Posted By Patricia Beninato
9/21/2006 2:42:00 PM
Who would think that an honest-to-goodness Italian deli/sausage emporium could be found in western Canada of all places? Fortunately for the city of Calgary — and those who visit — such delicacies can be found at Spolumbo’s, whose reputation is so good that if you’re eating sausage anywhere in the area it’s a safe bet it came from there.
Spolumbo’s name comes from a mix of the three owners’ surnames — brothers Tom and Tony Spoletini and Mike Palumbo, who all played for the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Tom’s father-in-law owned an Italian restaurant in Calgary, and the trio would make sausages after-hours and offer them to other local restaurants. Soon the sausages were so popular they purchased their own place in the Inglewood section of Calgary (east of downtown) and have expanded since. The deli/sausage factory now occupies an airy building decorated with pictures of local sports figures such as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames hockey team, with the owners’ CFL jerseys displayed prominently.
We came at the early end of lunchtime, around eleven in the morning, and there was already a line at the display cases. Spolumbo’s offers a fairly decent line of deli sandwiches including Montreal smoked meat, but the thing to order is the sausage sandwich and so we did. Don’t overlook the sides — a garlicky pesto pasta salad, potato salad spiked with mustard and a tomato-onion salad dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. A small side is a heaping bowlful, a large side is a veritable mountain, and no matter which one you pick you’ll enjoy it. The sausage has an audible snap when you bite into it, and red pepper gives a nice kick without being overwhelming. Sandwiches are served on sturdy-crusted Italian bread you’ll swear was baked in Brooklyn. All sandwiches are served with palate-cleansing pickle chips, and you can wash down your meal with beverages ranging from a diet Coke to Italian soda to Pellegrino water.
Unfortunately for Americans the food police won’t let you bring Spolumbo’s sausage back with you, but lucky Canadians have their pick of sausages as well as pastas and sauces. If you’re in Calgary or anywhere near it, Spolumbo’s should be on your must-eat-there list.
"The sausage is a masterpiece ... and the tomato sauce that tops it is brilliant. "
"This meatball sandwich is the only justification for not ordering a sausage sandwich at Spolumbo's. The meatballs are superb. Note the wicker basket that serves as tray and plate, and the crisp, puckery pickle chips to refresh the palate."
"Spolumbo's was created by three former teammates of the Stampeders, Calgary's football team. It's a great place to eat ... and to buy freshly-made Italian sausage for cooking at home or campfire."