Having lived in Pittsburgh for nearly 1 ½ years, I’m still discovering pockets of great local markets that make my tummy flutter with glee. When a representative from DeLallo Italian Marketplace asked if I was interested in receiving a $25 gift certificate to experience what the store had to offer, I couldn’t help but jump at the opportunity.
As I crossed the threshold through a set of gleaming double doors, I was immediately greeted by large pods of fresh produce perfectly merchandised to showcase the wide selection of crisp fruits and vegetables. Newly added in December 2009, the produce section is clearly the shiny new penny of the store with freshly painted walls in muted grey tones and artwork that celebrates DeLallo’s long business history.
Poised and ready to offer assistance to anyone who asks, customer service people are stationed throughout the intimate space. Their main purpose is to weigh and tag your selections while you watch. I asked the store representative after my visit why they have such an abundance of customer support. “They are there to help the customers select the best produce, offer tips on storage and preparation and to weigh their fruits and vegetables so that the customers’ wait at the register is minimal.” Even after selecting what I thought was the best package of fresh basil, a gentleman in a crisp white chef’s coat asked if he could check the stockroom for an even better package.
This store contains a wide selection of bruschetta toppings, olives and antipasti ingredients in three fully stocked stations like many fine Italian markets I have visited in the past. But what really made my heart flutter was a cheese and deli counter that seemed to stretch for days. According to Anthony DiPietro, George DeLallo’s grandson, “To go through the store the first destination is our cheese counters, which was established by my grandmother, we hand-cut and wrap every piece of cheese fresh as opposed to all other stores where it is pre-wrapped in plastic. At our prepared food counter, which we have had for 25 years, we make everything fresh daily from scratch from our kitchen. We have many destination items in that case such as Lasagna, Spinach Salad & Bread Pudding to name a few. At our deli we also cut to order our own line of deli meats as well as many things that are made in house like our Porchetta and Jeannette Baked Ham as well as our own fresh sausage made daily.” It was evident this area is truly the star of the show as I watched the exchanges play-out like a high definition sports game.
Of course, I can’t forget to mention the abundance of carbs! The store freshly bakes breads and biscotti everyday in their own kitchens. With over 18 varieties of biscotti available on the day of my visit, I couldn’t help but try eight different options. My favorite was the seemly simple, yet complex in flavor, Chocolate Chip Biscotti. A friend of mine made sure I included a loaf of their fresh baked bread on my shopping list. I opted for a loaf that was stuffed full of meaty pepperoni that begged to be dipped in flavorful olive oil.
The pride for the DeLallo brand and market was evident as I bounced from section to section. Shelves are fully stocked with their very own products including sauces, tomatoes and pastas. While at first glance the employees radiated a militant focus on ensuring every square inch of the store was at its optimal performance, they still stopped to offer assistance to anyone who asked. I returned home with a trunk full of goodies and a smile knowing what I bought was top quality.