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The Italian Store: Mangia!

Img_5120_2 A few months ago, I wrote about A. Litteri, a traditional Italian grocery store hidden among the warehouses of Northeast DC.  I praised its sandwiches, its deli counter, and its wide variety of Italian packaged goods.  Hopefully you've taken my advice and checked it out by now.

If you liked Litteri but found its hours inconvenient or its cluttered interior less than welcoming, then I would encourage you to check out The Italian Store, on Lee Highway in Arlington.  For almost thirty years now, The Italian Store has been bringing the same old-school vibe to Virginia in a brighter, more open space - one of the shops in a strip mall that also houses a Giant, a Starbucks and Wasabi-Sito.

Img_5121The Italian Store was opened by the Tramonte family in 1980, and they have been serving up delicious Italian subs as well as New York style pizza by the pie and the slice ever since.  To order a sandwich, guests take a number at the deli counter (which also offers a range of traditional deli meats and cheeses available by the pound).  When your number is called, you place your order from a list of eight "Philly style" sandwiches named after Italian destinations (the exceptions are the Muffuletta, which is a faithful recreation of the New Orleans delicacy, and the Philly).  Sandwiches come on hard or soft rolls with peppers, lettuce, tomato, onions, oregano and Italian dressing as standard condiments.  Prices for halves run either $6.69 or $6.99, and whole sandwiches are only a dollar more.

Img_5124If you want to skip the line, you can fax your order in ahead of time.  Or, if you'd simply prefer a slice, you can move to the back of the store and place an order at the pizza counter.   There you can choose from seven options that are available by the slice at all times, including a white pizza, a suprema, and even a pizza topped with chopped chicken breast.  Prices are a bit steep for a slice, ranging from $2.75 for plain to $3.99 for the suprema, but the portions they offer are enough to satisfy most appetites at lunch time.  If you want to satisfy multiple appetites, whole pies run $14.99 to $20.99 for a 16" large.

Img_5123_2Like Litteri, The Italian Store also serves as a terrific source for Italian specialty products, though their selection is more limited.  Chalk it up to editing or a desire to avoid overwhelming its customers, but The Italian Store limits itself to a handful of choices in each category, from pastas to cookies to Italian wines.  They still have the sorts of products that you are less likely to find in the typical grocery store (like the nearby Giant), but they may not have exactly the brand that your Grandma swore by.  Prices are competitive, with decent wines as low as $9.99.

Along the back wall, you'll find a row of refrigerator and freezer cases stocking some true standouts - a wide range of fresh and filled pastas from some of the best producers on the east coast, sauces made in-house, and even some traditional Italian entrees for those evenings when cooking just doesn't appeal.

When it comes to authentic Italian in Arlington, there aren't a lot of options.  Thankfully, this is one.  The Italian Store provides a great selection in a store that is at once traditional and up-to-date.  They may not boast seventy years in the same location yet, but their approach to their customers and their heritage is such that it's only a matter of time.

The Italian Store
3123 Lee Highway (in the
Arlington, VA  22201
(703) 528-6266
Monday-Friday 10 AM - 9 PM
Saturday 10 AM - 8 PM
Sunday 11 AM - 6 PM



some of the best sandwiches i've ever had - but mike, no mention of how damn crowded the place is at lunchtime? the wait for sandwiches (if you don't fax your order in) can be upwards of half an hour.

Mike Bober

Fair point, Jenny.

Maybe I've just gotten jaded from waiting pretty much everywhere in the city when it comes to take-out lunch.

She's absolutely right - if you can, definitely fax your order in ahead of time or make up your mind to settle for a slice of pizza. Otherwise you'll end up spending half of your lunch hour waiting for a sandwich.

The DC Feed Editor

Great information! I have linked to this post at The DC Feed.


Love the Italian Store, but you do have to be prepared to wait. Last summer there was frequently a gelato cart outside on the weekends, but I haven't seen it this year. Also, they are now carrying fresh tomatoes from Toigo (PA) (with a "our tomatoes are not the problem" sign) as well as their jarred pasta sauces, so you can do a little local buying along with your Italian imports.


The Italian Store usually stocks pre made subs on the counter. Each time I've grabbed some, they have been the Milano, which is just fine. No wait. Just grab and pay.


Great wine, groceries, and pizza. Hugely overrated subs.


MMmmm Italian Store. i havent been there in about three years due to the inconvenience of having children ;-) but i sher liked it when i last went.



How close to a real NOLA muffuletta is it?
Do they sell the olive salad in a jar?


One question: do they sell guanciale? Does anybody in the DC metro area? This has become something of an obsession for me.

Mike Bober

Scott - though I'm no expert, a friend who knows muffulettas fairly well said it's one of the best available in DC. Not sure if they sell the olive spread for retail, but it never hurts to ask!

Zuve - I just called the Italian Store and they told me they don't sell guanciale. They suggested I try A. Litteri's, but Litteri is closed on Mondays so I'll have to try back tomorrow. I've also heard rumors that they frequently sell guanciale at Dean & DeLuca on M Street - it might be worth looking there.

Mike Bober

No such luck - Litteri just informed me that they don't carry guanciale, either.

Dean & DeLuca appears to be your last best hope.


The best pizza in the DC area. The white pizza is amazing.

On Redskins game days there is a line outside the door before it even opens. You can call or fax ahead.

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