Since she was a child, Angela Flora’s favorite day of the year has always been Christmas Eve. Not so much for the Christmas lights turning a greyscale sky into rainbows of the night, or the oversized ornaments, but for spending time in the kitchen with her dad, John Flora. She loved Feast of the Seven Fishes, an Italian-American Christmas Eve celebration where she learned to bake shrimp, clams, Alaskan king crab legs, linguine and Italian donuts with powdered sugar. She realized early that family traditions stood for hope for future years.
Born into a poor family of tailors in Bari, Italy, John Flora arrived in the U.S. on December 17, 1962. Impoverished and not speaking English, he grew up in the predominately Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst in Brooklyn, New York, and aspired to the American Dream.
While in New York, he earned an education and realized authentic Italian food was on every corner. That was until 1972, when during a vacation along the sparkling high-rises and waves of blue-white lace hitting the Miami Beach shores, John realized he couldn’t find any authentic pizza anywhere.
This led him to eventually open a pizza parlor in 1972, and the success of the pizza parlor fueled expansion with Flora’s Italian Restaurant in Hollywood. After 40 years in business, Flora Fine Foods has a headquarters in Coral Springs. The 60,000-square-foot distribution facility servicing supermarkets, Italian grocers and specialty food stores across the country offers authentic Italian ingredients.
John Flora’s children embraced the family business. When daughter Angela isn’t with her two Chihuahuas, Romeo Luciano Flora and Charlie Lorenzo Flora, or munching on her favorite Chicken Francese, she is the brand ambassador for Flora Fine Foods and Orvino Wine Imports.
The South Florida native, who regularly visits Italy, works more on the Orvino Wine side, which is still under the Flora family name. Angela is responsible for organizing Flora events, getting Flora products to food and wine festivals and training the sales reps.
“There’s three of us in the business,” said Angela Flora. “Me and my two brothers, John Flora Jr. and Christopher Flora. They are CFO and CIO of the company. They are primarily on the food side.”
The food side offers genuine Italian ingredients like the sweet smell of basil filling your nose or authentic noodles lapped with chunky tomato sauce. Flora Fine Foods offers a variety of pastas, cheeses, cakes, vegetables and more that make one’s mouth water.
“Everything that we do within the company is made in Italy,” said Angela. “All our products, and everything we import directly from Italy. We distribute in the United States; we also do some export now and distribute Flora foods to Panama, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico.”
Along with imported Italian grocery items like sauces, olive oils, pasta, canned tomatoes and baked goods, the Coral Springs spot takes its Italian specialties to supermarkets and groceries throughout South Florida including Publix, Winn-Dixie, Bravo, Doris Italian Market & Bakery and more.
“Walking into our facility, I’m amazed at just the amount of products we have,” said Angela. “All the different varieties that we carry, and our portfolio is very big and tries to reach every consumer who is out there and to try and reach everyone’s needs.”
The warehouse and distribution company also plans on opening an Italian deli. Also, caramel halo rims with a sweet golden crumb will be a welcoming scent.
“We just brought all the stuff where we’ll be baking the cookies on-site,” said Angela. “All those Flora cookies that you see at the grocery store are going to be made on-site in our building. I think moving forward, we’ll be walking in and smelling amazing baked goods and doing other things like fresh-made pastas and sauces.”
With Flora Fine Foods offering the real deal, they also feature a diverse range of recipes and items for restricted diets.
“The recipe for Pasta Fagioli soup is on our website and you can use all the Flora ingredients to make it,” said Angela. “We have different codes and seals like our San Marzano tomato from this region in Italy. We’re also constantly evolving like launching a new gluten-free line that was highly accepted at the food festivals.”
The Flora family doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The Coral Springs location also plans on having an Eataly, a market with different small station restaurants within it.
“The owner who runs it and started it is really Italian and is a chef,” said Angela. “His recipes go into our sauce. My grandmother’s recipes that were passed down to him are also in our things. We have an amazing wine collection, and since I was young, since our Christmas Eve tradition, we’ve been consistently evolving to have better and the best ingredients.”