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The backstory: Daniel Bonanno and his brother Enrico Bonanno grew up working and spending time in Tenuta's, the Italian deli their father has worked at for 56 years and now helps run in Kenosha. So when a space opened up near the restaurant Daniel co-owns and is the head chef at in Madison, Enrico moved up from Chicago and the two of them were inspired to open an Italian deli of their own. Along with A Pig in a Fur Coat's co-owner Bonnie Arent and sous chef Jonathan Huttsell, the four opened Alimentari, a deli and market serving fresh pasta, sandwiches, cured meats, cheese, homemade sauces, wine and a selection of other Italian products.
The vibe: Located in a strip mall about 100 feet behind A Pig in a Fur Coat on South Brearly Street, Alimentari is like an uber-curated version of Tenuta's. Neat shelves display balsamic vinegars, olive oils, canned tomatoes, dried pastas and other hard-to-find products, many of which are imported from small Italian makers. Daniel says many customers come in and ask, "What should we eat for dinner?" Daniel and his staff are happy to suggest a good carbonara recipe, or a certain wine that will go well with your meal.
The menu: It'd be a mistake to leave Alimentari without ordering a sandwich — or a sangwich, as it's pronounced by the Italian-American brothers. The mortadella features aged provolone, an eggplant salad and Italian dressing. Daniel says customers have been loving the spicy soppressata, capicola and smoked Muenster sandwich. "I think it's everyone's favorite right now," Daniel says. All of the sandwiches are served on an Italian sourdough made by Madison Sourdough specifically for Alimentari.
The must-try: What seems to be a star offering at Alimentari is the fresh pasta. Bundles of bucatini beg to be bought and turned into an above-average at-home meal.
The bottom line: If you're looking to make an Italian dinner at home featuring top-notch pasta, sauce, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a bottle of wine to go with it, Alimentari is the place to pick up almost everything you need. If you want all of that but don't want to cook, it's probably a better idea to go to A Pig in A Fur Coat for dinner instead.
306 S. Brearly St., 665-3650
Andrea Behling is managing editor of Madison Magazine.
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