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New Jersey’s 33 Greatest Italian Delis, Ranked; Vineland Deli Makes List

by Peter Genovese | NJ Advance Media for

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The Italian deli might be the greatest culinary show on Earth—a wonderland of sights, sounds and especially smells. And no one does it better than New Jersey.

The tomatoey tang of homemade lasagne and baked ziti. The pungent bite of sharp provolone. Hunky slabs of imported prosciutto, mortadella and sopressata begging to be sliced. Loaves of crusty bread stacked invitingly on a shelf. On the shelves sit myriad pastas and peppers and olives and sodas and specialty items you’ve never heard of, much less sampled.

Oh, and don’t forget the garlic. There’s enough of it in the air to ward off a coven of vampires.

No one covers Italian food like the mozzarella-mad crew at We’ve done a ranking of the state’s 99 best pizzas; named the best pizzerias in each county, the state’s 25 best Italian dishes, its 50 greatest Italian restaurants, and the best new pizzerias; and offered three indispensable guides: the Italian Bakery Explained, 99 Foods Every Italian American Should Know, and the Italian Deli Explained. That’s just a sampling.

Now it’s time to rank New Jersey’s best Italian delis. Italians make up New Jersey’s largest ethnic group, but all Jerseyans are fiercely loyal to their favorite Italian delis. But we deli denizens were up to the tall task. This ranking isn’t just about who makes the best sandwiches, it’s about who combines menu, tradition, history and atmosphere in one irresistible package….

Here’s what the reporters had to say about #31, Giovanni’s Authentic Italian Deli, Vineland.

Vineland, the largest city by size in New Jersey, is home to New Jersey’s only drive-in movie theater and Serene Custard, No. 1 on my list of the best soft-serve spots in the state. And Giovanni’s, known for its Italian subs (they go against the South Jersey tide and call them subs, not hoagies). The imported Italian, with sopressata, prosciutto, capicola and provolone, is a wise choice. Throwing a party? You can buy lasagne, ravioli and ziti by the tray.