Arts & Entertainment

Restaurant Spotlight: The Italian Store

I must have been by this place a few hundred times going to my grandfather’s house as a boy, but never once bothered to stop in. Maybe it was pride, probably it was laziness, but in this new year there is no time for laziness. There is only time for eating food and being mad at myself for not exercising to counteract the effects of eating said food. In any case, I finally made the effort to go to the Italian Store, and proceeded to hit myself for not going sooner.

I must have been by this place a few hundred times going to my grandfather’s house as a boy, but never once bothered to stop in. Maybe it was pride, probably it was laziness, but in this new year there is no time for laziness. There is only time for eating food and being mad at myself for not exercising to counteract the effects of eating said food. In any case, I finally made the effort to go to the Italian Store, and proceeded to hit myself for not going sooner.

Located in an otherwise typical strip mall just off of 66, the Italian Store can provide customers with any and seemingly all food and wine items from Italy, no matter how rare. While the News-Press does not have the budget to allow me to sample some of the $100 and up bottles of what I can only imagine to be incredible wine, I did sample a variety of food stuffs and discovered that a person could easily spend years trying to eat everything this institution has to offer.

The Capri sub, a monster sub packed with prosciutto, genoa salami, provolone cheese and spiced capacola ham, is something you would eat if the Chinese government took over, banned all huge delicious subs (for the harmonious well-being of the people, of course) and you couldn’t find any tanks to stand in front of but still wanted to rebel against our evil overlords. The price was a bit steep at $7 for a regular-sized sandwich and $8 for a large, but you can guarantee that the sandwich you’re getting is a quality piece of art. You can get it on whatever bread you like, but I got it on a long soft Italian roll and I don’t regret it for a second. Neither will you.

If a deli has pastrami, I am biologically and psychologically compelled to get it. So when I saw hot pastrami and noticed that there was spicy mustard and a gigantic jar of hot peppers, I knew I was in the right place. The hot pastrami on rye may not be quite as good as an authentic Katz’s pastrami on rye, but at $7, it’s half the price of a Katz’s sandwich (I don’t care if Harry met Sally there, $15 for a sandwich is a human rights violation) and more than suitable for the Northern Virginia area. Also, it’ll fill you up.

As it was less than an hour before closing on a weeknight and I did not have the willpower to eat an entire pizza, I had to get a sampling. Because it was almost closing time, I’m going to say that the pizza (a slice of the white and a spinach and cheese) is probably pretty good when it’s fresh. I don’t know if I’d order it by itself, but if you’re there getting sandwiches anyway, you might as well get a pizza to accompany them.

To finish off this feast, I needed sugar, and the fantasy bar, essentially a white brownie with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, vanilla and caramel, was the absolute right thing. With a few seconds in a microwave, it could send you into a bliss coma, as can everything else in this place.

The Italian Store is located at 3123 Lee Highway, Arlington.  Restaurant hours are Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Saturday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. For more information, call 703-528-6266 or visit italianstore.com.