Monday, August 4, 2014

DiPasquale's Italian Marketplace - Baltimore, MD

100 years ago, Luigi DiPasquale Sr. opened an Italian corner grocery store in Batlimore's Highlandtown neighborhood.


Over the years, DiPasquale's has blossomed into an Italian market and eatery. Today, the family owned and operated store still offers the same high quality Italian items that locals love. Like many others, my grandparents have been customers for years, but some people come from far away to stock up on Italian goodies.

In fact, DiPasquale's is known nationally. It's been featured not once but TWICE on the Food Network  Guy Fieri's show (click here for video) and on Lidia's Italy in America show (see minute 14). Both celebrities were blown away by the authentic Italian food. It's impressive when two cooking legends come for a visit.

We couldn't wait to visit DiPasquale's.  From the outside, the building doesn't look like it could house a famous Italian Marketplace with such a big reputation.  However, you'll be surprised how big it actually is inside.

When I walked in, my eyes almost popped out of my head. Everywhere I looked there were mouthwatering authentic Italian items - seemingly endless varieties of olives, fresh mozzarella, imported cheese, stunning homemade prepared food and hanging cured meats at the deli counter.

In refrigerated and freezer cases there were an assortment of fresh pasta, pasta sauces, cookies, cakes and cannoli. On the grocery shelves there were dried pastas in all shapes and sizes, imported Italian goods....really anything and everything Italian is in this store.

 Looking at the food made me crazy hungry, but it was the aroma
 of the freshly baked bread that really made my mouth water.

Sicilian rice ball with meat and fresh mozzarella center 

My family headed to the deli counter where we ordered our food for lunch.

Roasted red and yellow peppers 

Cubanella sandwich


For appetizers, we ordered an Arancini and a side of yellow and red roasted peppers. The Sicilian rice ball was incredible. How could something so simple taste so good!
We ate the peppers -  melt in your mouth, garlicky roasted goodness - using the homemade bread to soaking up all the delicious juices.

I ordered the Cubanella sandwich. Mamma mia was it good! Ham, prosciutto, sautéed onions, lettuce, tomato, hots, and dijion mustard were the framework of this sandwich. The blend of sweet sautéed onions, well seasoned, moist pork with the crunchy bread was heaven in my mouth.  I was only sad that this sandwich was a daily special when it should be a staple on the everyday menu - it's that good.

Eggplant Lasagna
My grandma ordered the Chicken Parmigiana sandwich.  A seasoned breaded chicken cutlet covered with marinara sauce and melted provolone cheese. A classic that didn't disappoint.

My grandpa ordered a dish of Gnocchi with marinara sauce - one of the daily specials. The thick, but delicate and soft pasta paired with a sweet tomato sauce was delicious.

My mom is a huge eggplant fan. So, it was no surprise she ordered the eggplant lasagna. She was in heaven - couldn't get enough of the thinly sliced layers of eggplant melded together to form a dense but fork tender mile high lasagna. Oh, yeah, she wants to come just for this dish.
Large Meatball Sub 

Charles's needed a forklift to eat his large meatball sub. This is not just a big sub, it is the BIGGEST sub we have ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice. It could literially feed a small village. He lost count on how many tender meatballs with sweet tomato sauce and melted cheese were stuffed into a ginormous half loaf of bread. Charles ate this sandwich with a fork.  Even his mouth was too small for the mighty meatball sub. In the end, Charles took home half of the sub - and that was after a few of us had a taste.

For dessert, we all split the Panettone Bread Pudding. Panettone is a classic Italian style sweet bread that is eaten all year long but most popular at Christmastime.  I liked this twist on traditional bread pudding.  Served cold, with a generous portion of whipped cream on top of it, I loved it. In fact, I think I ate more than my share of it.

I wish this restaurant was in my neighborhood because I would go there all the time. But regardless of how long it takes me to get to the Highlandtown store, DiPasquale's is worth the drive.

Bravo DiPasquale's!!!!!  Cent'anni (Italian saying for wishing you another 100 years)

- Thomas

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