by Anthony Harrison

Winston-Salem never ceases to surprise me. And while my hometown of Greensboro has its share of fine delis, I may have found a new favorite.

A few weeks ago, I helped Triad City Beat intern Joanna Rutter on her distribution route, and we had to stop by Dioli’s Italian Market, one of a few locations on Reynolda Road. It was past lunchtime, but I was starving, having eaten only Cheerios for breakfast. On this day, I found myself in the mood for a sandwich.

When you’re hungry, any and all options seem tasty. In that, Dioli’s overwhelmed me a little bit.

Not only did they feature many delectable sandwiches like a classic muffaletta or hero sub. Desserts in both traditional and fusion-style presentations beckoned from behind their glass display cases — cannoli and sfogliatelle sat alongside tiramisu cheesecake.

I wanted everything.

I asked the guy working behind the counter what sandwiches were the most popular.

“My favorite is the fresh mozzarella,” he said. They serve that sandwich with fresh tomato and basil, and a little balsamic vinaigrette on house-made focaccia.

“People also like the Chicago-style hot beef, traditional salami and the Jewish pastrami,” he added.

I adore pastrami. I had to try it. Joanna coveted the cannoli, so I got one of those, too.

It was one of the finest deli sandwiches I’ve had in the Triad. I’m still unsure what made the pastrami specifically Jewish, but the perfectly seasoned meat blended magically with the slight heat of Dijon mustard and mildly sweet crunch of red onion.

But the bread made it truly special. It was the softest rye I’ve ever eaten, but it still had nice resistance to it and that wonderful, slightly sour note that complements nearly any deli meat.

Next came the cannoli.

I split it in half, and Joanna’s eyes widened with excitement.

“I come from New York, so I have high cannoli expectations,” she remarked.

We both agreed this example lived up to our standards and promptly exceeded them.

The pastry was sturdy, but flaky and a touch buttery. And the filling, dotted with dark chocolate chips, was a mascarpone with a rich, nearly cookie-dough texture, all while retaining luscious creaminess.

I almost immediately regretted my selfless gesture to share the dessert.

Next time, I’ll be sure to bring one home for personal enjoyment.

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