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Caviar Impresario


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Photography courtesy of Diablo Imaging

Mark Bolourchi emerges from the back of his caviar shop, Palace of Fine Foods, wearing a white lab coat over his business jacket, blue surgical booties over his shiny black shoes, and a plastic shower cap over his tuft of gray hair—his usual outfit for packaging the caviar he sells. He points inside a storage refrigerator at his Pittsburg shop. “There’s about one million dollars worth of caviar in here,” he says.

Palace of Fine Foods sends up to 200 shipments a day to Michelin-starred restaurants, major corporations, and movie stars all over the country. A luxury food shop may seem an unlikely addition to down-home Pittsburg, but it fits in nicely with the city’s development plans. Several such stores are on the way, including E.J. Phair Brewing Company. “We like the wholesale-retail combination,” says Marc Grisham, Pittsburg’s city manager.

As for Bolourchi, he has been running his wholesale operation in Martinez for 25 years. But last October, he opened his first retail space, where shoppers can check out a caviar collection that includes $7 an ounce Alaskan salmon roe—what you get on sushi—$75 an ounce black sturgeon roe farmed in Uruguay, and $175 an ounce Osetra Iran Gold from the (overfished) Caspian Sea. You can schedule a private tasting with champagne, but watch out, such sampling isn’t cheap—tastings start at $200 and can range into the thousands.

Palace of Fine Foods, 675 Railroad Ave., Pittsburg, (925) 252-9700, www.plazadecaviar.com.

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