Lina Stores

Meet the Makers

Meet the Makers: La Sovrana

At Lina Stores we are very lucky to partner with a number of producers and suppliers both in Italy and the UK who bring the best quality products to our restaurants and delicatessens. La Sovrana, a UK- and Italy-based produce business, is the perfect example of a business bridging the gap between both countries. Entirely family-run, La Sovrana started on a farm in Battipaglia, Campania, and travelled all the way to New Covent Garden Market in London to work tirelessly to source the best seasonal fruit, vegetables and cheeses for us.

We had the pleasure of visiting our friends at La Sovrana at New Covent Garden Market where they not only invited us with open arms but also sent us away with enough mozzarella and tomatoes to last the week! We spoke to Alfonso Picaro, the Director of La Sovrana, who told us all about their story, their produce and his favourite Lina Stores dish!

Tell us a little bit about La Sovrana. What inspired you to start La Sovrana? When was it set up and where are you located?

La Sovrana was born in 2011 in Battipaglia in South Italy only twenty minutes from the Amalfi coast. We are a family-run business and the third generation of growers, who started with just one farm in Campania.

I have always been passionate about trading, and we had some difficulties with our farm in Italy, so when I heard about the wonderful opportunities that the English market could offer us, I decided to move La Sovrana to London. I began as a packer for another Italian company and slowly began to introduce our products to them. I started working in the market in May and sent my first load all the way to London in August. At this time, we produced mainly rocket, parsley, fennel and beautiful Amalfi lemons.

I then began trading solely in markets as an agent for our farm, selling products to wholesalers around London. However, when COVID hit and all the restaurants closed, I purchased a small van and went from shop to shop trying to sell our products. I went from selling half a palette to driving around with a full lorry of Italian produce all in the space of a couple of months. Some shops were even ringing us two to three times a day because they were running out of our stuff!

We now supply around one hundred and twenty restaurants and shops with our delicious fruit, vegetables and cheeses.

You are a small family-run business - tell us a little bit more about your values and how the family dynamic contributes to your success.

My brother and I are the third generation of traders in our family. Along with my team, I am in charge of managing the company on this side, while my brother oversees our farm in Battipaglia while also collaborating with farms in other parts of Italy to source the best seasonal produce for us. Our main values are quality and trust. We take great care in ensuring that we only source the highest quality products as this is what is most important to us as well as giving the best service and consultation to our customers. We truly believe in quality over everything else.

If you could choose a favourite product of yours, what would it
be and why?

Our pride and joy is the Amalfi Lemons! After six years there are people who call them Sovrana lemons and not Amalfi anymore so we are very glad to spread the best quality and that people identify us with a very high standard. As well as having our own small orchard, my brother visits the Amalfi coast where we buy and harvest the lemons ourselves. These are easily one of our best sellers and are used in many of the dishes at Lina Stores, such as the Spaghetti alla Chitarra with Amalfi Lemons, Pink Peppercorns and Grana Padano.

You supply us with a lot of different produce here at Lina Stores, what are these and, to your knowledge, what dishes do we use them for?

The main produce that we supply Lina Stores with are fruit and vegetables as well as some fresh cheeses. Some of the products that you use at Lina Stoers include the Amalfi lemons in Spaghetti alla Chitarra dish with Amalfi Lemons, Pink Peppercorns and Grana Padano. You also use our beautiful Datterini tomatoes for the Burrata Ravioli with Datterini Tomatoes, Pinenuts and Basil. Our Buffalo Burrata is also currently available on your antipasti menu too!

When they are on the menu, we also provide Lina Stores with aubergines for your Aubergine Polpette. We work very closely with the Lina Stores team to ensure that we are providing products that are in season and at the best stage of production.

What is your favourite thing about working with Lina Stores/do you have any memorable moments working with us??

I remember getting a phone call from Lina Stores and was overcome with emotion when I was told that you wanted to work with us here at La Sovrana! Lina Stores is such an instituion and a real home away from home for an Italian like me so it was the perfect match! From the beginning we have always had a great relationship and I speak to your chefs often. It really is a pleasure to work alongside a team of people who are always a step ahead and push us to be the best we can possibly be.

Interested in trying La Sovrana's produce?