For this final installment of Let’s Eat, we focus on one of downtown North Bay’s newly opened stores, Fresh Italian Eats - Italian Deli & Grocery.
“We sell groceries that come from Italy. Everything comes from Italy. The meat we bring in, some of it is made in the Toronto area though, because some stuff can’t be shipped overseas,” explained business owner Dina Vendetti
“In-house, I’m doing lasagna, meat sauce, tomato sauce, fresh bread, and meatballs. One of the biggest things is there are no preservatives in the food that I make.”
At lunch, customers can enjoy fresh sandwiches, made to their own specifications.
“The sandwiches are made with fresh schiacciata bread,” said Vendetti.
“You fill out a form, you pick the meats that you want, the cheese that you want, and the spreads that you want. I have a black olive spread, I have muffaletta which I have had to put into containers because people want to buy it, pistachio, butter, mustard, mayo and of course, a choice of veggies.”
At the heart of the sandwiches are the mouth-watering meats.
“The meats are the big thing. It is the capicola regular or hot, the prosciutto, the genoa salami, soppressata hot, and mortadella.”
The tasty selection of cheeses has people coming back for more.
“We have our provolone and mozzarella. We have Pecorino Romano which is an expensive cheese. I’ve got a couple of the kashkaval, things like that which are very popular. And I have some other specialty cheeses.”
During lunch, customers also have the option of ordering small-sized meatballs with sauce and bread.
“I was trying to offer more choices, but we can’t keep up yet. But come the fall I will be doing different specials, and I’ll have a hot station. I just can’t get to that yet. ”
The homemade lasagna is flying out the door.
“I have it in the freezer. We sold 40 on the first day, both large and small. Even the noodles are made from scratch. The lasagna is made with ground pork and beef, and tomato sauce. It has got parmesan cheese, and fresh mozzarella that I get from my supplier which is delicious and which I will be selling once I get it packaged. And I have a special sauce which tops it all off.”
Vendetti will make up antipasto platters as a specialty order.
The business owner brings years of experience working in Toronto, back to North Bay.
“I was in Toronto for 30-plus years. I’ve run restaurants in Toronto for many, many years, in the distillery district for 10 years, very high volume. I moved back because of Covid,” Vendetti shared.
“I had bought a house here, sold everything in Toronto, and moved back. I retired for three years, then I decided I am too young to be retired, but I don’t want to work for anybody anymore. So, I opened an Italian deli which has been well-needed in this area for a very long time.”
This was made evident by the steady stream of customers going in and out of the newly opened business.
Vendetti has high expectations when it comes to customer service.
“Because I come from the restaurant industry, customer service is number one. I want my staff to talk to people, making people feel comfortable. It is not just about producing, it is about making people feel they’re coming into a family business, which it is. My mother is working here right now, my sister’s best friend is working, and her daughter is here. It is a very family-oriented business. And that is what I want the customers to feel.”
Vendetti feels she made the right choice opening her business on Main Street, North Bay.
”The downtown is really starting to change. And I think I am going to be a very big part of that because a lot of people are coming downtown again. With the streets getting fixed up and all that, I have full confidence that it is going to be amazing down here,” Vendetti explained.
“This is what I do. This is who I am,” Vendetti grinned. “I’m proud to be doing this.”
Located at 126 Main Street East, Fresh Italian Eats is open Wednesday through Saturday.