For Your Next Mutz Craving: Italian Delis in Jersey City You Must Try

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New Jersey has some of the largest Italian-American communities in the country. And New Jersey residents are V proud of their top-notch Italian American delis. There are not only Italian specialties, such as imported prosciutto, mortadella, or pear-shaped knobs of provolone, but also plenty of American favorites — like huge hunks of roast beef and long blocks of swiss cheese, ready to be sliced and rolled into giant sub sandwiches. Drooling already.

And of course, there is mozzarella {it’s all about the mutz}. The owners, many of whom have run their businesses for decades, are always proud of this delectable and one-of-a-kind-only-delicious-in-NJ-or-Italy goodness. The cheese is freshly-made daily, in the shop and to get the best texture, it has to be kept and served under room temperature. 

Needless to say, there is no shortage of delis beloved by people in their neighborhoods. Read on to learn about some top-notch Italian delis in Jersey City, what they are, and why locals love them.

Salumeria Ercolano {1072 Westside Avenue}

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{Photo credit: @salumeria-ercolano}

Spacious and high-ceilinged inside, with plenty of seating space, this spot has all the warm vibes of a small, packed neighborhood deli, busy with local office workers and residents alike. The counter is a copious display of meat, cheese, and antipasti that eaters improvise to create their own sandwiches, which the deli is famous for. The ingredients, be it roast beef, chicken cutlet or cold cuts are consistently fresh and tasty. Top the meat and cheese with some broccoli rabe or arugula for refreshing bitterness. And don’t forget to order extra fresh mozzarella for the sandwich, or just eat it straight.

It’s fun to wander around the grocery area and look at the big assortment of Italian sodas, canned tomatoes and peppers, and trellis. Yes, trellis! The brittle, ring-shaped Italian crackers made of only olive oil, flour, water, and spices are available here. Get a bag on the way out {but expect it to be gone by the end of the day}.

Andrea Salumeria {247 Central Avenue}

Located on Jersey City’s busy Central Avenue, this quaint little deli has been serving The Heights neighborhood with top-quality Italian American food since 1975. The fresh mozzarella tastes stellar in the deli’s famous sandwiches {if you can’t decide what to put in your sandwich, get the “Combo” with salami, sopressata,  capicola, and mozzarella}, but it’s even better to eat it straight. It’s soft and mellow, with a subtle taste of cream. Compared to the mozzarella from other delis, it may be slightly saltier, but this is totally a matter of personal preference.

The deli has a large selection of gourmet Italian groceries, such as whole legs of prosciutto di parma, wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, dried pasta of all shapes and sizes, red pepper and artichoke hearts packed in olive oil, and a big selection of truffle products. And of course, there are sweets — biscotti, chocolates, freshly-stuffed cannoli, and during the holiday season, big boxes of panettone stacked on the counter.

Read more: A Guide to Classic Italian Desserts in Hoboken

Milano’s Deli {41 Montgomery Street}

The Newport and Exchange Place area doesn’t have many old Italian delis, so Milano’s is a nice neighborhood fixture for office workers and commuters nearby. The small, no-frills lunch spot serves most of the regular items in a  typical Italian deli, such as cold cut mozzarella sandwiches and chicken parmesan, but the item to order here is the chicken bruschetta hero. Meaty, garlicky, and flavor-filled, the overstuffed sandwich is packed with flavor. Plus, it’s huge, and costs only $8.

Carmine’s Italian Deli {165 Mallory Avenue}

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{Photo credit: @carminesitaliandeli}

Located in the West End neighborhood, this old neighborhood establishment is famous for its classic Italian-American hot dishes. Come around lunchtime and the place is buzzing with eaters. A few of them grumble a little about the wait, but they keep coming over the years, if not decades. Many customers go to Carmine’s, especially for their huge chicken parmesan sandwiches. The chicken itself is supple and tender, with the right amount of bite. The outside of the Italian bread is crunchy and sturdy, and the very light inside of it traps the steam, fat, and velvety red sauce. Ask for an extra serving of the sauce to dip your sandwich in it. It’s so flavorful that it’s good on its own.

Alternatively,  get the chicken parmesan plate, with baked ziti or broccoli rabe. The deli is loved for its hearty hot dishes, some local favorites include penne vodka, meatballs, and lasagna, all generously portioned. If you are really hungry, start your meal with an appetizer of Caprese salad, made with fresh mozzarella. The deli also takes catering orders. The heaping charcuterie plates with high-quality cold cuts and cheese will make a crowd-pleasing centerpiece of your dinner table.

See more: Charcuterie and Cheeseboards in Hoboken + Jersey City

Pecoraro Antique Bakery {279 Newark Avenue}

For baked goods, go to this family-run store tucked away in the busy downtown area of Jersey City. This quaint, cozy bakery sells all kinds of Italian cookies, brick-oven baked Italian bread, as well as sandwiches made to order. The focaccia is airy, with the right amount of crisp to it. If you are looking for something more savory or substantial, make sure to get the stuffed bread — meat {such as prosciutto or pepperoni}, cheese {such as mozzarella}, and relishes {olives or spinach} are rolled into chewy bread. Bite into the stretchy pastry and taste the bursts of flavors. For a quick bite on a rushed morning commute, just grab a buttered roll and coffee. The honest taste will cheer you up even on a cold Monday morning. 

Have you been to one of these delis in Jersey City? What did you get? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by:

Yiwei was born and raised in China. She has lived extensively in Beijing and Hong Kong, before finally settling down in New York. She moved to Hoboken after a few years in Westchester and immediately felt at home here. Two years ago, she left her job at an investment bank to travel the world and explore her interests, and has since then taken on a few freelancing gigs in career coaching, college admission consulting, and writing. When she is not wandering wildly in the streets of Europe, Asia, or Latin America, she can be found sipping an espresso in one of Hoboken's coffee shops or trying out restaurants in Hoboken and Jersey City area.