Rosticceria Rossi & Sons (Rossi’s Deli), Poughkeepsie: Pork Roast on Foccacia Sandwich, Chicken Cutlet on Ciabatta Sandwich, Import Mix on Semolina Sandwich
Hudson Valley magazine’s favorite gourmet sandwich from Rossi’s Deli in Poughkeepsie: Pork Roast on Foccacia, Chicken Cutlet on Ciabatta, and Import Mix on Semolina
Import Mix on Semolina
Photographs by Jennifer May, food styling by Patrick W. Decker
There are delis, and then there is Rosticceria Rossi & Sons, better known simply as Rossi’s Deli. Rossi’s 30-plus years of creating perfect panini and fresh sandwiches with lively flavors has gained them an incredibly loyal fan base. Everyone from business lunchers to college kids to groups of cops and firemen make the midday pit stop at this one-of-a-kind establishment, located on the corner of a cobblestone street in Poughkeepsie’s charming Little Italy district. “We’re a family-run business, started by my parents and now run by my brothers and me,” explains Fabio Rossi, who maintains back-of-house duties. “We tried to take what our parents created and not make too many changes — just modernize it a little. We created a Web site for preorders, revamped the store so it’s more streamlined, and a few other additions.”
It was 1979 when Italian immigrant Giovanni “John” Rossi and his brother-in-law Victor Trocino purchased a small grocery in Poughkeepsie to offer a selection of imported Italian goods as well as prepared foods. But word-of-mouth about the Old World meals spread quickly. Now — while there is still a small offering of grocery items — the made-fresh foods are in such high demand that lines of customers snake through the shop and out the door come lunchtime.
The cases and shelves at Rossi’s are full of Italian specialties (top left). Top right: It’s a family affair with (from left) brothers Alessandro, Fabio, Roberto, and Mauro Rossi. At right: the deli’s downtown location
“People love our foods because we use good, good ingredients,” Rossi says, “including imported meats and cheeses from Parma and Calabria. We roast our meats here, and go through so much in a week that we can’t use a local supplier. But we use local produce from Migliorelli and Taliaferro Farms and sell Pastosa pastas, the freshest pasta in Brooklyn.” These days, Giovanni’s wife Angelina can still be found with her sons behind the counter most days — often working the cash register and greeting old friends. She still hand-makes the mozzarella. “I’ve never had any mozzarella better than hers in this country,” says her son, Roberto.
The Import Mix on Semolina is a top daily choice (one online reviewer called it “the answer for world peace”), showcasing some of the finest meats from Italy — prosciutto, coppa, and sopressata (Calabrese) — with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, arugula, and a little balsamic. “The meats are cured with less salt, and since our cheese is very fresh, you won’t find the typical salty taste that many store brands have, it’s much more balanced,” says Fabio. “You can almost always tell right away when someone’s using domestic because of its taste.”
Their policy is to “never say no” to a special order, but everyone’s got to draw the line somewhere: “We’ve gotten some unusual requests, like ‘Can you put this pasta on a roll for me? I need to eat it while I drive so I don’t want to use a fork,’ ” Fabio laughs. “But then you’ll get the college kids who want to mix an American tradition with Italian by putting bacon on things or adding dressings. That’s where it starts pushing it — you want to put ranch on this incredible prosciutto raised on a farm in Italy? It kills me. We can’t. You’ve got to respect the prosciutto.”
Note: Now that we’ve tantalized your taste buds, you’ll need to wait awhile to indulge them. Rossi’s Deli will be closed for the month of August for vacation and for annual store maintenance, but reopens just after Labor Day.
Pork Roast on Focaccia
Served only on Thursdays, the Philly-style Pork Roast on Focaccia is one of the most-ordered sandwiches. It looks similar to a cheesesteak, with thinly sliced pork roast that’s been prepared in-house, then topped with melted sharp provolone and seasoned broccoli rabe. “We use a good quality pork that’s sourced from a small purveyor who’s been raising animals the right way for 40-50 years, and we season it very minimally with good salt and pepper,” Fabio says. “But because of this sandwich we go through about 40 pounds of pork shoulder every Thursday.”
Chicken Cutlet on Ciabatta
Another top Italian-style choice is the Chicken Cutlet on Ciabatta, containing chicken, prosciutto, mozzarella, basil from their own garden, roasted peppers, and pesto. “We go through about 100-140 pounds of chicken and seven-to-10 legs of prosciutto per week, mostly due to these two sandwiches,” says Fabio. “We have a huge variety and are willing to mix and customize to what a customer wants, but these are the most popular.”