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An Italian Deli in SOMA/FiDi

An Italian Deli in SOMA/FiDi

Review of: A G Ferrari Foods
By: Avery Glasser
Rating: 4
Read review on Judy’s Book.

One of the benefits, and curses, of living in Germany was having access to the great Italian shops. In every city there were at least a couple Italian specialty stores, offering fantastic foods at a fair price. Even the Karstadt and Galeria Kaufhof department stores in Cologne and Munich had separate counters stocked solely with fresh pastas, cheeses, sauces and cured meats. The problem is that the stores here – any of them – just don’t compare.

Take, for example, a simple ham. At my corner Italian store in Cologne, I could get garlic rubbed ham, spicy ham, rosemary ham, black truffle ham, tri-color ham (cured with sweet peppers, rosemary and garlic), a proscuitto cotto (steamed ham), two or three standard prosciuttos of various grades as well as fresh porchetta – roasted suckling pig slathered with herbs, rolled and sliced. Five types or turkey, over a dozen salamis and a half dozen types of mortadella alone graced the deli counter, and the list goes from there… and this was just a small neighborhood Italian store in a working class neighborhood. Every couple of days I would wander in, have an espresso and search the store for something new.

Unfortunately, because of the excessively restrictive laws on importing European meat, most Americans will never get a chance to have the experience of good Italian deli… and here, in San Francisco, every salami seems to come from Carando or Molinari, which are adequate, but nothing even close to what I became accustomed to.

With that said, I need to put my European experience behind me and look at what we have to work with here.

A.G. Ferrari is a small local chain of Italian delis, and because of their size, it can get meat producers to make specialized products for the stores. The prosciutto cotto al vapore, a natural steamed ham, had a fantastic flavor, rich with pork flavor – as did the porchetta, which wasn’t really a porchetta by any sense of the word, but was a nice roasted herb pork. The salamis were the standard San Francisco selection – the milano, supposedly spicy was decidedly not.

The cheese selection is pretty good, and the fresh bocce ball mozzarella were outstanding. The shop offered a fresh burrata, which looked nice, but isn’t appropriate for the sandwiches I had in mind.

Some thoughts – I would love to see the pesto available at the counter so I can just get a little or alot. The bread is good, but I would love to see some more selection – a garlic or rosemary ciabatta would be nice.

It’s a good place – one of the better ones in town, and when you’re jonesing for the fixings for a nice Italian meal, it’s worth stopping in.

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