The Taste of Italy Right in Roslindale
By Carole Anne Scott
For …[over 40 years] Tony’s Market at 4253 Washington Street in Roslindale Village has been providing all the authentic Italian ingredients that go into making that country’s cuisine one of, if not the, world’s finest.
Tony’s is an authentic, old-world butcher shop. The veal cutlets are precisely cut to ensure a delicious perfection. The sausages are handmade by the proprietor himself, using only the finest ingredients. Items more exotic to the average American palate (such as fresh rabbit and “Baccala,” a salted cod fish traditionally served by Italians especially on Christmas Eve) are readily available there.
The grocery shelves are stocked with four different brands featuring about twenty-four different types of imported pasta from fusili to angel hair to lasagna. They also offer canned olives, olive oils, tomatoes, Polenta, etc.
Even if you don’t know how to cook, you can still feast your gourmet palate on the delicacies offered at Tony’s. The dairy case boasts at least fifteen varieties of authentic, imported cheeses. In addition, there are ready-to-eat cold cuts, including that perennial favorite prosciutto Parma, again imported from Italy.
For the sweet-tooth and once again perfect for the non-chefs among us, the store has an incredible variety of Italian Christmas cakes called “Panattone,” Sienese fruit cakes known as “Panforte” and cookies, all imported directly from Italy. To finish off the meal, you could sip on Tony’s genuine Italian coffee accompanied by an Italian candy (Torrone, Perugina or Bacci).
The “Tony” behind the market’s name is Tony DeBenedictis, a native of Avellino, Italy, who came to America when he was nineteen-years old. Both bold and enterprising as a youth, Tony bought his first store in East Dedham without having had any prior experience in the field. Of the decision, he states “Once you’re in, you learn, or you shut the door. I was doing piece-work at a factory and wanted to do something different. I was 24 almost 25. When you’re young and stupid you do things like that.”
His hard work did indeed work out for Tony. … He found his Roslindale location and business has been good ever since. On the day of our interview, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, he had already sold fourteen fresh rabbits, a number which seemed astronomical to someone like me who has never eaten that particular delicacy.
His faithful clientele include a Greek customer who comes all the way from Worcester to stock up on enough lamb, stew and steak to last his family a good two months. Tony’s customers come from at least twenty different towns. Many of them are former Roslindale residents who have relocated to other areas and return to buy from him.
Business is especially brisk at Christmastime. In fact, last Christmas a man came all the way from Northboro to purchase six pounds of veal cutlets.
Tony attributes this success to the fact that he has been in business for so long and that there are few choice small butcher shops around. Like every successful businessperson, he wisely knows and proclaims that “if you treat the customer right, the come back.”
When asked what he likes best about his job, the affable Mr. DeBenedictis replies “the people. I still enjoy my work and I love the people. I get to know them. Some of them have been with me for thirty years.”
It is easy to see why the people still flock to Tony’s Market. It is as authentically Italians as any groceria I’ve seen in Italy or the North End and carries anything you might need for a wonderful Christmas feast, including thos imported chestnuts to roast on that open fire.