It’s been in the works for a decade, but a Central Valley tradition — Piemonte’s Italian Delicatessen — has finally expanded to the Central Coast.
Established in Fresno’s Tower District in 1929, the deli was purchased from the original owners in 2001 by customers Neil and Nancy Eberwein, who kept all the authentic, old-school traditions.
In December, the Eberweins partnered with longtime friends and San Luis Obispo residents Gary and Sue Nichols to open the deli’s second location in San Luis Obispo. (Longtime indeed — Neil and Gary met in the sixth grade.)
“We all talked about doing this for 10 years,” said Sue Nichols, who spent many years working at another Italian deli in Southern California. The friends’ plan became a reality when a location became available on upper Monterey Street that offered proximity to downtown and ample parking.
The bright and roomy deli occupies part of a fully remodeled complex on what was the site of Daylight Home, Lighting and Patio before that business moved a few blocks up Monterey. Off-street parking is shared with several other businesses, and spaces can usually be found along the street as well.
Seating is available at three outdoor tables, but patrons should think of Piemonte’s mainly as a takeout place.
When it comes to the food at Piemonte’s, “It’s all exactly the same product(s), and all the recipes are the same,” Nichols said. “We essentially cloned it.”
That extends to using the same Fresno companies that have been supplying the deli for years, such as a Basque bakery that delivers freshly baked breads several times a week. The from-scratch pastas come from “a place in Fresno where that’s all they do,” she said.
Other items — sausages, sauces and a majority of the deli salads — are made at the San Luis Obispo location. Daily soup choices include minestrone and Italian wedding soup; entrees such as lasagna and eggplant parmesan are also available, as are traditional desserts such as tiramisu and cannoli.
Of course, this being an old-school Italian delicatessen, there are cheeses and cold cuts galore, most of which find their way into Piemonte’s hearty sandwiches. Again, it’s the same lineup as the Fresno location.
Among the most popular of the almost 30 choices are the hot pastrami and the Piemonte Special with dry and cooked salami, ham, mortadella and provolone cheese on a French roll. Other options range from corned beef and capicola to prosciutto and pepperoni, from chicken salad to vegetarian.
Most sandwiches come with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, wax peppers, mustard and mayo.
In addition to all the familiar meats and cheeses, Piemonte’s well-stocked cases offer some harder-to-find products as well.
You’ll find imported provolone, teleme and domestic dry Jack cheeses. And this is the place to go for thuringer, capicola, red coppa, black coppa, pancetta and head cheese — which isn’t actually “cheese” but a type of pork terrine.
Piemonte’s also carries a wide variety of dried and frozen items so you can create an Italian feast at home. Many varieties of canned tomatoes are available, as are lupini beans, giardinieri, semolina flour, pizzelle and several types of imported dried pastas.
Among the frozen pasta for sale are tortellini and ravioli, while the frozen sauces include pesto and red sauces such as meat, veggie and vodka. There’s even frozen pizza dough.
By all accounts, San Luis Obispo is welcoming Piemonte’s with open arms and hungry appetites. Despite a relatively quiet opening, “We’ve already done quite a bit of catering (with deli trays and sandwich platters),” Nichols said, adding that customers seem to relish all the trappings and tastes of an authentic Italian delicatessen.
Piemonte’s Italian Delicatessen
1234 Monterey St., Suite 120, San Luis Obispo 548-8518 | piemontesdelislo.com (currently, website is only for the Fresno store; prices and other details may vary slightly)
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sunday.
The scene: A bright, clean deli with ample parking and three outdoor tables.
The cuisine: Authentic Italian delicatessen with cheeses, cold cuts, pastas, housemade sausages and sauces, sandwiches and deli trays.
Expect to spend: Sandwiches $7-$9.25, housemade pasta entrées about $7, deli and sandwich trays $40-$80.