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2017 America's Classic: Gioia’s Deli

JBF Editors

May 03, 2017

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Gioia’s Deli

1934 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis

Owner: Alex Donley

For a century, Gioia’s has been a fixture of the Hill, the neighborhood that is the heart of St. Louis’s Italian-American community. First it served the community as a grocery store, run by Marcallo, Italy, native Challie Gioia. Since Cathy Donley bought it in 1980, the building, constructed of brick and wood from the 1904 World’s Fair, has functioned as a lunch restaurant. Through it all, the recipe for Gioia’s signature hot salami hasn’t changed. The salami is hot as in temperature, not as in spice. That said, the (mostly) secret blend of pork-head meat, beef, and seasonings packs a peppery bite. It’s a fresh, boiled sausage, with a texture like coarse pâté and a flavor that is porky, earthy, a little funky. Topped with the city’s beloved cheese, Provel, it’s a dish that has traveled from Italian to Italian-American to thoroughly St. Louisan.

Watch our video on Gioia's Deli: 

The America's Classic award is given to restaurants with timeless appeal, each beloved in its region for quality food that reflects the character of its community. Establishments must have been in existence for at least ten years and be locally owned.

Learn more about the 2017 James Beard Awards.