Post by Aleda
These two stores are both so great that I really struggled with combining them into one post, but realized that for some of our readers the fact that the two are almost next door to each other may make them each all the more enticing. Mario’s Meats & Gourmet Deli and Colombo’s Fruits are located on the same block of Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village, Queens. Middle Village is a family neighborhood that is also the midway point between Williamsburg, Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens; hence the neighborhood’s name. To quote the New York Times:
It’s a neighborhood where the mothers pushing strollers through the various parks are actually strolling. No texting. No ramping up cardio. Nary an iPod in sight. The lack of a Whole Foods or Citarella is made up for by a scattershot assortment of specialty stores: bakers, butchers and grocers run less by district managers and more by local shopkeepers who know your name and your children’s names.
Middle Village is a quiet little neighborhood whose specialty stores make it worth a nice trip in the afternoon, two of which are described below. There isn’t a plethora of public transportation there but you can catch the Q54 bus from Queens & Brooklyn that runs Metropolitan Ave, or take the M train to the Metropolitan Ave stop, the first or final stop of the line depending on your starting point. There is also plenty of street parking. And for those with a morbid or mob curiosity (or both) you can find the graves of the infamous John Gotti and Lucky Luciano in the nearby St. John’s Cemetery.
Mario’s Meats & Gourmet Deli
Mario’s is an Italian deli, butcher & specialty food store and the self-proclaimed “King of homemade sausage.” I can attest to the fact that their fennel sausage is heavenly. Mario’s was founded by Mario himself, who grew up outside of Palermo, Italy and moved to the States with his family and worked in butcher shops in Brooklyn. The store boasts all natural meats including organic chicken and nothing less than Grade A Prime & Angus cuts of meat at incredibly reasonable prices for the quality. Never again will I pay exorbitant prices at a name store for organic meats when I can get it straight from the butcher here. They also have specialty pastas & sauces as well as imported cheeses and a decent selection of fresh breads. I really couldn’t have been happier with my market experience here, and my husband is now obsessed too. All in all I spent about $24 for 1.5 lbs of homemade fennel sausage, 1.5 lbs of fresh-cut organic chicken legs, 1 lb of grade A chuck steak, 1 lb of kalamata olives, a bag of penne, and a fresh semolina roll. That’s a great deal if you ask me, and every single morsel of food I made at home was AMAZING.
Photos of Mario’s below followed by Colombo’s Fruit (a must see):
Colombo’s is listed on the About.com Middle Village page as the best Fruit & Vegetable market in the area. It’s a neighbor to Mario’s, it’s small and it has a fading sign. There’s something about the storefront that seems like it’s directly from another time and gives it a sense of romantic nostalgia. Adding to that nostalgic romanticism is the fact that the store is filled with old Italian shoppers including an adorable old couple seemingly bickering about which of the beans to purchase in Italian.
The selection isn’t huge, but what they have is of good quality. The broccoli rabe is fresh, and they have a selection of specialty dried nuts and beans, as well as homemade baccala (which I am most definitely going back for). They also carry Italian specialties and pasta, have an olive bar, and a small but decent selection of imported cheeses. The fruit that I bought at Colombo’s was ripe and fresh, and most importantly didn’t turn in a day which means we actually got to eat it all. The golden delicious apples were also the best I’ve gotten anywhere in the city this year, although I have no idea where they get them from. The prices weren’t the best nor the worst, but I will say that you can often get more mileage out of moderately priced produce than the cheapest (which goes bad about 7 hours after it hits your fridge) which makes more sense wallet wise. I definitely recommend this produce store and plan on making return trips myself.
Mario’s Meats & Gourmet Deli: 75-53 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, Queens
Colombo’s Fruits: 75-49 Metropolitan Avenue, Middle Village, Queens