Family food tradition lives on at The Deli on Post
“If you go there once, I guarantee you will go back,” Mike Cerio told me.
He was right!
The Deli on Post, at 1277 Post Road in Warwick, is as good as it gets…and better.
Pat Messore, along with daughters Marie, Angela and Gena, plus close friends and relatives, carry on the traditions of their Italian ancestors in recreating the authentic, delicious Italian menus that have been handed down from generation to generation. Pat works by day at Bayview Academy in East Providence, while Marie handles the daily tasks of running the deli.
“This is truly a labor of love,” said Pat, a Cranston resident who inherited most of her recipes from her mother and family members, many of whom still live in Italy. “Nothing is written down. It’s a pinch of this and a pinch of that. And everything has to be fresh and made from scratch.”
The deli is located in a small strip mall on the corner of Post Rd. and Elm St., easily accessible from Routes 37 and 95, in a large, bright space that once housed a video store and a laundromat. In the 1960s it was a market called Orangeland.
“We opened in February after a lengthy renovation,” Pat said. “My husband is a mason, and he completely redid the floor. Marie worked in construction and designed the entire space.”
When you walk in the door you are greeted by a coffee pot and couch and, of course, a member of the large Italian family. Help yourself to coffee while you wait. A deli case displays a dozen or so freshly made prepared foods such as sausage and peppers, sausage and rabe (a deli favorite), frittata and stuffed peppers and mushrooms.
“Every week we have something different,” Marie said. “Many of our customers will recommend their favorite dish, and we will make it for them.”
A bakery case is filled with homemade Italian cookies (everything is homemade), biscotti, cupcakes, brownies, Danish and other goodies. The Deli also offers fresh fruits, vegetables, milk and other products for the convenience of their customers, plus a number of gift baskets. At the cash register, you will find a number of business cards from their steady customers who have been treated to free sandwiches after a number of purchases.
Catering is a major part of Messore’s business, ranging from a small office holiday party to dinners for large organizations. Last week was a Miss Rhode Island fundraiser for 75 people at the East Greenwich Yacht Club.
“We are truly a family affair,” Pat said. “All I have to do is pick up the phone and friends and family will be there to help.”
The Deli is open six days a week, with Sunday being Family Day.
“We will have the traditional Seven Fishes dinner as we do at every Christmas,” Pat said. “This year there will be 52 of us around one table at my father’s house. It’s a big house. We don’t believe in a kid’s table. We are all family. And we all contribute to the meal.”
While the deli menu changes weekly, there are a number of standards, like Nonna’s Chicken Soup, a family tradition for generations.
Pat and Marie would like to see more “foot traffic” at The Deli on Post. It is not an easy place to see as you speed down Post Road on your way to or from work. But, as Mike Cerio told me, once you’ve been there, you will return.
While most customers do take out, there are a couple of tables. Marie said that most people stop at lunchtime for a sandwich to take out and before dinner for either a full meal or sides to bring home to the family. The takeout containers are useable in both microwave and conventional ovens.
Most of the items come from the Italian family tradition, but Pat will try anything, even one customer’s request from corned beef and cabbage and another’s for a traditional Jewish recipe.
“Everyone loves my chicken pot pie, made without potatoes,” Marie said.
The family is particularly fussy about the bread they use for their sandwiches.
“I remember the bread from my trips back to Italy,” Marie said. “The closest we could find was a bakery in Johnston.
We have had their “Real Italian” with prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, tomato and olive oil ($6.25), which was out of this world…or at least as far as Italy. Other sandwiches, ranging from $5.25 to $6.50 include the Pilgrim Park (turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mayo and muenster cheese), and their signature Nightmare on Elm St. (rare roast beef, mayo, red onion, lettuce, tomato and horse radish). The deli is located in Warwick’s Pilgrim Park neighborhood on the corner of Elm St.
The prepared foods, pleasantly displayed, range from $4.99 to $6.99 a pound, very reasonably priced for fresh, homemade dishes. The special last week was spaghetti with lobster, and they were very generous with the lobster.
If I were to list all of their items on the menu or their catering menu, it would fill the entire page of this newspaper. And if you don’t see it, ask for it and they will make it.
We asked for a tour of the kitchen and found it spotless. Marie has developed her own charts to tell her what she would cook each day, how long it had been in the case, what she needed to order and when, what was selling, and everything she needed to know about the food items. She could teach a course at Johnson & Wales.
You hear much these days about the importance of families and family traditions. Pat Messore and her extended family have found a way to work together as small business owners to not only keep the tradition of Italian cooking alive but work as a team to provide some of the best food we have ever tasted.
“We may disagree on some things, but when we leave every day we give each other a big hug,” Marie said.
Marie’s last name is Jones, but that’s a “long story,” with one side of her husband’s family being Italian. The Deli on Post is located at 1277 Post Road in Warwick. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Their phone number is 461-1393. They are currently taking orders for holiday parties. Check them out online at www.thedelionpost.com or www.goodiesbymessore.com.