Photo from left: Chamber Ambassador Melissa Kelly (AAA Northway); Chamber Ambassador Tonia Brownell (Holiday Inn); County Legislator Angelo Santabarbara; Assemblyman Jim Tedisco; Jeanette Massaro; Chamber of Schenectady County President Chuck Steiner; Upper Union Street Chairman Chris DiCocco.

New Italian specialty shop Bel Cibo – Italian for “fine foods”  – celebrated its opening with a ribbon cutting today.  Bel Cibo is located at 1740 Union Street, Schenectady, in the Upper Union Street Business District.

“After a landmark birthday and watching my son head off to college, I decided to reinvent myself,” said owner Jeanette Massaro. “So I invested my savings to create a dream. Upper Union Street was the perfect location for the kind of business I wanted to have. I love the collection of one-of-a-kind stores, and there is such a sense of community here.”

Bel Cibo has a wide variety of international specialty foods including small-batch pastas, chutneys, artisanal chocolates, organic spices, finishing sauces, nut-free candy and cookies, fair-trade items and giftware. One of Massaro’s favorite items is “The Smoked Olive,” original Sonoma smoked olive oil made famous by Tyler Florence of the Food Network.

In addition to per-piece retail shopping, themed and custom gift baskets are available. Bel Cibo also hosts spice parties which allow the participants to create their own spice blends from the wide variety of bulk spices the shop carries. If you need a little help creating, there are more than 30 spice mix recipes from which to choose. “Bring your friends, sip some wine, taste some cheese, mix your own spices and shop the store for 15 percent off,” invites Massaro. Spice parties do require advanced reservations.

I’m loving the idea of a spice party!!  I am in desperate need of some new spices – mine are getting old and losing their oomph.  Plus I don’t get out much and could really use a social life.  I am also loving the idea of that smoked olive.