This is the porketta, amde with seasoned Italian roast beef, beautiful tomatoes, a hint of provole and aspot-on spices. Thank me later. (photo by Brian Clarey)
Reader´s you have let me down.
I have been filing these weekly food dispatches for what, seven years now, often ranting about my extended Italian family up in New Jersey, waxing nostalgic about the foods I grew up eating, lamenting the fact that many of these things are not available in the North Carolina Piedmont Triad.
But all the while, Capra’s Italian Delicatessen has been sitting just about five miles from my office. And none of you have ever seen fit to drop me a line and let me know about it.
Shame on you. Such as it is, I found Capra’s Deli the way I find just about everything these days: through random internet searches. And I’ll be honest: As an Italian-American with strong ties to the cuisine as practiced in new York and New Jersey, I wasn’t expecting much from this place, tucked into a new strip mall on Highway 68. But from the second I walked through the door, I knew just by the smell of fresh bread, spicy meats and vinaigrette that this place is the real deal.
This was before I knew the backstory: Tony Capra, a recent New Jersey transplant, came down in 1977 with his family sausage recipes and a desire for some warmer weather, opening the deli first on Greensboro Road and then moving to the new spot in 2000.
That’s right, it’s been here nearly 35 years, and I had to learn on the internet that I can get real Italian sausages, homemade gelato, sfogliatelle and pastas sent down directly from Hackensack, NJ and torrone candy, the kind in little boxes that my family generally only eats at Christmas, all in one place, as well as an impressive collection of sandwiches.
There are take-and-bake trays if ziti and lasagne, tubs of homemade pesto, empty cannoli shells with tubes of cream. They’ve got tortellini and cavatelli — no one has cavatelli — and great trays of the kind of Italian cookies I’ve never seen anywhere outside New York and New Jersey.
I immediately focused on the porketta, because I haven’t had Italianstyle pork in forever, and the sandwich made me moan: thin-sliced, warm and spicy pork on a fine Italian sub roll, with gently sautéed onion, beautiful tomato slices and... is that cheese in there? Yes, a bit of melted provolone tucked in the folds. The sandwich was warm, not toasted, because only a fool would toast fresh Italian bread.
It is the kind of sandwich that induces one to make noises while eating it.
I scored a good-sized portion of tira misu as well, a fine example of the form with lady fingers soaked in magnificent espresso, creamy and sweet mascarpone and a light dusting of cocoa.
It was the best lunch I’ve had in months, and I’m going back today.
This time I’ll try the sausage sub, grilled with peppers and potatoes. I’m interested in the pasta y fagioli soup. And it’s possible I’ll pick up a box of torrone to share the treat with my kids, because even though it’s not Christmas, it sure feels like it to me inside this place.
Capra’s Italian Delicatessen
2640-120 Willard Dairy Road