Food

There’s a New Italian Deli in Shaw, and It’s Legit

Capo Deli opens with parms, cold cuts, and cannoli.

Capo Deli brings an Italian sandwich shop and market to Shaw. Photography by Jeff Elkins

Salvatore Falcone is serious about his subs. The Queens native and his brother left New York, where their father owned a deli, to open their own Italian sandwich shop and market in Boca, Florida over three decades ago. Now “Sal” is back in the Mid-Atlantic (at least part time) for a similar venture in Shaw: Capo Deli.

Falcone’s DC connection is through A&B Hospitality business partners Brian Vasile and Andy Seligman, who’re also behind Brickside Food & Drink in Bethesda and Grand Central Bar in Adams Morgan. Seligman fell in love with Sal’s sandwiches while in Boca for college. Like many undergrads, Seligman dreamed of opening a version of his favorite college town sandwich shop back home. Falcone agreed on one condition—the Italian bread had to be just right.

“Sal got his delivery for his bread in Florida at 6 am,” says Vasile. “He flew up here by 7:50 am delivered it to Lyon Bakery, still warm. They dissected it like a sommelier—smelled it, ate the crust and inside, and recreated it.”

The fresh rolls—seeded or plain, crispy or soft—are the base for a variety of hot and cold sandwiches. One of Falcone’s specialties is house-roasted rare Italian beef that’s shaved to-order and layered with marinara, romano cheese, and melty mozzarella. Another is a classic cold-cut with soppressata, mortadella, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and onion with house Italian dressing (also available by the bottle). All of the meats and parms (chicken, eggplant, meatball) are also sold to-go by the pound. Though initial opening hours may be limited, the shop will soon be open for late-night takeout until 4 AM on Saturday nights.

In addition to sandwiches, deli cases are stocked with vegetable and pasta salads, marinated artichokes and peppers, and garlicky broccoli rabe. Customers can grab one of the few counter seats and settle in ricotta-stuffed shells, eggplant rollatini, and other hot plates, or take the entrees to-go. Dessert is an easy choice with only one option: homemade cannoli, filled with sweet mascarpone cream to-order.

The shop has a liquor license and may add beer/wine at some point, though there’s no alcohol to start. For now, Falcone says the focus is the food and training the staff to have a that friendly “counter rapport” with customers that one expects from a neighborhood deli.

“I tell my employees: making a sandwich isn’t just making a sandwich. It’s an art,” says Falcone. “Look at the bread as a blank canvas, and begin to paint your picture with the cold cuts, the meats, the cheeses, the dressings. It’s not rocket science, but it’s an art.”

Capo Italian Deli. 715 Florida Ave., NW; 202-827-8012. Open Monday to Thursday, 11 AM to 10 PM; Friday 11 AM to 3 AM; Saturday 11 AM to 4 AM; Sunday 10 AM to 3 AM.

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Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.