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Markets & Stores 4

Vitsa - OMG real Italian deli/bakery in SD area WITH sfogliatelle

Stanley Stephan | Jan 12, 200404:55 PM

I saw the cheeses, hams and sausages hanging from the window as I walked by and my first thought was ... plastic ... but there was something about the place.

I almost passed out walking in. Everything in the window was REAL. A dairy case to the right had Italian cheeses including bocce ball size mozzarella and tubs of mascarpone.

The rest of the wall was full of all sorts of imported Italian products from canned tomatoes to two foot long pasta.

At the end was a little display case for wedding accessories where you could buy cake toppers and frilly white garters.

The back wall had a freezer case with frozen cakes and pastas.

Walking back to the door there was the bakery with loaves of baked in-house Italian breads and cookies. Jars of Italian candies and pastel almonds crowded the counter while pannetones hung from the ceiling. The front of the store has the restaurant / deli.

There are fresh Italian salads, pans of lasagna and a deli case of Italian cold cuts and sausage. Huge pans of Sicilian pizza topped the counters.

All sandwiches are on their house-baked bread and rolls.

The web site below is a work in progress. However, if you look at the excellent graphic at the top, it is a realistic rendition of the shop.

They have been open for two years, the owners are from Rome.

All I've had so far was the sfogliatelle and a sample of the anise biscotti. Both were excellent. The orangish biscotti had a true anise flavor. The texture was perfect. It was not break your teeth rock hard like some. These were fresh and had the right crumble and crunch.

The sfogliatelle came in a mini version. It was about a third of the size I am familiar with.

If you haven't had them, Sfogliatelle (SFOH-l' yah-TEH-leh) is a sea shell shaped puff pastry filled with ricotta cheese, semolina flour and lemon. Sfogliatelle means many folds or leaves making the crisply exterior look like the ridges of a clam shell. It originated in Naples and at one time was made only for the noble families of the Renaissance and that is the reason why they are called sfogliatelle della nobilita, pastry of the nobles.

It is a texture orgy with the crunchy exterior and cheesy interior. The top is dusted with powdered sugar. OMG, I just had another bite. It's WONDERFUL. I haven't had a decent version of this for decades. It is easier to find in New York / Connecticut.

I don't usually appreciate delis that sell fresh mozzarella salad out of season. However this place did something clever, they used cherry tomatoes. Usually you can find tasty cherry tomatoes any time of year.

There are other gourmet products. There was a huge barrel in the middle of the store with bags of truffles from France. There were also Greek and Mexican cheeses in the dairy case.

Their take-out menu has pictures of their regular cakes and wedding cakes.

For a while I was annoyed when critics said a chef showed a sense of 'irony' with a dish. However, one of the wedding cakes on the take out menu is a Leaning Tower of Pisa cake with a bride and groom perched precariously on top. Now THAT'S irony. If I get married, I want that cake.

Has anyone eaten here?

If you do stop by, walk across the street to tortillaria Del Reys where you can get hot tortillas made in the store. This is probably a good choice for a bite if you are going to the new Krikorian movie comples. Only a block away, it allows you to avoid the usual chain gang that currently surrounds the theatre.

Oh yeah, next to the bride and groom cake topers is a shelf of Pinocchio collectables like nut crackers. Pinocchio dreamed of becoming a real boy. I no longer have to dream of finding a real Italian deli / bakery in the area because this is it.



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