Written by Anne Blue
When Tony D’Eugenio, the former owner and founder of Giulianova– Italian Groceria, died in the spring of 2004, many in Westminster mourned, not just for the loss of a beloved friend to the community, but because his establishment was a place where passion about politics was dished out as heartily as Italian meatballs in red sauce.
Would Giulianova continue to have the cream of crab soup, lasagna, or cannolis that became the business’ trademark specialties? It didn’t take long for folks to realize that even though D’Eugenio was no longer there, what he loved to share remained.
The gregarious owner of the establishment, Billy Schroeder, has joyfully breathed new life into this Main Street business while remaining faithful to Tony D’Eugenio’s legacy. Like D’Eugenio, Schroeder is almost always behind the counter doling out food and friendship in the small town atmosphere of Westminster. When Schroeder bought the store, the deal included all the recipes that customers love.
“When we started talking about the sale, I told Tony I wanted to keep the name and the recipes the same,” said Schroeder. “I wanted Tony to work alongside me for a couple of months to ease the transition, and every door that needed to open, did,” including Giulianova as his own on July 23, 2003.
To the satisfaction of both men, the original name remains and the Italian foods – the soups, lasagnas, stuffed shells, and eggplant parmesan – are still made using the same fresh ingredients and time-tested recipes.
“We make everything from scratch, the way your grandmother did it,” said Schroeder. “My customers may pay a little more, but we use fresh ingredients and make great food.”
Giulianova is a multi-tasker’s paradise. Customers can queue up for a made-to-order deli sandwich or a steamy cup of homemade soup, mail a letter at the post office window, pick up a pan of lasagna or stuffed shells for dinner, or purchase Italian sausages, olive oils, imported cheeses, and other fine foods and ingredients.
When Diane King needs parmesan cheese or Italian sausage to grill, she knows there is only one place to go: Giulianova, the Italian Groceria, on Main Street in Westminster.
“I love that store,” said King. “It has spoiled [my family]. I can’t buy specialty items anywhere else. We tried Italian sausage from the regular grocery store recently, but no one in my family liked it.”
King has been coming to Giulianova since it opened on Westminster’s Main Street in 1986, and she still shops at the store several times a month. Back then, she used to stop in with two small toddlers and a baby in a stroller. She could get her favorite pastas, cheeses, and deli items and her kids could enjoy an ice cream cone while they all chatted with Tony D’Eugenio and his wife Kay, the original owners and founders of the store.
Billy Schroeder also became a Giulianova customer back in 1986. He moved to Westminster that year and was working as an executive chef at Martin’s. One of the other chefs had a cousin who was in a band that often played at Martin’s. The cousin, Tony D’Eugenio, was a musician and a band member, but also a chef and a comedian. During the evening, he would poke his head into the Martin’s kitchen to trade jokes and check on the cooking.
Turns out he was starting a new business, an Italian groceria in downtown Westminster. Tony D’Eugenio invited Schroeder to his new shop, and Schroeder became a frequent customer, and as he moved around to various jobs in the food industry over the years, he continued to stop in. When Tony was looking for a buyer in 2003, it seemed only natural for him to talk to Schroeder; he was a fellow chef, a loyal customer, and a man who appreciated good food and the value and charm of a Main Street business.
“Tony wanted an aggressive new owner; I wanted to keep the foundations of the business and build on them,” said Schroeder. In his first two years as owner, Schroeder has significantly increased the store inventory, created an advertising budget, and gone from about $80,000 in sales to more than $150,000. He has one full-time and one part-time employee.
Schroeder recently catered a large party for Evelyn McLaughlin at her farmhouse on four acres.
“I hosted about 150 guests at my home for a party after my daughter’s wedding reception,” said McLaughlin. “Billy worked with me to come up with just the right menu. We put our heads together and traded suggestions. He was wonderful.”
The result of their planning was a menu including easy-to-eat and delicious food – cold pasta with shrimp, tortellini salad, tossed salad. “It was a lovely menu and everyone raved about the food,” said McLaughlin.
Schroeder takes pride in offering such personal service. “We pay attention to the details and, with catering jobs, customers deal directly with me, the chef.”
In addition to increasing inventory and advertising and keeping loyal customers, Schroeder is drawing attention with fresh ideas. In July he held his first cooking class. For $20, each participant could enjoy an evening of good food, learning, and fun. Initially, Schroeder wanted a way to bring people into his store on Ladies Night Out, held the first Thursday of each month in downtown Westminster.
“I scheduled my first cooking class in July and 21 people showed up,” said Schroeder. “I made Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Marsala.”
He distributed recipes and prepared the dishes while offering cooking tips and answering questions. Downtown coworkers Cindy and Brenda, who requested that their last names be withheld, attended the inaugural cooking class.
“I walked over from our office to the post office in Giulianova and Billy told me about the cooking class,” said Cindy. “I rushed back to work, told Brenda, and we called him right back to get on the list.” “Billy made it a great evening,” said Cindy. “I didn’t expect it, but he had snack items and wine and we got to eat what we cooked. My favorite was the Chicken Marsala. I would recommend it to anyone.” Brenda shares her officemate’s enthusiasm. “The cooking class was a lot of fun. Billy did a great job. He talked his way through the recipes and gave us little tidbits of information, insights into the cooking,” she said. “He made it look easy, made you feel comfortable with the recipe. Without his tips, I wouldn’t attempt to make shrimp scampi on my own at home.”
Schroeder plans to offer a series of cooking classes this fall, featuring such dishes as stuffed soft shell crabs, Maryland lump crab cakes, and saffron risotto.
Grand Marnier Holiday Ham
8 – 12 pound Hahn’s cured whole ham (boneless or bone-in;
shank or butt portion)
2 cups Grand Marnier liqueur
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups orange juice
1 20 ounce can pineapple, sliced in rings
Food injector (available at most cooking stores)
1.) Mix one cup of Grand Marnier
liqueur with brown sugar and orange
juice. Set aside.
2.) Using 1 cup of the Grand Marnier,
slowly inject the ham. Continue
injecting it in different spots all over
the ham until the whole cup of liqueur
is used. Some of the liqueur should
ooze out of the ham.
3.) With a sharp paring knife, score the
ham by slicing across it in opposite
diagonals. Cut into the ham about 1/4
– 3/8 of an inch.
4.) Lay about five pineapple rings on
the ham. Stick whole cloves through
the rings to adhere them to the ham,
about four cloves per pineapple ring.
5.) Spread the remainder of the
pineapple slices onto the bottom of a
large sheet of heavy duty aluminum
foil. Sprinkle with more cloves.
6.) Lay the ham on top of the pineapple
slices and baste with the Grand Marnier,
brown sugar, and orange mixture using
the basting brush.
7.) Wrap the ham tightly with the
aluminum foil, making sure there are
no leaks. Place ham in a roasting pan
with a rack.
8.) Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheidt ,
allowing 15 minutes per pound of ham
(2 hours for a 10 pound ham).
9.) Raise the oven temperature to 425.
Open the sealed aluminum foil and
baste ham with basting mixture. Leave
the foil open and re-baste ham every
5 minutes for 20 minutes.
10.) Take ham out of the oven and let
it rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.