Every day Paul Cortese makes fresh mozzarella, whips up marinara and pesto sauce, and, along with his staff, creates the many savory specialties of an authentic Italian home. Now and then, he pops out of the kitchen to greet customers. His store and deli, A & S Fine Foods at 128 Bowman Avenue in Port Chester, opened in December, and quickly attracted a large following who enjoy the food as well as the service.
Cortese may be a newcomer to the neighborhood, but when it comes to Italian food, he’s a pro. He acquired his taste for the business in 1980 at the A & S in Yonkers, and has successfully run the A & S in Croton for the past 19 years. His passion for food spans generations. His grandparents were born in Bari, Italy, and both his grandfather and father were in the business.
A & S turns out popular prepared meals, such as lasagna, eggplant rollatini, stuffed artichokes, chicken cutlets, meatballs, broccoli rabe, grilled vegetables, and a variety of pasta dishes. For those who prefer to cook at home, you can choose from homemade sausage, meats, and imported cheeses, a large selection of cold cuts, including store-roasted turkey, fresh pasta from Italy, and a diverse assortment of ravioli, both fresh and frozen, with fillings such as lump crabmeat, pumpkin, rock shrimp, and more. There are also the “accessories” — l6 types of olives, imported olive oils, breadcrumbs, including gluten-free. Don’t overlook the desserts — homemade rice pudding, fruit pies, and Bindi gelato, to name a few.
The lunchtime crowd goes for A & S’s freshly made sandwiches, and kids take advantage of their after-school $5 student special. “I like to give them something healthy,” said Cortese, who is assisted by his wife, Kim, an art teacher at Yonkers High School. A & S also offers full catering and custom gift baskets.