11 August 2013

Brooklyn's Mastellone Italian Deli Closes After 80 Years

Mastellone Italian Deli, a quiet, unassuming mainstay of old Italian South Brooklyn for 80 years, closed without notice on Aug. 1. As Brooklyn Paper reported, owner Vincent Mastellone had had enough, and couldn't convince his son to take over the family business. So he contacted the embattled owners of the nearby Pacific Green Gourmet Food and offered them the space. Pacific Green, located at Court Street and Pacific, is currently in dispute with its landlord, who wants to shove out the grocer and give the space to J. Crew. Nice of old Mastellone to think of another local indy vendor as he makes his exit. Lord knows, he could have easily courted offers from the big banks or Rite Aid.

Housed in its squat, red-brick, one-story building, Mastellone never looked like much. In fact, it's facade was downright crummy. Only locals, and newbies who did a little prying, knew that this was one of the oldest businesses in the area. Mastellone—like Gloria Flower Shoppe, Monteleone Bakery, and Ron Jordan Natoli Photo Studio—is one of the Italian business that were once part of the Columbia Street commercial district, but relocated to Court Street in the 1960s when the construction of the BQE decimated that area.

As a grocery, Mastellone was just OK. You could find all the usual Italian items, and a few imports that were more difficult to locate. (They had a brand of pasta I loved, and couldn't find anywhere else.) And the meat counter was full of graying cuts that looked like they should have been retired to the garbage pail a few days ago. It was the deli section that made the place special. It sold a delightful and delicious array are housemade Italian prepared foods. Locals knew it as a cheap outlet for satisfying and filling lunches and dinners. With it's death, residents or Carroll Gardens have one less place to by fresh mozzarella.

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