When it comes to Italian deli-style food, simple and tasty are what counts. Whether you just need a quick stop for a delicious bite to eat or you’re actively seeking that Italian comfort food you know and love, this is your need-to-know list of the best places for authentic Italian delis in the district. Scattered throughout the capital are these wonderfully low-key establishments serving up the tastiest peppers, olives, oils and of course, sandwiches. Let these modest gems become your go-to source for all Italian deli needs.
517 Morse St NE
Washington, DC 20002
One of the Capital’s most popular places for authentic Italian cuisine since 1926, A Litteri has everything from wine to olive oils, sauces and pastas, specialty sodas and of course, sandwiches. These generous providers of Italian goods regularly offer samplings of the deli meats and cheeses to the polite but unsure customer. But you really can’t go wrong with A Litteri. Whether you are in the mood for any of the fresh or hard pasta that fills the store or a salami and prosciutto sandwich, A Litteri will satisfy your Italian itch. With some of the best sales prices for good wine in the city, A Litteri provides the complete Italian meal experience. This is your Italian deli to eat, drink and stock up the pantry with the finest of Italian imports. With delightful sights, smells and tastes, this shop and deli greatly makes up for its deceptively lackluster outside appearance.
2600 Crystal Drive #1
Arlington, VA 22202
This tiny deli spot is offering up the freshest in Italian salads, sandwiches and pizzas. Only the freshest ingredients go into Bozzelli’s tasty creations. With an assortment of salads featuring deliciously-pickled artichokes, handmade mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh parsley and basil, Bozzelli’s offers a healthy alternative to satisfy your deli cravings. The caprici salad features juicy, sweet cherry tomatoes mixed with the freshest handmade mozzarella and generously sprinkled with parsley and extra virgin olive oil, all for under $5. The hand-tossed pizzas are oozing with fresh cheeses and dripping with perfectly-seasoned sauce. Real Italian toppings like Genoa salami accompany the usual pepperoni, sausage and mushroom offerings. The prosciutto and mozzarella with roasted red pepper sandwich beckons from across the counter. Bozzelli’s variety of sandwich options are available in two sizes: medium/regular for around $7 to $8 and large for around $9 to $10. The limited indoor and outdoor seating makes Bozzelli’s best for takeout almost any time of day with morning and evening hours. If your deli craving strikes early, Bozzelli’s will not disappoint with its variety of breakfast sandwiches. Bozzelli’s is also available in Alexandria and Springfield, Virginia. See the website for details.
Mangialardo & Sons
1317 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003
This busy mom-and-pop deli shop has been a Capital favorite for years. Delightful scents of warm breads and freshly-sliced meats and cheeses greet you at the door. The no-fuss decor adds a simplistic and authentic deli charm. Offering huge proportions in sandwiches, Mangialardo & Sons will not allow you to leave hungry. Fill up on its gargantuan meatball sub, slathered in a well-seasoned sauce and dripping with cheese. Or try the popular GMan cold cut with everything on it. Its reputation for delicious lunchtime options is well known throughout the Capital, so be prepared to stand in line. This cash-only dining spot is well worth the wait and won’t break the bank. With breakfast sandwiches and omelets under $5 and enormous lunchtime subs under $8, Mangialardo & Sons believes that great food doesn’t need to cost a fortune.
Related: Best Italian Food In DC
Santucci’s Italian Delicatessen
10107 Colesville Road
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Santucci’s knows that the best way to enjoy a great Italian sub requires a low-key and casual atmosphere. This bare-bones sandwich shop leaves the glamor to the food. A friendly cashier takes your order with a smile and quickly brings you a precious feast for the senses. For starters, the antipasto salad is filled with chunks of ham and salami, adorned with punches of pepper jack and mozzarella, then finished with a decadent dressing of salty parmesan and pecorino romano in olive oil. From the decorated “everything” Italian cold cut to the hearty reuben, these sandwiches delight the senses. Crunchy bread surrounds generous-sized morsels of seasoned deli meats, mouth-watering cheeses and are perfectly balanced with dressings of oils, herbs and pickled condiments such as olives, banana peppers and hot peppers. Offering a wide variety of 10-inch to 12-inch subs, small and large salads, pizzas as well as an assortment of imported Italian products including Sun of Italy and De Cecco pastas, sauces and olives, Santucci’s will satisfy your every Italian comfort-food craving. With sandwich prices ranging from $6 to $9, it’s affordable too.
3315 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20008
Delicious wafts of fresh-baked focaccia breads and spicy salamis flood the senses as you enter Vace Italian Delicatessen. With a variety of offerings from sandwiches and pizzas to imported hard pastas and handmade fresh pastas, Vace provides the ultimate in Italian deli cuisine. Whether you are planning a romantic and authentic pasta dinner or you just want a quick bite to eat, Vace meets all your needs. Its pizza by the slice is casually wrapped in tin foil but decadently decorated with goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, pancetta and every other delicious topping imaginable. The prosciutto di Parma sandwich, featuring thinly-sliced prosciutto from Italy, is best with everything on it. The prosciutto is so thin and delicate that it melts in your mouth. Accompanied by creamy provolone cheese, fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce and spicy-hot peppers, this sandwich turns your quick bite for lunch into a luxurious experience for your taste buds. But Vace’s charm goes well beyond taste and smell. Soccer balls and hard salamis hang from the ceiling. Intricately-stacked imported Italian products surround the perimeter. With so much to see, taste and smell, it’s no wonder that Vace offers no seating – it would simply be too overwhelming and too crowded.
Related: Best Pizza In Washington, D.C.
Kayleigh Bryant is a D.C. native, traveler, foodie, artist and frequent museum visitor. Her lifelong fascination with art has moved her to explore the themes, techniques and media artists have employed to express their ideas. Kayleigh has earned a Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.