Food News

Short Stop: Italian Sandwiches at Carmine Lonardo's

This deli has been open since 1976.
This deli has been open since 1976. Molly Martin
Denver's dining scene is making a big comeback — and we're hungering to go out. With so many new ventures and old favorites to visit after more than a year of restaurant shutdowns and restrictions, the choices can be overwhelming. So we're serving up Short Stop, with recommendations for things that should definitely be on your culinary short list. This week, head to Lakewood for sandwiches at family-owned Italian deli Carmine Lonardo's.

What: Carmine Lonardo's

Where: 7585 West Florida Avenue, Lakewood

When: Open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; sandwiches are served until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. on Saturday, or until bread sells out


For more info: Visit carminelonardosmeatmarket.com
click to enlarge Load up on all kinds of Italian culinary delights while you pick up your sandwiches. - MOLLY MARTIN
Load up on all kinds of Italian culinary delights while you pick up your sandwiches.
Molly Martin
The place: After immigrating to the United States in 1956 and spending years working in a meatpacking plant in Denver until it closed in the 1970s, Carmine Lonardo Sr. opened this deli in 1976. The specialty of the house: Italian sausage. Today, 10,000 pounds of it is made here weekly by the Lonardo family.

The shop is located in a nondescript brick building in Lakewood near a liquor store and a Goodwill outlet There's a steady stream of customers coming through the door, and most make a beeline straight for the deli counter to order meats, cheeses, baked goods like cookies and bread and, of course, sandwiches. But you could get lost just in the entryway, which is lined with shelves of every pasta shape imaginable. Then there's the olive oil collection, as well as canned goods and freezers stocked with even more options to take home.

If you're walking in hungry — which you should be — it's pretty easy to end up at the order-taking counter with an armful of goods with which to stock your kitchen. And if you're from the East Coast, this place is an immediate comfort fix.
click to enlarge Two-foot-long sandwiches are perfect for sharing. - MOLLY MARTIN
Two-foot-long sandwiches are perfect for sharing.
Molly Martin
What you're eating: Sandwiches. Specifically, the Italian sausage sandwich, made with Carmine Lonardo's signature item. It's served simply, on a baguette and smothered in homemade red sauce with provolone and peppers (if you ask for them). The freshly baked bread is sturdy enough to hold everything, although you'll need a pile of napkins, since there's no way to stop sauce from slathering your face and hands as you eat.

The interior has a few tables if you want to devour your haul inside, though no one will judge you if you take your sandwich to the parking lot for an al fresco, car-side feast (that's the route I took on a recent visit with a group that brought along a camping table for a parking-lot picnic).


Sandwiches are available in three sizes: "I'm Hungry" (8 inches for $11.99), "I'm Starving" (12 inches — but "don't call it a foot long," the website notes — for $15.99) and "The Italian Way" (24 inches, or a full baguette, for $27.99). The two-foot variety is ideal for sharing, unless you have a side job as a competitive eater.

Once you've gotten a taste of the Italian sausage — a lesson in simple food, done well and perfected over decades — there's a whole menu of other options to try. The classic Italian combo, with capocollo, salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone, is fully loaded with freshly sliced deli meats. The Godfather 2 is a combo of a different kind, heaping with both Italian sausage and Italian beef, then loaded with hot giardiniera.

There are nineteen sandwich options in total, from meatball to egg salad. But there's a reason the Italian sausage is king here, and it's one of those things you just need to taste to fully understand. 
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Molly Martin is the Westword Food & Drink editor. She’s been writing about the dining scene in Denver since 2013, and was eating her way around the city long before that. She enjoys long walks to the nearest burrito joint and nights spent sipping cocktails on Colfax.
Contact: Molly Martin