About Us

Sonia & Dustin
The sole owners and operators of Monte Nero! photo by Paradise Studios, Memphis
Monte Nero is a small family business owned and operated by Sonia & Dustin Rambo. The idea that sparked Monte Nero began in 2010. After returning from a trip to Italy to visit family, we embarked on a personal journey to reconnect with our Italian heritage by exploring the rich culinary history of our ancestors. Recognizing the difficulty of finding truly authentic Italian goods in most parts of the US, we started sourcing some of our favorites and decided to help bridge that gap by sharing them with others. We believe that food has an unmatched way of connecting us to the world. We see our business as more than just a way to offer authentic products, we see it as a way to connect, to share the incredible flavors that make Italian cuisine famous, allowing us to forward the idea of food as an experience.

Sonietta & her Mamma on Mt. Etna
Sonietta & her Mamma on Mt. Etna
Sonia is a dual Italian/American citizen whose mother left her home in Sicily after falling in love with an American stationed at the nearby Naval base. Sonia spent her adolescence traveling with her family and living in various parts of the US and Italy. Some of her fondest memories are of her years growing up in the ancient city of Catania, Sicily where she was fully immersed in her mother’s culture. After returning to the US, the separation of thousands of miles of ocean left her homesick and searching for a way to remain connected to her Italian family and culture.

Dustin grew up in Memphis and, like many Americans, is the product of several nationalities. One branch of the family tree that has always remained in the dark is his Sicilian heritage. His passion for the history and culture of Italia stems directly from his personal quest to explore and reconnect with a heritage that was always out of reach.

Watching Mount Etna erupt, from Belpasso, Sicilia
Mt. Etna erupting as seen from the backyard in Belpasso, late 1970’s

The Black Mountain

The name Monte Nero means black mountain and pays homage to Mt. Etna, a stratovolcano on the east coast of Sicily near Catania. Mt. Etna has the longest recorded history of any volcano and is considered sacred by those within its proximity. Many mythological stories are centered around this legendary site; the Ancient Romans first used the term “volcano” to refer to Etna as the forge of the fire god Vulcan. Sicilians possess a strong sentimentality towards this volcano, revering its power and beauty, and its ability to not only enrich the fertility of the soil but to infuse the food grown on its slopes with a taste unlike any other.