Zia Pia combines the best local foods and Italian imports into one do-it-yourself dinner box

Zia Pia combines the best local foods and Italian imports into one do-it-yourself dinner box
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Subscription dinner boxes are nothing new. Concepts like Plated and Blue Apron have blown up around the country with their end-to-end meal solutions delivered straight to customers’ doors complete with recipes and perfectly portioned ingredients. The combination of convenience and culinary exploration appeals to people who want to learn to cook but without trying too hard.

Now one team in Charlotte wants to carve out a specialty niche in the subscription meal box market by curating its own collection of imported artisanal Italian goods and locally sourced foods. Victoria Custodi Zabel, owner of Zia Pia Imports, says it’s all about simplicity and quality ingredients.

Victoria Zabel Zia Pia

Zia Pia is a boutique importer of Italian foods with a wholesale line of business that serves stores, markets and restaurants across the country as well as a retail shop that opened at 7th Street Public Market in September 2014. They rolled out their delivery dinner boxes this past October and Zabel says they’ve been well received.

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At $80/box, Zia Pia boxes aren’t exactly cheap. But with ingredients for two recipes per box yielding 6 meals each, you end up at about $6.60 per meal, which is actually cheaper than Blue Apron and Plated whose meals run $9.99 – $12 each.

But… you’d have to like pasta a lot to eat all of this yourself. This box is best shared with a friend (or several), which also makes it cheaper.

Zia Pia dinner box

Zabel travels to Italy once or twice a year as well as to food shows throughout the U.S. to source products from small, usually family-owned producers. She also works with local farms to round out the meal boxes with fresh produce and cheeses from places like Rosemary Pete and Orman’s Cheese Shop.

Zia Pia Charlotte

I made my first Zia Pia meal last week. It was a simple pasta e fagioli with gluten-free noodles and a vegan option if you omit the cheese.

zia pia meal box

Although “pasta and beans” is a straightforward staple meal in Italy, I choked under the pressure of the high-quality ingredients I was working with here.

Just look at these beautiful beans begging me not to ruin them…

zia pia charlotte

I didn’t ruin the beans but I did undercook the pasta (amateur), which is a pretty important part of the dish.

I still thought it turned out pretty well. My fiance was possibly less amused with my kitchen antics but he still ate it.

zia pia pasta e fagioli

My first meal flop was user error but I’d give Zia Pia another go because I like the adventure of cooking something I’ve never prepared before (with expensive ingredients I’d otherwise never splurge on) and the accessibility of having it all laid out for me in one place.

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