In a new column, Appetito’s “Starving Actress,” Alissa Salvatore, takes us inside the abbondanza of products at a venerable shop in Queens.
With 91 neighborhoods and over 130 languages spoken, the borough of Queens in New York City is considered the most diverse county in America. Among the many neighborhoods and nationalities are a lot of Italians. This is particularly true in Astoria, where the main streets and boulevards are speckled with authentic Italian restaurants, delis, gelaterias, and shops that transport you to un’altro paese (another country).
Opening the door of Rosario’s, an Italian grocery and pizzeria, your senses come alive. The voice of Andrea Bocelli blesses your ears while the scent of olives, cheeses, and freshly baked pizza delight your nose.
Rosario DiMarco, who hails from the small mountain town of Borgetto in Sicily, bought the deli now known as Rosario’s back in 1986. Previously owned by the Tenaglia family, it’s been serving the Italian and local community for over 100 years, giving access to items one could only find in Italy. The walls are covered floor to ceiling with imported Italian products, like jarred artichokes, dried pastas, Crodino and, of course, the beloved Nutella. Some of the other hard-to-find Italian brands include: Toschi, Sanniti, Pastene, Argeta Specialita, Le Italiane, Cedrinca, Sambucese, Pastificio di Martino, and Basso.
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Their deli counter is stocked with quality meats and cheeses. Hot trays of prepared foods are made fresh, including rice balls, chicken cutlets, broccoli rabe, and lasagna. Their warm homemade mozzarella just begs to be picked up as it eyes you by the cash register.
What makes Rosario’s even more special is their pizza, among the most famous in Queens and greater New York City. Made in a brick oven with top quality ingredients, Rosario’s oven includes stone on the top and bottom. They never need to turn the pie; it just stays nestled in the oven to cook, creating an even, crisp bake all around, and a full-bodied brick oven flavor. After a couple of minutes, it’s ready to come out, and it’s thin and crispy, with that perfect bite of basil-infused marinara and fresh mozzarella.
With so much changing in these neighborhoods, including the closure of the nearly 100-year-old Cassinelli pasta shop down the street, it’s more important than ever to support these Italian businesses. Not only do they fill our stomachs, but they fill our souls, and keep us strongly connected to generations that have bravely crossed the Atlantic for us.