TRADITIONAL & CONTEMPORARY ITALIAN CLASSICS: ANTONIO’S DELI
Mario Troiano and his family work tirelessly to bring difficult-to-find Italian traditional and contemporary delicacies to our backyard.
Two years ago, after six months of a local friend lobbying the family to bring their talents to the Jersey Shore, Troiano opened Antonio’s Italian Specialties in Wanamassa with inspiration from his mom Antoinette, father Antonio and cousin Anthony.
The Antonio’s here is designed to mirror – in menu, products and service – the deli the family has been running on Staten Island for nine years. What they don’t make themselves they import from that far off, fabulous land of Brooklyn… and Italy.
I spoke with Troiano, 28, last week.
TBP: The vegetable lasagna, meatballs, Pasta e Fajoli, rice balls and the hero sandwiches with fresh bread and mozzarella are my favorites. What do you eat when you have a three minute break?
Troiano: I really like the penne with sautéed zucchini, tortellini with pesto and the cheese ravioli with balsamic glaze. With fresh vegetables, our homemade mozzarella and a family recipe béchamel sauce, the vegetable lasagna is the best hot meal we make.
We sell 15 pounds of chicken meatloaf – fresh ground chicken, Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh parsley and other spices and then top it with homemade brown gravy – every week so that would be one of the most popular hot items with customers. We make 40 or 50 Italian heroes – ham, salami, provolone, roasted peppers, lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar – during the summer, which is for sure our most popular sandwich.
Fresh is key for a deli and everything here is made every day. We have at least 40 prepared dishes in the case every day.
These are all my mom’s recipes and she will not stand for anything less than us using the best ingredients. My mom has five sisters and all of them cooked from when they were little, learning from my grandmother. When I was growing up my mom cooked every single night. The recipes here are a combination of what my mom has cooked since she was a kid as well as new ideas she has that she hopes people will like.
My dad was a butcher for 30 years so between the two of them, we feel like we know what the best food is.
TBP: Speaking of fresh, you make the mozzarella here by hand every morning.
Troiano: It is so difficult to make but once you try it you will understand why we want to make it for you. We use a family recipe that my father’s cousin taught my cousin Anthony, who then taught me how to make it. The way we prepare it is a little special and different and makes a world of difference from the basic you get in the store. The flavor and texture is consistent from the first slice to the middle and through. [more below]
TBP: And I am just so curious, how did you find your way to Wanamassa from Staten Island?
Troiano: My hobby is playing the guitar. I have played for 11 years – sometimes at Asbury Lanes – so I knew about the area but was not so sure about the two hour commute in the beginning. I am still not so sure about the commute but the customers here are now my friends. I know our regulars by name and what they like here.
We know that it is a big deal to let somebody else cook for you and is a trust we take very seriously.