Monday, September 22, 2008

Frigo's - Great Italian Deli in the Heart of Springfield

Mr. valleywriter and I had a rare weekday off together and were spending it running errands (what a way to use vacation time...). One of the errands involved popping down to Springfield and it just so happened we found ourselves there at lunch time. I suggested finding a good sandwich and Mr. valleywriter said Frigo's was the place to go.

Not being too familiar with Springfield (and the hubby not knowing the exact address) it took us a few wrong turns before we finally found it. But if you know where you're going - it's pretty easy. Frigo's is located on William Street, right off East Columbus Ave. It's just north of the Basketball Hall of Fame, but on the opposite side of the road. (You can get there off I-91 by taking Exit 6.)

Frigo's is a classic Italian deli, specialty foods market and catering company. The Springfield location is the main store, but they also have a sister store in East Longmeadow. In Springfield, the deli case spans the entire back of the store, running a good 25 feet. It's filled with homemade salads, pastas, ready-to-eat Italian entrees (think lasagna, eggplant parmesan, etc.), as well as fresh meats and cheeses that you can have sliced to your order and/or made into a sandwich.

We ordered "The Courthouse Special" - an 8-inch sub on soft, white Italian bread, filled with ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and honey mustard dressing. While the hubby waited for our oder, I poked around the market area that's located in the front part of the store. I walked down one narrow aisle and was amazed at the rows and rows of different oils and balsamic vinegars. I swear they must have had 50 different varieties of balsamic - I never knew that many existed!

The next aisle over had every kind of pasta you could ever want - from angel hair to gnocche to lasagna to ziti. They also have an ecletic collection of other specialty ingredients like prized porchini mushrooms, all-natural salad dressings, polenta, a decent selection of wine and a variety of jams and sauces.

My eyes were twinkling and my mouth about ready to start drooling as I stared at the cheese case (think huge wheels of parmesan and giant tubs of marscapone) when Mr. valleywriter saved me (and my thighs) by telling me our order was ready. He paid for our sandwich and 2 sodas at the cash register (it came to just $7.99 - a steal for lunch for 2 people!) while I stared longingly at the stack of chocolate-covered cannolis strategically placed on the counter. I was telling myself that I would only get one if hubby suggested it while secretly hoping he would, but unfortunately for me, he didn't. (Next time!)

It was a pleasant fall afternoon, so we sat outside at one of the small bistro tables they have in front of the store to eat our lunch. The sandwich was packed full of delicate almost-shaved slices of ham, crunchy fresh lettuce, sweet tomatoes and a unique zesty honey mustard dressing. They'd cut the sandwich in half, but it ended up being more like 1/3 and 2/3, which worked out perfectly for us. 1/3 of the sandwich was more than enough for me and Mr. valleywriter looked stuffed after eating his 2/3, too.

While I don't get down south too often, Mr. valleywriter works down that way, so I have a feeling there might be a few more deli takeout lunches from Frigo's in his future. And the next time we do an Italian dinner party, forget the Americanized-Italian food at the grocery store - I'm heading to Frigo's to get authentic Italian ingredients. If you're in the area - give it a try!

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