Claims of cuisine authenticity are ubiquitous in the food world. The sign on the restaurant’s front window may boast of as much, but that doesn’t mean the kitchen is backing those words up with ingredient integrity and legit experience. But Lucy and Steve Selvaggio, owners of Casa d’Italia in Harrison, have a pedigree that gives their sandwich shop/café credible faithfulness to Italian-American food.
“Steve and I were both born and raised on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx,” says Lucy, referring to the strip commonly thought of as the borough’s little Italy. “Both of our parents are immigrants from Italy and came to this country in the early 1970s. We have a profound understanding of true Italian food and its flavors.”
Photo by Jonathan Ortiz
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One bite of their house-made mozzarella—soft, delicate, milky, and moist—and it’s apparent there is still a lot of Arthur Ave in these current Harrison residents.
The couple’s Westchester story started in 1997, when they opened an Italian specialty store in their new town serving only fresh-baked breads, cookies, American-style coffee, and some cured meats and cheeses. They later added deli meats and began making basic sandwiches. Lucy began cooking on premises and introduced some hot sandwiches to the menu (chicken, meatball and eggplant parm, sausage and peppers et al), and as the menu grew, so did the clientele. They’ve since moved to their more spacious Halstead Avenue location and rebranded themselves as a sandwich shop/café.
Photo by Jonathan ortiz
Deliveries arrive daily from the Bronx’s famous Terranova Bakery (the families are long-time friends) and uses their breads to make winning sandwiches such as the Bronx Tale (chicken cutlet, sundried peppers, hot capicolo, and fresh mozzarella dressed with pesto) and an exemplary eggplant parm. There are more than 30 specialty sandwiches, plus mix-in salads, steam-table specials, and cold salads prepared fresh daily, and espresso and cappuccino are made using ESSSE CAFFE coffee beans.
Photo by JonathAn ortiz
After receiving training from an Italian pastry chef and purchasing a $15k TechnoGel machine, Steve now serves top-notch gelato (love the wild berries flavor). The house-made cannoli is also a standout.
“Growing up Italian and working at our local bakeries, pizzerias, and restaurants, food became our passion,” Lucy continues. “We knew it was just a matter of time before we wanted to share it with our own customers.”
265 Halstead Ave, Harrison