Well, after tracking its progress for what seems like a year, Orlando’s first Italian deli and market, Stasio’s, finally opened for business today, as a soft opening. (https://www.facebook.com/Stasios-Italian-deli-194418224503776/) I love Italian delis and markets — Mazzaro’s Market in St. Petersburg is one of my favorite destinations in all of Florida (and I don’t just mean restaurants), and DeLaurenti inside Pike Place Market in Seattle and Eataly in Chicago are two of the coolest places I’ve ever been. Needless to say, I had to make a pilgrimage to Stasio’s on its opening day, and I’m so glad I did, because they are filling a void in Orlando’s burgeoning culinary scene. The family that owns Stasio’s also founded the venerable and much-missed Louie and Maria’s Italian restaurant, as well as the Pizzeria Valdiano location in Waterford Lakes, so they aren’t new to Orlando or to delicious Italian food.
My co-worker and I arrived around 1 PM, and I was glad to see the place busy and bustling. We immediately got in line to order sandwiches at the deli counter, where we were presented with a laminated menu. For me, choosing the Stasio sandwich was an easy choice: prosciutto, hot capicola, mild soppressata, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, red onion, and white balsamic vinaigrette on a sub roll, for $11. That’s my idea of a good time! My vegetarian co-worker ordered the Melenzani sandwich, with eggplant, spinach, roasted red peppers, marinated tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic reduction, which only came as a panini, for $11. (Editor’s note: she e-mailed and said it came on a sub roll after all, despite the menu saying it would be a panini.)
They were slammed on their first day, so it gave us time to browse around. At the deli, I ordered some sliced Italian beef brisket and porchetta, both made in-house, while my co-worker picked up some beautiful fresh sfogliatelle (flaky, shell-shaped pastries) from their bakery counter. They had plenty of other meats and cheeses, huge square slices of pizza ($4.95 for a gigantic slice), deli salads and vegetables, including broccoli rabe, multicolored roasted peppers, stuffed cherry peppers, and sundried tomatoes glistening in oil, marinated imported anchovies that looked like actual silvery fish and not the salty brown fillets that everyone except me dreads on their pizza, and prepared Italian meatballs and sausage. Shelf-stable groceries included all kinds of fancy pasta you will NOT find at Publix, and plenty of cans, jars, and bottles of delicious Italian delicacies.
Stasio’s does not have tables, but the store is lined with a long counter for people to enjoy their food while sitting on stools. We brought ours back to work, though. They also have an espresso counter near the cash registers at the front, and it looks like you can also order wine by the glass there, but I could be wrong. (Don’t drink, wasn’t paying that close attention.)
Upon returning to work, I couldn’t be more pleased to say how great the sub was. The melange of meats worked together in perfect harmony with the fresh “mutsadell” (I promise I’ll never do that again), and roasted red peppers are a welcome addition to almost any sandwich. I’m sure someone is wondering how the sub roll was, and I’m happy to report it was the perfect amount of chewy with an exterior that wasn’t too crusty — just how I like them. The rolls were also baked in-house, of course. I would have liked more toppings on the sub — lettuce, tomato, maybe some of the long hot peppers they advertised on other sandwiches — but ordering was a bit of sensory overload today, and I didn’t even ask. Next time!
I also impulse-bought a Manhattan Special espresso soda in a glass bottle, because even though I’m not much of a coffee drinker, I sure love trying new and interesting soda flavors. It was good, although I think a cappuccino/latte version with some creaminess would have been much better. All they had were regular and diet version of the espresso soda, though.
Well, I am very happy Stasio’s is finally open, and so close to my work! I’ll definitely add it to my regular restaurant rotation, and I suggest my dozens of loyal readers (bakers’ dozens?) give it a try at your earliest convenience. I wish them the best and welcome them to the neighborhood!
ADDENDUM: My co-worker gave me one of her shell-shaped sfogliatelle pastries, and it was delicious. The crispy outer dough is very flaky and fragile, able to be peeled apart in thin, spiral-like layers. The inside is kind of like a thick, lightly-sweetened cheese (not creamy or runny at all, more like the filling of a cheese danish but not nearly as sweet), speckled with tiny, chewy bits of candied lemon for a subtle fresh citrus taste and scent.