I think I was Italian in a previous life – what else would explain my love of Italian grocery stores and cuisine, Italian art, Italian designers, and the country itself. I traveled to Italy twice in the early 1980s and fell in love with Venice and Florence. But alas, time passed and obligations piled up over the years and I have not been back to glorious Italia. For now I have to satiate my quest for unusual Italian food products by frequenting the best damn Italian deli this side of the Atlantic Ocean! And listening to Louis Prima when the mood strikes. So twice a year we drive to Kenosha and thoroughly enjoy shopping at Tenuta’s Deli, a Kenosha tradition since 1950.
A few weeks ago we decided to forgo our usual cheap hamburgers at Big Star Drive-In and try a Panini sandwich at Tenuta’s. Our outdoor eating experience at Tenuta’s was hampered a bit by the heavy winds that day and the insanely rough picnic tables/benches. A word to the wise – don’t rub up against the pebbly cement surface – it is so rough that you might rip your clothing. But I digress – this was the best Panini sandwich we have ever eaten – the bread was thick and perfectly grilled, and the contents absolutely delizioso. It was certainly worth the $4.99 price and made the Panini sandwiches we have eaten at Buona Beef and Panera taste like cardboard. We also discovered the delicious Point Premium Vanilla Cream Soda by Stevens Point Brewery. This delightfully smooth soda perfectly complemented the toasted-to-perfection Panini.
So what did we purchase on this trip? A must on each visit: Caramel Mounties Licorice, made in Holland – these unique candies satisfy my Dutch licorice addiction, but blend a subtle caramel coating with mild licorice filling. We couldn’t leave without a bag of French Burnt Peanuts, unsalted mixed nuts on clearance, Licorice Snaps, and a small block of Cello Riserva Artisan Parmesan cheese. That cream soda was so good we bought a 4-pack, as well as a 4-pack of Premium Point Root Beer and 6-pack of Point Nude Beach Summer Wheat Ale. I don’t care much for most wheat ales, but this one is very pleasant with a hint of pear, citrus, coriander and clove and just the right amount of yeast.
Looking for canned tomatoes and tomato pastes, Italian coffee, gourmet flours, fresh and packaged pastas, imported candies, unique chocolates, deli meats, spices galore, or a good selection of beer? You will find these in spades at Tenuta’s. How many stores sell Artichoke flour, chocolate-covered biscotti, an entire aisle of tomato products, a huge selection of canned fish/seafood, and an amazing array of Roland gourmet food products? You can find these at this wonderful Kenosha tradition and much more. And if you get a bellyache after eating all these delicacies, pick up Brioschi, an Italian remedy for an upset stomach, available in adult and children’s varieties!