Do you love delis that have loads of hard to find, imported goods, hot food, home made sausages, and hand crafted desserts? Do you prefer friendly, personal service over having someone shout out to a crowd “NUMBER 984?” I have just the spot for you! Felice Italian Pork Store and Deli is ensconced in a shopping plaza on US-19 in Clearwater. I know what you’re thinking….please not US-19, the road that can’t decide if it wants to be a highway or interstate or simply a construction zone. This mom and pop shop is more than equal to any aggravation travel may bring (and the part of US-19 it’s on isn’t bad at all.) I spent a good ten minutes ogling the variety of foods, condiments, and wines before remembering I had come to actually order food. One of the people there, an energetic Italian woman with a heartwarming accent, was so amazingly cheery and gracious to every person that walked in, you instantly felt like you were being welcomed into your grandmother’s home after not seeing her for a few dozen years. I warn you, if she’s there when you go, the urge to hug her will be strong.
There was such an array of things to choose from, Laura and I decided to get vastly different meals and to also split one. Laura picked the eggplant parmigiana sub. She actually ordered a half sub, but even that was large enough to take some home. Freshly baked eggplant, it’s purple meatiness liberally sprinkled with parmesan cheese and touched off by a dipper of tangy marinara sauce, nestled in the center of a soft sub roll. Laura loves eggplant and this sub was right up her alley!
For myself, I went with a very unusual item: a rice ball. This wonderful entrée is new to me but is quickly becoming a favorite! It is pretty much what it sounds like, a giant ball of rice that is cooked so that the rice is soft, but with a slight firmness that hints at crunchy but doesn’t quite make it there. Ground beef and peas are stuffed inside while the outside is breaded and fried, then topped with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella. The entire thing is then briefly baked. You won’t be able to “just have a bite.” Laura didn’t finish her meal because she was busy tearing into mine (anyone sense a trend here?) There wasn’t anything left of the poor rice ball by the time we exited the building.
Laura and I shared the third course, veal parmigiana. Neither of us had eaten veal in a very long time and, once we saw the patties in the glass case, we knew we had to rectify the situation. The veal, dipped in egg, dredged in bread crumbs, browned in olive oil, and then baked, was an earthly delight. It was well prepared and had a slight chew to it (poorly prepped and cooked veal can be exceedingly tough as it is lower in fat than your usual beef.) The breading, marinara, and cheese did not overwhelm the veal’s inherently mild, clean flavor but instead gave it added depth. As I sit here nibbling on the leftovers, I can attest that the veal reheats surprisingly well (just don’t overdo it or it will turn into a hockey puck since it is so incredibly lean.) I am reminded again of why I loved this store and why I will go back.
At Felice Italian Pork Store and Deli, you receive great quality food with one on one service. They have a few tables to sit down at and enjoy your meal while it’s hot. You can also get quite a few of their home made items, like the soups, frozen for another day. There are a bevy of imports to purchase, most of which are straight from Italy, such as pastas, wines, olive oils, mushrooms, and sauces. So if a flight to Italy is too expensive, go visit Felice for a small taste of what the boot is all about.
Felice Italian Pork Store and Deli
Clearwater, FL 33761