Saturday, April 8, 2017


Rumor has it that lovers of Italian sausage are trekking to Mario’s Meat Market and Gourmet Deli for their supplies.  Hey, Joe, what’s the story?  Picture it.  1971 when Mario DiGangi and his family come to America from a town in Italy called Polizzi Generosa where Mario gets a job working in a meat store while living in Brooklyn.  A move to Ridgewood, Queens he works at another meat store for 9 years.  Enough already! It’s 1982 and time to get his own store!  That is when he opened Mario’s Meat Market and Deli located at 75-55 Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens. 


An Italian meat market; what’s the big deal?  These high quality one family places are few and far between.  I walked in one day to see Mario’s son Joe preparing the dry sausage.  Joe took over since Mario had passed in 2011.  He tells me that it’s all about the quality and cut of meat being used.  I see a variety of both thin and thick sausages through the glass shelf of which is made fresh every day…the sausage, not the shelf.  Joe said that a lesser amount of fat is used for the dry sausage and yes, it’s been quite demanded.  They are air dried for 4 weeks and ready to slice up, like a thin salami.  

The store is quite large and divided well.  One area has the Grade A prime or Black Angus cuts of meat and only organic chickens are sold here.  You could drool just looking at what you and your family can cook up.  Wait until you see their Tomahawk Steak; prime rib and feeds at least three.


There are many prepared items so you don’t have to think.  Take for instance, Chicken Breast ala Mario is lightly coated with spices and stuffed with proscutti, mozzarella, and sausage.  Large enough for two people especially when you add a pasta dish with one of Mario’s sauces. Buy the chopped meat or delve into a smokehouse burger made with prime chuck and brisket blend, Applewood smoked bacon, Vermont cheddar, salt and pepper.  Want one made from turkey? How about a burger with organic turkey breast, spinach, imported feta, salt and pepper?  All tasted savory and satisfying to the taste buds.  

I love osso bucco but want to make sure it’s cooked properly.  Joe can give you the recipe.  How does he know?  He didn’t start there by cutting meat.  It’s an art.  Joe spent his younger years in the kitchen helping his mother and grandmother.  Who else would you get the best recipes from?  Now he cooks up a variety of delicious food that you can simply heat and eat worthy of a great Italian restaurant.  That is where we move on toward the deli area. 

Chose imported cheeses such as provolone, ricotta salata, parmigiana reggiano, burrata, caciocavello, and scamorza.   Try one of the tastiest store made ravioli made with sweet red bell peppers and smoked mozzarella.  Top it with their ala vodka, tomato or pesto sauce.  

Easter brings requests for baby lamb, especially known for the delicacy of eating the roasted head…in Southern Italy.  You can purchase a whole baby lamb and Joe will gladly cut it up for roasting. These lambs are milk fed and tender.  Northern Italy tends to go for baby goat…no kid-ding.  Preference is a darker meat and liver vs. the head.  

Pizza Rustica, the famous Easter Italian Pie is like quiche with various meats and cheeses.  Sweeten the meal as you will find a diversity of locally made and imported pastries not to mention the Italian imported gift wrapped chocolate eggs.    

My take on this market?   I got the thin sausage; one with cheese and parsley, one with fennel.  Fried it up and put some of their tomato sauce atop.  I did my own osso bucco creation by dipping in flour and frying as usually done.  I did not have wine.  Instead, I substituted with water and raisins.  After letting it cook on a sort of high simmer, I added tomato sauce and lastly, a small dollop of their pesto sauce on the marrow. 

Mario’s has their own brand of ravioli, one of which is a sweet red pepper with ricotta cheese and smoke mozzarella.  Not being a vegetarian, I opted to top it with their Bolognese sauce, loaded with chopped beef.  

A portion of the deli department is dedicated to salads and pre-cooked items.  I decided on their vegetable lasagna to conclude that I didn’t require any meat to satiate my taste.   They cure their olives and sampled a mixture.  Octopus salad was quite tender and very little was added. 

One surprise was in requesting marrow bones.   Before it was trendy, they were thrown in with your order if you wanted.  Joe said that if you are there to buy other meat items, he’ll toss a few bones.  Otherwise, they are $2.99 per pound.  The surprise was that they were not the usual beef bones but from veal.  It’s kind of like having osso bucco without the meat.  

While you are shopping, take advantage of their $12 panini deal.  Choose one from their list or create your own.  For instance, I had one with grilled chicken, grilled veggies and a cheddar horseradish cheese.   Uncle Tony is their main panini maker who adds a cup of soup and a bottle of water (and some extra spices on the panini).  Extremely tummy filling.  Check it all out at 

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