Top Italian Delis and Markets: Northern New Jersey

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Thanks to CityMama for the photo of an Italian specialty shop in Roma. Unlike Italian restaurants in the US, Italian specialty shops in American are often very authentic.

When folks find out we publish articles on authentic Italian recipes and food and live in the New York metropolitan area the inevitable question follows: can you give me a recommendation on a good Italian restaurant?  The short answer is no and for several reasons:  1. we don’t believe our area (northern NJ) has many, if any, solid Italian restaurants (outside of the typical Italian American restaurant you can find throughout much of the country), 2. New York City is a mecca for proper Italian restaurants and any serious eater should venture into the Borough of Manhattan to consume already prepared Italian meals. and 3., what the NYC metro area (and specifically southeastern Bergen County and the surrounding areas) has is an abundance of well stocked, well run, and highly authentic Italian specialty shops offering imported and domestic salumi and cheeses, olives, dry goods (e.g, pasta, rice, beans,  etc.), extra virgin olive oil, red wine and balsamic vinegar, homemade breads, fruits and vegetables, house made sausage, house made pastas and stuffed pastas such as ravioli, tortellini, etc., canned tuna, sardines, and anchovies, and other imported Italian specialty products and delicacies.  So, we often tell our fans skip the Italian restaurants in New Jersey and just head for the Top Italian Delis and Markets: Northern New Jersey; it’s the most authentic way to eat like an Italian the US (at least in New Jersey!).

In turn, here are some of our favorite Italian specialty shops and markets in northern New Jersey with a particular emphasis on what the given shop does very well (excluding already prepared foods which we group into the Italian American restaurant scene).  Moreover, each of the shops have excellent service, very knowledgeable staff, and take pride in only offering the very best products (all key attributes of any good market):

Piccolo’s Gastronomia Italiana
484 Bergen Blvd.
Ridgefield, NJ 07657
Tel: (201) 313-0200
http://www.piccolosgastronomia.com/

Piccolo’s is situated across the street from an Armenian church and right next to the popular restaurant Tutto il Modo Mio in Ridgefield, NJ.  Piccolo’s has one of the finest salumi deli cases in the region and they are experts at cutting and packaging whatever cured pork you’re craving.  The shop is well run, organized, and packed with most any Italian specialty product you can think of; including a modest fruit and vegetable section.  The shop has a particular focus in cheese, dry pastas, extra virgin olive oil, and even household Italian products such as pots, pans, shampoos, kitchen utensils, etc.  The only caveat is that the staff behind the counter are a bit slow given how much they love to talk to their customers (this isn’t a bad thing, but, at times, you just want your prosciutto)

Cafasso’s Fairway Market
1214 Anderson Ave. Fort Lee, NJ 07024
Phone: 201-224-7900, 201-224-7159
http://www.cafassosfairwaymkt.com/

There’s no relationship with the ever expanding Fairway Market based in NYC, though Fairway Market NJ was involved with some nasty litigation over the mega chain in NYC expanding into NJ (specifically Paramus).   Nevertheless, our loyalty is with Cafasso’s Fairway Market in NJ and for good reason.  The small, but very well run, market is stocked with the best (and I mean best with a capital “B”) fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese (more on this later), and salumi (including meats from wonderful domestic producers like Creminelli, Far Mani, La Quercia, etc.) in all of NJ.  In fact, if we relegated our shopping to just one shop it would be Fairway Market.  We especially like the house made whole milk mozzarella (in our opinion, the best in the northern NJ) which is made every few hours given that we never purchased a piece that wasn’t still warm.  The market also carries the most diverse bread selection in any market I’ve seen in the US, including bread from Sullivan Street, Balthazar, Il Forno, etc.  The fish and meat counters are top notch and the fruit and vegetables leave Whole Foods in the dust.  The staff works their butt off stocking and maintaining shelves and is courteous even under the watchful (and critical) eye of the many family members running the shop.  The best all around, Italian themed, market in northern NJ.

Jerry’s Homemade
410 South Dean Street
Englewood NJ 07631
201-871-7108
http://www.jerryshomemade.com/

Located in an industrial area of Englewood, NJ,  Jerry’s Homemade has an extensive cheese, homemade pasta (including stuffed pastas), wine, extra virgin olive oil, canned goods, and Italian home products.  The newly expanded wine area is especially noteworthy with many selections from Italy (including little known wine producing areas in southern Italy) and the staff is super helpful and knowledgeable.  The cheese selection is one of the largest in NJ and so is the homemade pasta program.  An an added bonus, the shop manages to keep prices fairly reasonable for imported specialty products.  Other noteworthy products include house cured olives, Italian waters and sodas, coffees, and varied dry goods.

Dante’s Market
311 Anderson Avenue, Fairview, NJ.
(201) 945-4610

A tiny, but vibrant, shop in a once exclusively Italian and Croation neighborhood Dante’s Market is famous for its fruit and vegetables especially in relation to price point (there are some serious bargains to be found in this bustling shop).  There’s a small deli at the back of the shop that offers a decent selection of salumi, including fresh bread and some Italian specialty products.  Dante’s is particular famous for ordering hundreds of bushels of local NJ plum and roma tomatoes for the many Italians in the surrounding areas who can tomatoes for making tomato sauce.

Valente Bakery
169 Anderson Ave, Fairview, NJ.
http://www.valentestrattoria.com

Just a few blocks south of Dante’s Market you’ll find Valente Bakery and their excellent coal fired breads.  The tiny storefront also produces some of the top whole milk mozzarella in the area which is nicely salted if not a bit on the large side (fresh mozarella, in our view, should be made in small batches given that it’s best eaten the same day and does not store well in the fridge).  The shop makes their own sausage and also has a few cold cuts behind the deli case.  We like to pick up a fresh bread, a whole milk mozzarella  and some nicely sliced Prosciutto di Parma for an afternoon sandwich.  Also, if you’re in the area talk a quick walk across the street and visit the Susak Fish Market at 158 Anderson Avenue, the Croation born owner carries a wonderful selection of whole fish (including sardines, sea bass, stripe base, etc.), clams, mussels, and a good selection of varied fish fillets (the prices are good and it’s mobbed during the Christmas holiday season as it’s the place to be to secure all of your fish for the feast of the seven fishes).

DePalma Brothers
44 Bergen Boulevard Fairview, New Jersey 07022
http://www.depalmabrothers.com/

A fairly large shop with a very good deli with many Italian salumi offerings.  The shop has a good selection of Italian specialty items and has been in business for 80+ years!  Like many Italian specialty shops, they’re emphasizing more prepared foods given economic reasons but it’s a worthwhile stop on your southeastern Bergen County Italian specialty shop tour!

Clemente
120 Leuning Street
South Hackensack, NH 07606
http://www.clementeitalianbakeryusa.com/

Located in a highly industrial area of South Hackensack, NJ and right off of Route 80 is a brick oven bakery producing a huge selection of bread, including homemade pizza, focaccia Barese, “sausage bread”, zeppole, taralli, biscuits, and friselle Clementini (they’re a big whole-seller) .  The shop also has a ton of prepared food servicing the many office and blue collar workers in the area; it’s an excellent place to have a sandwich made for you.  We like the cheese selection and, of course, the bread.    We recommend you pick up a few breads and some freshly sliced coppa and make your own sandwich at home (what did you expect!).

Honorable Mention

Euro Markey/Enzo’s Market
414 Bergen Blvd
Palisades Park, NJ 07650

Bartolomeo Italian Delicatessen
105 N Dean St
Englewood, NJ 07631

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  • Michelle @ Italian Mama Chef

    Ok so I don’t live in NY/NJ but in NE Ohio and there are several Italian specialty stores. How do I decide if it’s legit? Some, like the Italian restaurant fiasco, claim to be but are American gourmet in disguise. Are there any tell tale signs?

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Hi Michelle , look for the following things:

      1. An Italian owner or an owner who has spent lots of time in Italy.
      2. Imported provisions
      3. A full deli case with both high quality domestic and imported meats (good domestic brands are Creminelli, Fra’Mani, La Quercia, etc.)
      4. Homemade items: whole milk mozzarella, roasted red peppers in olive oil, etc.

  • http://twitter.com/JoeDeGiorgio Joe DeGiorgio

    We have some great choices for full service Italian delis near where I live in Albany, NY. My favorite is a place called Roma Imports. I took my Nonna and my great aunt there for over 30 years so they could buy their imported cheese, cold cuts, and specialties. I love to go in there still as it smells the same and brings back great memories. They make killer sandwiches to boot!

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Hi Joe,
      Sounds great!
      Vince

  • Frank @Memorie di Angelina

    Very sage advice. I hardly ever eat out Italian here in the US. The authentic places are few and far between, and tend to be *very* expensive. Besides, when I eat out, I’m looking for something different and we eat Italian at home.

    You’re lucky to have such good Italian delis in your area. Down here (DC metro area) there are really only one or two, and neither compares with the best markets in NY/NJ. There’s a Balducci’s close by but, alas, Balducci’s is not the same as it was. I can remember when there was only one, on Sixth Avenue across from the Jefferson Market Library. It was Mecca for me during my law school years. Now it’s become, more or less, a generic ‘gourmet’ deli. Very sad.

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Thanks, Frank. Same here, when I do eat out I don’t want anything I can produce at home.

      We’re starting to see some “gentrification” of the Italian markets in our area, but, for the most part, the places mentioned above are fairly authentic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simon.phillips.1428 Simon Phillips

    Hi Vin, thanks for the list…good to keep in mind during a visit to New Jersey…Happy Holidays to your family…Respectfully, Cy.

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Thanks, Simon!

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Thanks, Simon!

  • Francesca and Pietro

    Hi Vincent,
    Thanks for the review. We were happy to see some of our favorites on the list and pleased to learn of some new ones. We agree, Italian restaurant Nirvana is in NYC. Having lived and worked there for many years we were fortunate to have found many that made us feel like we died and went to heaven. We have lived in Fort Lee for 17 years now. There are two restaurants we have discovered that are consistently wonderful, and compare favorably with the best in NYC. One is Fontana di Trevi, on Broad Avenue, in Leonia, NJ, and the second is Le Vecchia Napoli on Hilliard Street in Edgewater, NJ.

    Happy Holidays!

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      Thanks for the comment. We’ve been to both restaurants – Fontana seems to make very consistent and good quality Italian American food. Le Vecchia Napoli, which we visited about 10 years ago didn’t strike as being anything above average (but that’s out subjective opinion).
      In our view the best Italian American food in Bergen County is made at Villa Amalfi in Cliffside Park.

  • Anet99

    You’re right on the money Vincent. The salumarias you wrote about are great. I used to live in North Jersey and it was so easy to find the “good stuff”. Now I live in Central NJ and even the “good” Italian deli’s don’t have “real” corn meal for polenta or the same stuff that was easily available in the North. Even Joe Leone’s and Mulberry Street don’t sell the same stuff. Oh the horror …

  • anon

    You basically got them all. I love having them all so close by but my fave mozzarella is from Piccolo (Jerry’s second).

    • http://www.scordo.com/ Scordo.com

      they are both excellent!