At one time Italian delicatessens were plentiful in our area. Milwaukee’s east side and Third Ward were crowded with family-owned markets that offered Italian imported specialties of fragrant cheeses, olives and savory sausages. Today, one of the few remaining is Angelina’s Deli on 15655 W. North Ave. in Brookfield.
Owned and operated by Jerry Floryence Sr., son, Jerry Jr., and daughter, Paula Weber, the deli was named for the senior Floryence’s mother, Angelina. The store, which has been at the same location since 1997, has a familiar aroma of slow-cooked sauces and imported cheeses.
Imported salamis — Genoa, Mortadella, Proscuitto, Capicola and Pancetta — line the shelves in the deli case. Homemade meatballs, arancini and five different kinds of lasagna are just some of the prepared items that draw customers from all over the area. “Our customers come from Wauwatosa, Brookfield, Germantown and Menomonee Falls,” Floryence, Sr. said.
Homemade pizzas, soups, salads, homemade sausages and brats are among the deli’s selection. “We also make 20 different kinds of sub sandwiches,” Paula said of the take-out or eat-in offerings. The deli has window-side tables at which to mangia. Translation: eat.
Italian in spirit, if not in name
Although Floryence started an Italian deli, he is not Italian. He missed it by that much. His parents are from Trieste, Italy. But when they immigrated to the United States, Trieste was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Just a stone’s throw from Italy, the city and seaport became part of Italy after World War I. “So I’m Slovenian,” Floryence, Sr. said.
But Floryence’s love of Italian cuisine is more current than a century-old border shift. He worked for Ingrilli’s Deli for more than 13 years. “I was in sales, wholesale, pizzas,” he said. He also worked at Kohl’s Food Store for 25 years on 124th and North and knew he liked the area. So when he decided to strike out on his own, the location just a little farther west on North Avenue suited him.
It’s been a family affair. Floryence’s wife, Carol — now retired — cooked and worked the store. Daughter Paula said she learned to cook from her mom. Paula does most the cooking now. The grandkids come in to work on occasion. The staff of 12 feels like family. “We have an employee who has worked here for years. On Sunday she’ll be receiving her doctorate from UWM,” Paula said, looking proud and a little sad realizing that the woman probably will now move on.
'It's not so much like work'
For Angelina’s Deli, it’s all about the people — the customers, the staff. “If one of our customers is looking for something special, we’ll try to get it for them,” Floryence, Sr. said. But for customers wanting, the freezer and cooler are stocked full of homemade entrees and menu items ready to take home and heat. Hot, prepared foods are plentiful too — from three-cheese baked ziti and sausage and peppers to pork tenderloin and three different variations on arancini, Italian rice balls. Dessert is prepared on site, Paula said. Italian cookies, brownies and of course, cannoli and tiramisu are offered. “On Sundays, we have hot ham, Italian beef, roasted pork tenderloin and roasted turkey,” she said. “We also do a fish fry on Fridays.”
At 75 years old, Floryence. Sr. has no plans to retire. “My health is good. I love what I do. When you enjoy yourself, it’s not so much like work.”
Fresh meats, freshly baked breads and rolls, imported pastas, wines, olive oils and selection of groceries also are available. Angelina’s also does party trays and has a full catering menu.
_________ Let’s Go! _________
Where: 15655 W. North Ave., Brookfield
Hours: Tuesday - Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Monday