Baltimore has long been called Charm City and it’s places like Trinacria Italian Market and Deli that are a big reason for that distinction. The unassuming Italian deli located at 406 N. Paca Street in Westside/Seton Hill, just a quick ride from South Baltimore, is an amazing experience whether it’s your first or thousandth time through the door.
When my Italian mother, who grew up in the Little Italy neighborhood of Wilmington, DE, came to Maryland in 1985, she was always looking for a great Italian grocery store that reminded her of the great places she grew up around. Many years later when a close friend introduced her to Trinacria, she immediately knew she had found that place. Safe to say she has passed on that loyalty to her son.
Once a heavily Italian neighborhood, Seton Hill has been home to Trinacria since 1908. Owner Vince Fava, who grew up around the store and lived next door to it for a long time, is the third-generation Fava family member to own the Baltimore staple. Started by his grandfather, the store was named Trinacria after the name of Sicily when it was under Greek control. His father and uncles began working in the store from 1946-1948 as each returned from an Army tour in World War II.
Vince is the only Fava who currently owns the store, “I was the only one of the grandchildren crazy enough to get involved,” Fava jokingly told SouthBMore.com. His father Salvatore Fava, who still works at the deli everyday, has now been working at Trinacria for 64 years. If you don’t catch Salvatore, you can see his picture with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake behind the deli counter.
If you’ve ever been to Trinacria, chances are you’ve also met the infamous Mike Popoli. He is definitely the personality behind Trinacria. Around 1990, Popoli was always hanging out outside of the deli so they offered him a job. Almost 22 years later, Popoli still brings a smile to the face of all the customers and fellow employees of Trinacria. “It is impossible to be in a bad mood around Mike, he’ll always say something to get you smiling or laughing,” an employee of Trinacria told SouthBMore.com.
Popoli loves talking sports and general topics with the customers and is definitely the wine expert when someone is looking to match a bottle with one of the great foods sold at the store. Now 60 years old and the proud father of a daughter and step-daughter who have graduated from college, Popoli still bring his charisma to Trinacria everyday.
Now onto all the great items sold at Trinacria! Let’s start with wine. After shopping for wine at Trinacria it makes it difficult to ever purchase a bottle at a liquor store again. The store is full of boxes filled with good bottles of wine for just $4, 1.5 liter bottles starting at just $7 and an overall amazing selection whether you are looking to spend $4, $7 or much more. Compare the price of a bottle purchased at Trinacria to that at a liquor store and there is no comparison.
It is the food at Trinacria, however, that makes this charming spot famous. Their sandwiches and lunch meat are not only delicious, but just as reasonably priced as their wine. Their deli is filled with many different types of domestic and imported meats, many for only around $5 per pound. Prosciutto, soppressatta, salami, Italian sausage, mortadella and capacolla are just some examples of the many great Italian meats they sell. Just looking for turkey, roast beef or corned beef? Well they have that too, as well as more than 20 types of cheese.
Their sandwiches are to die for. Their wide variety of over-stuffed warm and cold subs have often credited Trincacria as the best place in Baltimore to get a sandwich by the City Paper. Their sandwiches feature their great selection of meats and cheeses and come on foccacio, a baguette or sub roll. They are all delicious, but if you only come in once, I recommend the prosciutto sandwich – prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and pesto on foccacio (heaven!) I had one today and it hit the spot. Don’t forget to add chips and a soda for $1.
If you are having a guest over who you are looking to impress, you should also shop for food at Trinacria. If you are a novice in the kitchen, you can purchase pre-made lasagnas, raviolis, meatballs, risottos, eggplants, pasta sauces and more. If you love to cook, then you’ll love their fresh dough balls, homemade pastas, lasagna noodles, pizza crusts and more. Make sure to use their oils and spices while cooking and finish the meal with some of their great boxes of homemade Italian cookies.
Convinced yet? You should definitely stop into Trinacria whether it’s just for a sandwich, dessert, bottle of wine or boxes full of food for your dinner party. Just make sure to take a number and don’t forget to ask Mike what his recent thoughts are on the O’s or the Ravens – he’ll gladly tell you!