Yes, I have reopened the pantry after a false health scare (blame the doctor , not me). The first trip back was to Visentini's Brothers in Lodi, New Jersey. This gem is an Italian food lover's paradise, filled with traditional and even unusual Italian treats from both the north and south of the country.
A friend told me about Visentini's Brothers, located on one of the town's main roads, Union Ave in Lodi. There have been Italians living in this area since the late 1800's so food shopping really is like shopping in Naples or Rome. At one time home chefs had a handful of salumerias to shop from,to buy home made pasta and cold cuts. Those stores have since closed , leaving only Visentini Brothers which is a combination liquor store, salumeria, caterer and grocery .What is unique about it is the variety of unusual products. The store sells candele pasta, literally two foot long (!) pasta tubes that are a specialty of Neopolitan kitchens.There are also other tubular pastas of different sizes and shapes home chefs can try out too., Yes they offer traditional pastas such as fusilli lunghi, foot long strings of wavy pasta along with spaghetti , angel hair and penne. What is great about the store is that they feature staples of Northern Italy too. There is the finely ground Piedmontese polenta, along with dried mushrooms,There are shelves full of Italian breakfast biscuits as well as San Pelligrino Mineral water along with the always tart and refreshing orange and lemon sodas.
Visentini Brothers is also a deli, and again they don't disappoint with their wide array. They have breaded eggplant, chicken and even cauliflower. This last is a must have .The florets are evenly and perfectly coated with something akin to bread "dust" than crumbs. It's not overpowered with spices so that the sweet earthy flavor of the cauliflower comes through.The artichoke hearts are another standout. They are the size of small roses almost with an earthy candy flavor. Visentini's marinates in a vinaigrette sauce that only adds to the flavor.The deli counter also offers other delicious dishes such as shrimp salad, meatballs and broccoli rabe. Those who are familiar with Southern Italian specialties will love their arancini, , the little oranges made from rice , chopped meat and breading. Usually these are the size of small softballs but Visentinis makes theirs the size of small bowling balls. One can easily feed two or even three people. Their heroes are legendary around the area, with the store customizing them to individual tastes. The store also has an extensive catering menu which features filet mignon,, deviled eggs with caviar, and melon with prosciutto, They also a wide range of pastas to choose from, unusual for a caterer.
Visentini Brothers is the perfect stop for those who adore the Italian food. It is a great trip , full of tasty foods. and plates. Welcome back to the pantry, thanks , in part to this amazing store.