Some foods that remind us of home. And some foods that remind us of our hometown. Pino’s Italian sausages have earned their place of honour in both categories, thanks to a secret family recipe that has kept customers coming back for over 37 years.
“My grandfather’s background is as a butcher and he was the meat supervisor, many years ago, for Dominion Supermarkets Ontario Division,” says Shane Bellini, Store Manager, Pino’s get fresh. “When he transitioned to opening his own store, located next door to where we are now, is when he came up with his homemade Italian sausage recipe.”
The grandfather he mentions is Ben Pino, of course, and Shane is the son of Mark Bellini, which means that there are now three generations associated with the Pino’s get fresh location on Trunk Road.
Shane says that Ben has always put the emphasis on quality, fresh meat being available in his store. Today, approximately 10 percent of the 120 staff complement work just in the meat department. And those famous pork sausages remain one of the top seller at Pino’s get fresh.
And they’re not sharing the secret ingredients.
“I can tell you that the sausages are made from Canadian produced pork from western Canada and we use a specific quality spice blend and there are no additives or preservatives,” says Shane. The classic mild and hot pork sausage remains the popular best-sellers but then things were stepped up a notch with the addition of newer varieties.
“Customer demand has led us to introduce other flavours including turkey, chicken and beef, sundried tomato and mushroom, extra hot, mozzarella and garlic,” says Shane. He says while it is the flavour that keeps people coming back, it is also menu convenience as sausages are something that fewer people put the effort into making, themselves.
“It is a versatile meat in that people will BBQ them or even use the sausage meat in pasta sauces,” he says. “We also have a large Italian population in our customer base and they are accustomed to sausages in their meals.”
One thing that is missing, however, is the normally ever-present sausage wagon, which could be found parked out front.
“The pandemic created some challenges, so we opted not to run the wagon last summer,” he says, adding that is had also been a popular past fundraiser for Rotaryfest, which was also cancelled, along with Pino’s Charity Golf Tournament, among others.
With travel limitations in place, it would appear that former Saultites craving a Pino’s Italian sausage may have to wait a bit longer to savour the flavour but Shane says no.
“For anyone in southwestern Ontario, we have a partner store in Kitchener who makes our same sausages,” says Shane. Mike Williamson owns the location (Central Fresh Market) and may be a familiar name to Saultites who shopped at the former Loeb’s, in the Sault’s west end, where he was manager.
“Mike formed a business relationship with Ben and he felt he was the right guy to take over that location.”
Pino’s get fresh continues to be open as an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic. All health and safety protocols, in the 45,000 square foot store, are in place.
“We really want to thank our customers for their on-going support and want to assure them that we are following all protocols to ensure that they have a comfortable shopping experience during these trying times,” says Shane.
Pino’s get fresh is located at 219 Trunk Road. Check out their weekly flyer at pinosgetfresh.com.