If the sight of a sandwich maker scooping a ball of fresh mozzarella from a display case doesn’t excite you, then I don’t know you like I thought I did. Oh, the freshness! Those words should be stamped across the deli display at Carollo’s Gourmet Grocery & Deli at 9 E. Third St. in Kansas City’s City Market. Carollo’s has been a staple of the City Market since 1988, when it opened as a meat wholesaler before getting into the retail business in 1993. Carollo’s claims to make the best Italian sandwich in Kansas City, and after taking on one of their signature sandwiches, like the Napolitano, I imagine you’ll find it hard to disagree.
The menu contains few options, but when you deliver high quality food like Carollo’s does, you don’t need many options. The number one, a Napolitano with prosciutto, Genoa salami, capocollo, and provolone, is number one for a reason. Served on a Farm-to-Market roll with generous portions of balsamic vinaigrette and extra virgin olive oil, the Napolitano provides a balanced combination of saltiness from the cured Italian meats, bitterness from the balsamic, savory richness from the olive oil (and a spicy kick if you add peppers.)
For the non-carnivore, Carollo’s offers a Caprese sandwich. Served up on the same Farm-to-Market roll as the Napolitano, the Caprese will transport you to a sunny Mediterranean seaside villa when you bite into the freshest mozzarella imaginable, sliced tomatoes, basil and a balsamic and olive oil combo. You’ll leave the tiny dining booth covered with olive oil and greasy fingerprints; sure signs of a meal well enjoyed.
You can’t go wrong with the light, yet decadent cannoli’s for dessert, but be careful to avoid the cannoli’s smothered in powdered sugar. The sugar can overpower the cannoli, resulting in a one-note taste. After stuffing yourself, peruse the grocery aisles of imported Italian goods and fill your cart with roasted red peppers, canisters of extra virgin olive oil, and crates of olives, olive salad, and the ever-popular seafood salad consisting of calamari, clams and baby octopus.
Carollo’s adds an east coast touch to a decidedly Midwestern city, helping to contribute to that delectable slice of Sicilian culture in a part of town where Italian-run businesses have thrived since the 1940s. This family run business continues the River Market and Columbus Park tradition of Italian immigrants providing food for a populous thankful they made the long trip across the Atlantic. Carollo’s isn’t just another sandwich shop. It’s a piece of New York. It’s Sicily. It’s Satriale’s from the Sopranos. And lucky for us, the best Italian sandwich belongs to Carollo’s and Carollo’s belongs to Kansas City.