Ratto’s International Market & Deli is located on 821 Washington Street in the heart of Downtown Oakland, California, just a few blocks from the Oakland City Center BART station.
We are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm.
During business hours, we can be reached by phone at (510) 832-6503 or (510) 836-2250.
Giovanni Battista Ratto was born in the province of Alessandria, in 1868. At the age of 13, inflamed with the spirit of emigration, he sailed as a cabin boy on a four masted schooner; destination: Buenos Aires.
He received his his first inspiration about South America from his sister Virginia. For several years, she’d been living there with her husband, a cattleman named Croce. With the help of the Croces, Giovanni became a Gaucho.
A popular word of that period which seemed to fit the energetic and restless young Ratto was Argonaut, meaning, “adventurer engaged in a quest.” Most likely his quest was entrepreneurial and perhaps that’s why the Bay area appealed to him.
Soon after arriving in Northern California he had another stroke of good luck—he met a prominent produce farmer named Garbarino who gave him a job. One of Ratto’s chief responsibilities was to cater to the produce needs of the most luxurious restaurants and hotels in pre-quake San Francisco.
During that period, he married Rose Garbarino, the boss’ beautiful daughter. Eventually they had four daughters and a son.
Still searching for his niche, the always enthusiastic Giovanni took a very positive interest in the East Side of the Bay. Documents on file at the Oakland Museum show that he was one of the founders of the Colombo Bakery. After running that business for seven years, he decided on a new venture: he’d buy and operate a retail food store on lower Washington Street in Oakland.
Because the area was loaded with run–of-the-mill grocery stores, Giovanni decided to feature imported foodstuffs; in other words, right from the opening day of his enterprise, Ratto’s became an international grocery, a one-stop store to satisfy the craving for Old World cuisines.
Today, this unique International Grocery is widely accepted as a bustling memorial to its founder, Giovanni Battista Ratto, an Italian immigrant who initiated some truly enduring principles in customer relations. How else could the store, still run by his descendants, have thrived through revolutions in retail marketing, several recessions, a major depression, a four-alarm fire in 1974, and a 7.1 earthquake in 1989?
Oakland Turns Over a New Leaf – Wall Street Journal, September 16, 2010
The Grocery List: Ratto’s Deli and International Market, Oakland – Italy in SF, September 8, 2008
Oakland Market’s Fabulous Feasts – OpenRoad.TV with Doug McConnell
Best of the Best – Destination Oakland Food and Drink – VisitOakland, September 10, 2007
A Tour of Old Oakland – Bay Area Bites, July 31, 2005
An East Bay Top Spot for Imported Foods – San Francisco Chronicle, June 10, 1998