, all imported from Italy, where the prices have been climbing as the country's economy falters.

"So the parmigiano was $12.99 before, now it's $15 a pound," he said. "A big raise."

Chairman of the Belmont Business Improvement District Frank Franz has been closely monitoring the European economy.

"Whenever you have an uneasy economic atmosphere and indecision, you have prices rising, you have problems with exports, you have strikes in Italy," he said. "And in a community like ours, where we do an awful lot of importing from Italy, both food and non-food objects, it turns around and gets a little harder to get deliveries, and prices go up."

While prices on imported foods from Italy have already gone up, stores that specialize in non-food items are bracing for the same thing.

Cerini Coffee and Gifts carries high-end Italian espresso machines, ranging in price from $200 to nearly $1,000. The time to buy may be now, before prices go up even higher.

"I think we're going to get a 10 to 20 percent increase," Giovanni Cerini said. "I think we're going to split it with the customer. So we're going to see what we can do."

For now, customers are willing to put up with higher prices to indulge in their favorite Italian products. But the question is for how long.

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