And Nedo Puliti is supplying that on Main Street
When you look at the picture that headlines this blog, the last thing that comes to mind is, "hey, that guy looks Italian." I know, I know, but truth be told, I'm 1/4 Italian. My best quarter, my grandfather would say. He said and taught me alot. Guido Augustino Baroncelli, whose parents hailed from Florence, passed away a year and one-half ago, his 93 years filled with fun, adventure, laughter, and, most of all, good food. His homemade sauce (my wife's family is from elswhere in Italy and calls it gravy and you can too) is the best I've ever tasted; I frequently make a copy that isn't bad, but can't compare to Guido's.
Given that history, it is always with a little trepidation that I try Italian food out, as my heritage, allegiance, and my grandfather's spirit compel me to compare the food to Guido's, and I am frequently disappointed. Such was not the case this week when I stepped out for my latest Falmouth restaurant review and wound up at A Slice of Italy, a deli, grocery store, and eatery at 890 Main Street in Falmouth, ironically located in a plaza just across from Staples, Starbucks, and Christmas Tree Shops, as there is nothing chain-store or routine about this little treasure.
Upon entering the store, you are greeted with wonderful aromas of simmering treats, and the scents are a wonderful prelude to things to come. The walls are lined with specialty Italian groceries and pastas, things you will not find in any supermarket. Real pastries, imported from New York, call to you from a deli case off to the side, as do fresh specialty Italian cold cuts, (my Mom swears by the rosemary ham) brought in from the North End.
At the center of it all is owner Nedo Puliti, scurrying around and working the deli himself. Customers can choose from a variety of hot dishes or a traditional sandwich, all prepared to order. I was accompanied, as always, on this review with local innkeeper and edible flower expert Donna Stone, and we both left full, happy and satisfied, eagerly awaiting our next visit.
I had a chicken parm sandwich and savored it like I had never enjoyed chicken parm before. No pre-pressed chicken patty in this authentic Italian eatery! The chicken was real breaded boneless breast, sliced before my eyes by Nedo himself, then neatly placed in an Italian roll with layers of cheese, and, of course, my choice of piping hot marinara or meatsauce. I chose the meatsauce and Guido would be proud. It had supple chunks of flavorful beef and was tasty and tangy without any bitterness that sometimes creeps into homemade sauce. (Guido would tell you to add a little sugar and some pork). The chicken itself could have been a little hotter, but the flavor and quantity more than made up for that minor setback.
My sidekick had the Italian wedding soup, which was, according to this not-so-easy-to-please critic, piping hot, delicious, and loaded with tasty pastina and mini-meatballs. It had just enough flavor to appreciate, but not so much spice as to overpower. She also had a slice of pizza with onions which I tried. The crust was thick and crunchy, a tough but admirable combination. The sauce, once again, had great flavor and virtually no acidity, and the cheese was portioned perfectly so as not to take over the pizza.
As we sat in the cozy eating area, a steady stream of customers filed in and out, ordering everything from ziti with meatballs, to soup, to pints of sauce to take home and pass off as homemade (Nice to see you, Wayne Soares!). Every customer left with a smile - the prices are as fantastic as the food.
I tried a sandwich here well over a year ago, and was underwhelmed with the portions for what I paid. Boy, am I glad I came back for a second try over a year later, because this is one Italian spot I would recommend to even the staunchest fan of Guido's home cooking!
Them menu offers a large selection of items for catering as well - something to think about for next week's big game! Their phone is 508-495-1106.
At the bottom of the menu, there is a saying: "Big enough to serve you - small enough to know you." I plan on getting to know Nedo Puliti and his wife Kathy, as their "Slice of Italy" is a slice worth savoring again and again.