With more than thirty years in business, Deli Italia Pizzeria & Market, at 1990 Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood, has been a longtime favorite with neighbors, but since September 4 the place has been under new ownership. Newlyweds Chris and Lindsay Lyons purchased the market and deli from Robert Boffa, who had in turn taken over when original owner Riccardo Pacini retired several years ago. In fact, the sale of the business and the wedding came so close together that the couple had to take a raincheck on their honeymoon.
The two world travelers bring their love for great food and their many years in the hospitality industry to the Old World market, which was overdue for a makeover and some TLC. But customers needn't worry; they’re keeping all the mainstays, including the traditional deli sandwiches, shelves full of imported goods and a deli case filled with meats and cheeses. Chris and Lindsay note that Deli Italia will not lose its identity as a premier market for great products and friendly service, but they also realized that it could be more than just a market — so they're turning it into a Lakewood dining destination. They have a vision, and as Lindsay puts it, “We just fell in love with the place — it’s our baby.”
The remodel has already begun, with new paint, artwork and tables, and coming early next year will be a new bar with a full liquor license. The new owners hope the addition of an expanded dining room and bar will make a great neighborhood meeting place where patrons can sit and enjoy good company along with great food and drinks. To help keep the deli grounded in tradition, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin will be among the crooners filling the space with music.
The new dining room wouldn’t mean much without attention to the food, and the Lyonses say they are dedicated to artisan quality — doing all the prep by hand and all the cooking from scratch using high-quality ingredients. One of their focuses is the pizza; pies start with a dough made with Italian 00 flour and olive oil, which is risen for two days to develop more flavor. The dough is hand-stretched to order, topped with housemade sauce and toppings like prosciutto, sausage and hand-pulled mozzarella.
Sandwiches are built on bread from Trompeau Bakery, using sauces, spreads and condiments made in-house, including olive paste, “Dante” habanero paste, spinach sautéed with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes, and spicy giardiniera, which rises above the status of mere condiment through a time-consuming process of dicing, salting and fermenting squash, peppers, onions, celery, carrots, chiles and several varieties of cauliflower. The giardiniera adds a burst of flavor and heat to the signature sandwich, the Deli Italia Dragon, along with shaved ham, salami, capicolla, provolone, lettuce, tomatoes and house dressing. Fortunately, you can buy the zingy mixture by the pound to take home and top your own sandwiches.
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Hot sandwiches are also offered with sausage or succulent housemade meatballs. Other customer favorites such as lasagna, ravioli, antipasti platters and prepared salads are available for catering or takeout. Lindsay grew up in an Italian family in North Boston and has been cooking Italian food her whole life (including several months in Italy). She's also an accomplished baker and plans to add more desserts, pies and pastries to the current menu of tiramisu and crisp-shelled cannoli, which come in pistachio, almond and chocolate chip flavors.
Chris grew up in Germany and brings with him a love for sausage, charcuterie and craft beer. The two point out that the recipes they inherited from the previous owner left just enough wiggle room to please returning customers while also putting their own spin on things with more modern Italian cooking. While Lindsay and Chris aren't Colorado natives, they both graduated from college here and lived in Colorado Springs (where they met) before purchasing the deli.
The Lyonses plan to have the new bar installed in January and hope that regulars take the remodeling in stride. And once everything's in place, maybe they'll get around to taking that well-earned honeymoon.
Deli Italia Pizzeria & Market is located at 1990 Wadsworth Boulevard in Lakewood and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. For more information call 303-248-7208 or visit the Deli Italia website.