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Colucci's Hilltop Market

135 Congress St., Portland, ME - (207) 774-2279
Posted By Michael Stern on 5/1/2005 11:14:00 AM
Colucci's looks like any other corner grocery, its sign advertising, "Meats – Produce – Groceries – Lottery Tickets – Ice – Deli." Inside shelves are stocked with a duo-cultural array of groceries that includes Twinkies and imported olive oil. We love it for the big, gnarled blueberry muffins set out each morning on the counter in muffin tins, for succulent cheeseburgers made from just-ground beef, and for such démodé hot lunches as mac & cheese, beef-chili, and chop suey. And it just may be the best place in Portland to get a real Italian – the submarine sandwich unique to Maine.

As proprietor Dick Colucci expertly assembled an Italian for us behind the counter of his corner store, he told us that this place has been a sandwich source since the end of World War II. There are two kinds of Italians made here: a real Italian, which means salami and provolone topped with tomato and green pepper, pickles, onions, olives, and oil; and a regular Italian, which features ham and American cheese, as the sandwich was originally configured just over a century ago by local baker Giovanni Amato. Mr. Colucci told us that the big issue among Portlanders who make them is not lunch meat or seasoning, but bread. "A good, fresh roll is the key," he counseled. Indeed, unlike hero sandwiches of the Mid-Atlantic states, Portland's Italians are made on soft white loaves similar to the kind of bun that traditionally encloses a lobster roll … but about four times the size.

There is no place to eat inside Colucci's market; all meals and sandwiches are take-out. It has long been a summer custom among locals to visit Colucci's to pick up sandwiches for summer picnics and trips to the beach.

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5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna.
"A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna."
Michael Stern





Colucci's is a neighborhood fixture. In addition to Italian sandwiches and all manner of other cold and hot sandwiches, the dinner case regularly contains such hot items as manicotti, lasagne, chili, mac & cheese, fried chicken pot roast, and chop suey. All is sold on a take-out basis.
"Colucci's is a neighborhood fixture. In addition to Italian sandwiches and all manner of other cold and hot sandwiches, the dinner case regularly contains such hot items as manicotti, lasagne, chili, mac & cheese, fried chicken pot roast, and chop suey. All is sold on a take-out basis."
Michael Stern


Among the daily-made breakfast pastries are these true-Yankee muffins.
"Among the daily-made breakfast pastries are these true-Yankee muffins."
Michael Stern


It is believed that the ORIGINAL formula for Italians was based on ham and American cheese, as shown on this sandwich.
"It is believed that the ORIGINAL formula for Italians was based on ham and American cheese, as shown on this sandwich."
Michael Stern



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