Italian deli offers Felton a taste of Rome
by Joe Shreve
Sep 20, 2012 | 3739 views | 4 4 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
San Lorenzo Valley High School students line up at Castelli's Deli Cafe, the new eatery next to the school in Felton. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
San Lorenzo Valley High School students line up at Castelli's Deli Cafe, the new eatery next to the school in Felton. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Western European tourists Stefanie Hirschfeld (Left) and Frederik Vandenbroeke chat with Nancy Alves and Chris Castellis at the newly-opened deli.
Western European tourists Stefanie Hirschfeld (Left) and Frederik Vandenbroeke chat with Nancy Alves and Chris Castellis at the newly-opened deli.
When the city of Santa Cruz told Chris Castelli she could not renew her lease for the bait shop and walk-up restaurant she had run for six years on the wharf, she bid “ciao” to Santa Cruz and “buongiorno” to Felton.

“I’d always wanted to experiment and do something different,” she said. “We thought, let’s do a full Italian deli.”

The menu of Castelli’s Deli-Café, which opened the last week of August on Highway 9 next to San Lorenzo Valley High School, deviates from the burgers, hot dogs and clam chowder she served at Andy’s Bait and Tackle Shop on the wharf — although those dishes are still available.

Castelli’s Deli-Café offers customers sliced meats and cheeses by the pound and a menu of specialty sandwiches, house-made pastas, salads and pizzas.

Phone orders are accepted, and Web orders will be soon.

“We’re carrying a lot of Italian goodies,” Chris Castelli said. “Our goal has always been to provide high-quality food. We make our own pizza dough and our own baked goods.”

With a staff of 10 people, including her younger son and daughter, “it’s pretty much a family-run business,” she said.

Chris Castelli explained that Italian food and culture became a part of her life in 1976, when she met her future husband, Roberto Castelli, in front of the Pantheon during a visit to Rome.

“My husband is from Rome,” she said. “We have a lot of Italian heritage in our family because of that.”

Roberto Castelli, who owns an Italian clothing store in San Jose, mans the espresso machine whenever he can, serving imported Italian Lavazza brand coffee, which he said is roasted only “once or twice” to avoid the burnt flavor many domestic types are plagued with.

“Roberto likes to make everyone coffee,” his wife said, adding that customers who enjoy the Lavazza coffee can buy it by the brick.

In February, after closing down Andy’s, Chris Castelli acquired the lease to 6965 Highway 9, where a series of eateries — most marketing to the students at the high school — had opened and closed. She spent the next four months seeking permits from the county to remodel the space.

Once the county gave the go-ahead, she had her eldest son, contractor Vittorio Castelli, add new countertops, a pizza oven and a convection oven. He also repaired the deck seating area and remodeled and painted the interior of the building, which Chris Castelli said was in disrepair when she moved in.

“It was trashed, just horrible,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of upgrading (since then).”

Chris Castelli, a retired state employee who spent more than 20 years working with developmentally disabled patients in San Jose, said she wanted the delicatessen to appeal to the entire community as a dining destination, not just a cafeteria alternative for students.

“It’s not just sandwiches — we offer so much more,” she said. “We’re hoping people will think of us for dinner, maybe pick up a pizza on their way home.”

So far, she said, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ve just been very pleased with the response from the community,” she said. “It’s been a fun adventure to this point.”

At a glance

What: Castelli's Deli-Cafe

Where: 6965 Highway 9 in Felton

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday

Phone: 335-1000




Comments-icon Post a Comment
Paul Robinson
September 29, 2012
Visited this charming eatery last week. Awesome sandwiches,Fresh bread and a very clean place to eat. The staff was very friendly and helpful. I truly believe this place will flourish. Gotta love Mrs. C!! While she caters to the high school, She doesn't have all her eggs in one basket....This is a awesome place to eat.....I will be back.....
Carla Bumgartner
September 22, 2012
Dyane, nice post. We can't wait to try Castelli's.
Dyane Leshin-Harwood
September 21, 2012
I LOVE Castelli's Deli - I am foodie/freelance writer who has interviewed the likes of N.Y. Times bestselling author/chef Anthony Bourdain. I have worked in gourmet restaurants in Santa Cruz County such as Gabriella Cafe. This is my five-star review I posted on Yelp:

"This is a wonderful place. I sampled sweet treats today (fabulous chocolate chip cookies, biscottis, and my favorite, the dreamy homemade cannoli) and their amazing Lavazza espresso. The specialty sandwiches (the Mama C and their creative daily specials) are just divine. The pizza is just out of this world. Perfect. I'm a huge pizza aficionado and very picky, so I was not an easy critic of their pizza. Castelli's pizza passed my taste test with flying colors.

As soon as you walk in the door, you are warmly welcomed by the staff. The deli is clean-clean-clean and everything is in tip-top shape. It's a bright and cheerful place, perfect to set up your 'office" for a few hours with your laptop as there is wifi. There is indoor seating and also a nice outdoor area with tables. After speaking with the staff at length, I learned that the quality of Castelli's sources is very high, and ingredients are authentic Italian ones whenever possible. I am thrilled that a place like this has opened in our neck of the woods. I am completely impressed!
Rob Carlisle
September 21, 2012
I'm an SLV Alum and Navy vet who was stationed in Naples for a period of time. There is nothing better than good authentic Italian food. I'm so jealous that this place wasn't around way back when I was in high school!

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