Louie Yannello serves all the food he grew up eating in his Italian household: stuffed peppers, artichokes, salads, pastas and breads.
“I have my own style of cooking, but it all comes from my mother, mainly,” said Yannello, owner of Louie’s Deli & Imports. “She would tell me, ‘If you like to eat, you’re going to have to learn how to cook.’ ”
His parents started the deli and small grocery business in 1991. It was being around them, and his grandparents, that taught him everything he knows about food. Today, Yannello carries on their legacy. Everything is made from scratch.
The deli is not in an ostentatious location. Its located a little past the Main and Transit intersection in a plaza on the left, near the border between Amherst and Clarence.
It’s the kind of place where the ladies behind the counter will joke with you while you wait for your order and where Yannello will say hi to the regulars by name. We ordered so much food on our recent visit that the woman taking our order asked if it was all for us. Well, yes. Reporting on Italian food is a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
Customers order at one end of the counter, pay at the other and then wait for the food. Half the establishment is the deli, and on the other side is an eating area with tables. Throughout both sides are shelves filled with imported Italian products, such as pastas, olive oils and vinegars.
We took our bounty and found a table to accommodate all of it. It included the following: stuffed artichoke ($6.99), stuffed pepper ($10.99 per pound), chicken and pasta soup ($3.99), fried cod dinner ($11.99), eggplant Parmesan sandwich ($6.49) and two dessert items, a slice of carrot cake ($4.49) and a pineapple square ($3.99).
Louie’s is one of the few places in Buffalo where you can get a stuffed artichoke from a deli counter, and it’s the best I’ve had. Each leaf is generously stuffed with a mixture of seasoned bread crumbs and cheese. The peppers also are one of the more popular items. It comes stuffed with a cheesy bread crumb mixture, charred in the oven and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.
The chicken soup, made from homemade stock, was flavorful and chock full of carrots, chicken and pasta - the perfect antidote to a wintry day. The fried cod dinner featured a large piece of seasoned, baked fish and two sides from the deli. The eggplant sandwich could have been elevated if the eggplant had a better coating. It seemed to be just flour.
Louie’s also offers an assortment of hot and cold subs and specialty sandwiches ($6.49-$9.49). Specialty breads ($4.49 per half pound), stuffed with various cheeses and meats, also are worthy contenders for anyone’s lunch or dinner orders.
Don’t leave Louie’s without trying something from the dessert menu. Just don’t. The carrot cake was, outside my mom’s, the best I’ve ever had. It was moist on the inside with plenty of carrot flavor, a nutty crunch and thick coating of frosting.
“We have businessmen coming in across the street from the car dealership, and we get the little old Italian ladies coming in for our cookies and cannolis,” said Yannello, noting how loyal his regular following is. “We have something for everyone.”
8202 Main St. (632-4906)
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Gluten-free options: frittatas, chowder soups, various salads.
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