"If you put your name on it, it better be good."
That's Michael Manzo's philosophy, at least. It's his name you'll find on the front of Manzo's Italian Deli in West Palm Beach. And his fingerprints are on everything his customers order.
"Nothing goes out without me seeing it," says Manzo, something he learned from working in his father's New York Italian restaurant when he was 14. "I grew up in a big Italian family making great Italian food."
Arriving before 6 a.m. every day, Manzo prepares almost all the food for the day from scratch, including a homemade pasta salad, piping hot soups, succulent prime rib — even a red sauce recipe he simmers for up to five hours.
Once the deli opens at 8:30 a.m., he spends the rest of the day cutting meat and making orders until close at 5 p.m., working an average of 75 hours a week. He doesn't have managers, and his wife handles the money. It's his version of "quality control," he says, and why "everybody votes Manzo's as the number-one sub shop in Palm Beach County."
Manzo's will celebrate 20 years of business in May. The menu — which began with 23 selections in a 600-square-foot shop — has since expanded to 50 items and 2,000 square feet.
What to order: the Italian combo sub. No respectable Italian deli is complete without one, and Manzo's number 23 ranks right up there with the best. Loaded with salami,
The number 17 also gets rave reviews. It's a self-proclaimed "world famous" chicken salad, a family recipe of white raisins, pignoli nuts, basil, Granny Smith apples, and a touch of mayo described as low in calories and fat but high in flavor.
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If you can't get away from work to grab one of those super subs, Manzo's delivers for free within a two-mile radius (if you order two or more items) and caters for businesses from Jupiter to Boca Raton, all of it under Manzo's watchful eye.
"In business, everyone says it's about 'location, location, location.' In the restaurant business, it's 'quality, quality, quality,'" says Manzo.
Manzo's Italian Deli is located at 2260 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach. Call 561-697-9411, or visit manzositaliandeli.com.
Darrin Willhite is a political blogger and food writer covering Palm Beach County. Read more at Real Political Conversations.