Nicole Galioto and her brother Nima Garos grew up in Little Italy, their extended family an integral part of a tight-knit community. Galioto still lives on Mulberry Street, and Garos, along with their buddy Karoosh Bakhtiar, runs Jajaja, the excellent plant-based Mexican restaurant with two locations downtown. In other words, if anyone can pull off an old-school Italian deli that's also 100% vegan, it's these guys.
And so we get Galioto's Family Delicatessen, a classic-feeling NYC spot named in honor of the siblings' father, who passed away not long ago and can be seen in several of the many family photos that are all over the place here. "My dad was not the most healthy eater," says Nicole. "Which is one of the reasons why we wanted to give the community a more health-conscious option for grabbing a bite or getting some groceries."
The first thing you notice at Galioto's is the island of fresh produce, much of it from Alimentari Flaneur and tending toward the exotic, cascading out over the floor space in the modest-sized shop. The walls are lined with pantry items like olive oil, pasta sauce, and canned beans, and an old wooden hutch displays soaps and gifty items from the nearby Flower Girl, the first of a series of local businesses Galioto intends to highlight.
But if you're like me, you're here to eat, and for that you go directly to the deli counter in back. The chefs at Galioto's are Edwin Cintron of Gelso and Grand up the block, and Ricky Colex of Jajaja. There are four big Italian heroes available, vegan like everything else and served warm on Grandaisy bread, including an Eggplant with mozzarella and harissa sauce, and a Portobello with artichoke tapenade and feta. I had the Meatball Parm, made with Impossible beef, vegan mozz (from NYC-based NUMU), just enough red sauce to make it messy and a nice hit of heat to keep you on your toes. It was as satisfying as any such sandwich I've had this year.
Also very good are Galioto's lively pasta salads, two of which I happily wolfed down for dinner. The Bow Tie Pesto is made with pistachio and is much spicier than expected (in a good way), and the Reginetti Caponata is loaded with eggplant, olives, raisins, capers, tomato, onions, and peppers and it, too, has enough chili flakes to get your attention. These are served straight from the refrigerated case, in half- or one-pound plastic containers, but, if you can, I recommend letting them get to room temperature before eating.
There's a long list of sides as well, from Marinated Artichokes to Pepperoni Misti to Roasted Tomatoes. Bushwick's great L'imprimerie bakery provides the Croissants and Chocolate Chip Cookies as well as some quiches, and Little Italy icon Cafe Belle makes a delicious vegan version of their famous Rainbow Cookies for the shop. There's also a full coffee program via Nueva York Coffee, which is owned by Galioto co-partner Manny Del Castillo.
A couple of tables are set up on a curbside piece of turf outside, but this is definitely a takeout operation.
Galioto's is located at 131 Mulberry Street, between Hester and Grand Streets, and is currently open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (212-518-7046; galiotos.com)