“There is nothing better than working with family,” says Yano Petruzzelli, who owns and operates the New Deal Fruit Company located in Revere, Massachusetts, along with his two brothers, Nicholas and Domenic Petruzzelli. The New Deal Fruit Company, which can be categorized as a hybrid produce market, Italian specialty store, and deli, has been a family affair for over fifty years, and seemingly will be a mainstay in this North Shore city for a very long time.
A visit to New Deal is a history lesson in itself, as the band of three Petruzzelli brothers keeps the distinctly old school marketplace atmosphere alive — the same one their grandfather, Sebastiano Petruzzelli, created so many years ago. The son of Sicilian immigrants, Sebastiano was raised in the clamored North End community, surrounded by neighbors with a shared heritage. At the time, the North End was a bustling center with enclaves of Italians from their respective regions, each specializing in their own trades. Petruzzelli found himself among other Sicilians and Genoese, carving out his own niche expertise in the produce business. With a horse-drawn pushcart, he began a successful business selling fruit and vegetables that he has passed down through the line of Petruzzellis. Although the New Deal Fruit Company is no longer run from a pushcart on the streets of Boston, the neighborliness and sense of community has undeniably remained at the core of the Petruzzelli business model.
The New Deal Fruit Company has established itself as much more than just a produce market, as it offers a plethora of coveted Italian specialty items and a broad selection of cured meats and cheeses. “We sell what we eat, the finest quality,” the Petruzzellis proudly state. Alongside fresh persimmons, Sicilian prickly pears, broccoli rabe, and California anise, is an aisle completely devoted to dried pasta. New Deal Fruit Company is home to over 300 cuts of pasta, and we’re not talking about your basic rigatoni or linguine. Customers are able to explore lesser known pastas, such as fusilli al nero di seppia, whose dark color comes from infused squid ink, or funghetti, an egg-based pasta whose small size and intricate shape make it the perfect addition to an Italian zuppa (soup). Italian cheeses such as Parmigiano Reggiano, scamorza, and provolone are just a few of the specialty cheeses that are encased in New Deal’s deli counter. In fact, aging provolone hangs from the ceiling like a punching bag on thick metal chains, and is treated with such care that it almost serves as a shrine in the store. In an effort to serve New Deal customers with the finest cheese, the Petruzzelli brothers take it upon themselves to age their provolone, the national cheese of Italy. As Yano Petruzzelli states, “the stinkier, the better.”
But behind New Deal’s deli counter, workers are constantly hustling to satisfy throngs of regulars waiting in line for one of the establishment’s famous submarine sandwiches. The Petruzzelli brothers certainly specialize in food for people with big appetites; sandwiches are simply overstuffed with quality cuts of meat and cheeses, freshly rolled meatballs, and homemade gravy. But the size of the sandwiches and quality of its contents are not the only things that set them apart. Each is prepared on a loaf of freshly made Italian bread. “It would be an insult to put my cold cuts on American bread,” Yano comically asserts.
New Deal Fruit Company is not only a local market or sub shop. It represents the epicenter of Revere’s Italian American community. Perhaps what sets this location apart from really anywhere else in the North Shore is the welcome that one receives upon entrance. The Petruzzelli brothers know nearly each customer by name and greet them as if they were members of their own family. If you’re not a regular here, I invite you to New Deal Fruit Company, and within a few visits, the Petruzzellis will call you by name as well.