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Once upon a time in Brooklyn, you couldn’t throw a veal and pork meatball without hitting a latticini selling fresh mozzarella, or an Italian deli serving overstuffed heroes.
Now, finding a classic salumeria in the borough is like finding dinosaur bones at a random construction site.
That’s why Marcello Bucca and Enzo Conigliaro — two Bensonhurst boys — have opened Zito’s Sandwich Shop. The pair sees the Seventh Avenue joint as nothing less than a love letter to the fast disappearing focaccerias and delis of their youth.
“Brooklyn has gone through a major change. The people that appreciate this food as much as we do are no longer here,” said Bucca. “So we’re reviving our food culture by spreading it to other neighborhoods, and using the best ingredients possible.”
Yes, the new venue is in Park Slope, but the pair has gone to great lengths to pay respect to their roots — sourcing bread from Il Fornaretto, a Bensonhurst staple since 1927, and sausage from Faicco’s Pork Store, which has been keeping Dyker Heights in deli meat since 1917.
The duo even managed to recover a 45-year-old “King of Sausage” sign from Bari Pork Store on 18th Avenue, when it shuttered in 2009.
“It feels amazing to have these relics around us — from the era those traditional salumerias we grew up with and admired were just being formed,” Bucca said.
Naturally, sentimentality carries over into the sandwich menu.
The Trunzo — a classic combo of prosciutto, housemade mozzarella, roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes — is named after Bucca’s boyhood butcher shop on 68th Street.
The Panelle — an increasingly difficult-to-find Italian specialty of fried chickpea fritters and ricotta — is a lifelong favorite of Bucca’s wife, Maria.
And of course, there’s a traditional sausage and peppers hero, named after — what else? — Bensonhurst’s famous (though cancelled!) 18th Avenue Feast.
“These are the sandwiches that define us,” said Bucca. “18th Avenue is what we are.”
No matter where Enzo and I go, or what we do in the future, we’ll always be two guys from Bensonhurst.”
Zito’s [300 Seventh Ave. between Seventh and Eighth Streets in Park Slope, (718) 499-2800].
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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