If you like cheese, you’ll be happy to learn that Newport’s cheese scene is about to get a major upgrade: Mozz (pronounced “mots”) is slated to open in Bellevue Gardens Shopping Center in February 2022 and will offer fresh mozzarella di Bufala made daily, as well as other cheeses, breads, and imported Italian specialty items.
The soon-to-open Italian cheesemaking destination, owned by husband-and-wife team Luca & Christina Mignogna, has already excited local turophiles throughout Newport County. The Mignonas vision for Mozz is to be a “lab” of sorts, bringing ongoing cheesemaking education to the space in addition to pasta making, pizza making, fresh bread, and a traditional Italian market.
The Mignonas bring many years of caseiculture (the craft of cheesemaking) and culinary expertise to Mozz. Luca, who grew up making cheese alongside his grandfather in the Molise region of Italy, worked as a professor for 6 years at the BCAE teaching artisanal cheesemaking and has worked in 5-star luxury hotel kitchens around the world. He founded Wolf Meadow Farm in 2011, and with the help of Christina, moved the operation to Amesbury, MA where they built and grew a state-of-the-art Italian creamery that supplied Italian-style cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta to residents and restaurants in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Christina, who has a business and restaurant management background, focuses on managing all aspects of the business side of cheesemaking.
Christina tells us Mozz is slated to open in February, but with COVID-19 still in the picture, that could change. For now, you can get a head start on your fresh Fromage at Mozz’s online store by subscribing to their Cheese of the Month Club (shipping starts in March 2022) or signing up for a Cheesemaking Workshop (dates TBA).
We had a chance to ask Christina a few questions about the upcoming opening of Mozz. Read on to learn more.
Who are the owners of Mozz and what is their connection to Aquidneck Island?
We live here on Aquidneck Island and are happy to call this place home since 2020. My father grew up in RI, so we made our way here to be closer to family.
What is the vision for the store and what types of products will be in stock?
The vision for the store is a lab; a work in progress. Clients will be able to stop and view cheesemaking, pizza making, and pasta making, or simply come for a quick coffee or a quick bite to go. Perhaps guests visit only for the Italian market, or for fresh bread. Coming into the store is meant to bring you back to your favorite bustling Italian markets. The mozzarella will be made fresh daily, reminiscent of caseifici in Italy.
Mozz’s Shop page lists cheese-making and pasta-making workshops. Can you tell us more about these?
Sure! Education has always been an important part of what we do. And sharing that is just as important to us. These cheesemaking and pasta-making classes allow us all to reconnect to the source of taking simple ingredients and transporting them to sustenance for your day.
What inspired the owner(s) to open an artisanal Italian cheese and bread shop?
Mozzarella is my husband Luca’s first love, and so cheesemaking for him became a way to recreate the beauty of the mozzarella when he was unable to find something comparable in the US. And everything sort of blossomed from there. The bread came into the picture because it’s a natural lifelong friend of cheese.
Why did you choose Bellevue Gardens as the location for Mozz?
It’s a prime, well-kept location with lots of parking! We are thrilled to be right in the heart of the city, with great complimentary neighbors all around us. Honestly, this place showed up before I think we were ready to open, but everything sort of fell into place as if it were all meant to be.
When is the store expected to open?
February 2022, assuming all goes according to plan!
How has COVID impacted plans for Mozz and the opening date?
COVID feels like the reason for everything these days! It’s clear supply chain management has been affected for all businesses around the world. COVID has also helped us, though, to be more creative in the way we reach people’s palates, through online sales, Cheese of the Month Clubs sent directly to your door, or simply our anticipated order-online-and-pick-up-in-store model. If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain. We will keep moving in our guided direction and continue to be flexible and adaptable as best as we can while being grateful to the community for their support.