A renovated Plaza Deli keeps the flavor of the past

| 28 Sep 2011 | 03:00

Sparta - The Plaza Delicatessen, in business in Sparta for more than 60 years, has been undergoing a face lift since July and is only a few weeks away from reopening. Mike Puglese, owner of Casa Mia Restaurant, and George Kolotis, owner of Alpine Creamery, have joined forces to run the business together, each adding a touch of their own heritage to the revamped deli. Puglese plans to introduce Italian specialties, such as prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, sopressata and salami, while Kolotis plans to add Greek specialties, such as spinach pie, gyros, and moussaka, a traditional recipe that includes eggplant, potato slices, meat sauce and a cream. In addition, the store will feature vinegars, olive oils, imported pastas and gourmet canned goods, such as tomatoes, roasted peppers and jarred olives. To cater to commuters, the store will open at 5:30 a.m. daily, offering traditional breakfast fare of bagels, pancakes, and Taylor ham-and-cheese sandwiches. At the coffee station, Puglese and Kolotis plan to offer flavored coffees, teas, hot chocolate, and espressos. Not everything will change. One of the original features - the chrome bar stools with red vinyl cushioned seats -- have been preserved. Puglese and Kolotis obliged at the request of some customers, because longtime Sparta residents who frequent the deli throughout its more than six decades in business have had their names attached to their favorite stools. “It adds a little history to the shop and makes it feel more like home,” said Puglese. “I want this deli to be a community meeting place.” Once construction is completed, Puglese, an avid painter, plans to unleash his creative side by painting the walls and columns al fresco style. Some of the shops in the plaza will be hand painted to create a mini-village effect inside the deli. “I like to paint. I can’t construct anything, but I like to design places. It’s my hobby,” said Puglese. The deli will reopen its doors in early November.