Founded in 1898, by Antonio Gasbarro, the great grandfather of current owner, Mark Gasbarro, Gasbarro’s Wines has grown to be a premium wine shop with an extensive collection specializing in wines from around the world, but with a distinct focus on collections from Italy and California.
In 1891, Antonio immigrated to Rhode Island from Falvaterra, Italy. He married Enrica Andreozzi and settled in Barrington, RI. In the fall of 1898, he opened Gasbarro’s Liquors on Knight Street which served as an outlet for whiskey and bourbon straight from the barrel. They also featured six different homemade wines. Today, the store has amassed an inventory of more than 2,400 products, 1,800 of which are wine.
In 1903, Gasbarro's moved to 481 Atwells Avenue, in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence. On Friday and Saturday afternoons, Gasbarro's would stack 100 cases of Narragansett Beer street for purchase. The store quickly became a neighborhood staple. During Prohibition, Gasbarro's converted itself into a malt and hop shop, also selling wine making equipment. By the time prohibition was repealed, Antonio had several sons involved in the business. Ugo, Antonio’s oldest son took on more responsibility at the store, along with his other siblings. The business had also grown to include a small store-front for retail as well as a separate warehouse for wholesale. Gasbarro's really started to evolve in the 1950s and 1960s with the expansion of the store’s imported wine selection. Ugo began traveling regularly to Europe to search for new and exciting wines to add to the growing selections. In the late 1960s, Ugo’s son, Lombard, joined with the store, and the decision was made to concentrate their wine selections from vineyards in Italy. They may have been ahead of their time, but because of their perseverance, Gasbarro's today is recognized as one of the top retailers of Italian wine in the country.
In 1973, a highway relocation project forced the store make its final move to 361 Atwells Avenue. After Ugo’s passing in 1981, Lombard carried on the store's legacy and reputation. The decision was also made to dissolve the wholesale division and focus on the retail store.
Continuing in his family’s footsteps, at the age of 16, Lombard’s son Mark began working in the store. In 2002, Lombard had left his son what some would say is the finest collection of Italian wines and spirits in the United States. Mark wishes to continue building the legacy that has been passed down to him as well as continue to educate himself about new wineries both abroad and on American soil. Today, to complement the store’s Italian wine selection of over 800 labels, Gasbarro’s features more than 400 Californian wines. Together, they make up over 80% of sales.