Riviera Kitchen Tour

The first step to getting a great sandwich at Riviera is to skip the menu. With items like a "turkey ranch" sub and a vegetarian sub on the printed list of options, you quickly figure out that the correct path is through the array of meats and cheeses in the case. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
As at many old-fashioned Italian delis, your sandwich begins with a selection of bread from an old wooden case near the deli counter. Calabria neighbors Sicily, so it's fitting that much of the bread comes from Palermo Bakery across the street. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Carmelo Pugliese started working at Riviera 31 years ago as an immigrant from Calabria, the southernmost province of the Italian mainland. He bought the store from its founders a few years later. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Each sub is assembled by hand, slice by slice, to the customer's specifications. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Though many of Riviera's meats are imported, the Puglieses make the specialties of their native Calabria themselves, such as spicy capicola, dry-cured from a single muscle within the pork shoulder. The housemade sopressata (pictured) spends two weeks hanging in the walk-in cooler before being boxed to dry further. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
A "Will's Special," invented by and named for a regular customer, is one of Chicago's spiciest sandwiches: it showcases capicola and sopressata, chewy little knots of fresh mozzarella, and a spicy giardinera of celery, peppers and olives. Everything on the sandwich is made on the premises. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Behind the deli prep area is another kitchen, part stainless steel workspace and part well-lived-in family area. (The glass on the ancient meat scale is long gone, but a fresh sticker of inspection shows that it's still in daily use.) Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
In the back kitchen, fresh and cured sausage is cranked out according to old family recipes. Besides their own Calabrian-style Italian sausage, they make fresh sausages from other regions -- specialties include thin barese, as well as a liver sausage common to Tuscany and Abruzzo.Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Also made in house are half a dozen kinds of cured olives, lupini beans, seafood salad and more. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods »Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com
Carmelo Pugliese and his wife Catherine at Riviera Italian Imported Foods, 3220 N. Harlem Ave., Chicago. Back to Kitchen Tours: Inside Chicago's Riviera Italian Imported Foods ¿Huge Galdones/Galdonesphotography.com