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South Side Cheap Eats: Miceli's Deli and Food Mart

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 5, 2007 3:00PM

2007_06_micelis.jpgWe worked up a serious hunger riding around the other day during our tour of La Villita. So we stopped for a re-fuel in a neighborhood whose dining options we're intimately familiar with, the Heart of Chicago. Miceli's Deli and Food Mart is located a few storefronts down from Haro; if Haro wasn't closed that afternoon we wouldn't have gone to Miceli's. The folks at Miceli's have been in business for 26 years, and we were thinking as we walked in and took stock of the surroundings how similar it seemed to Gio's Café & Deli, our local corner grocery/restaurant. Miceli's is definitely larger in size, but the comfort level and no-nonsense interior is the same as Gio's. Another thing that Miceli's and Gio's have in common is great food at affordable prices.

2007_06_micelis_food.jpgFrom Miceli's specials menu we ordered a chicken focaccia sandwich ($6.99), with a bowl of pasta fagioli ($3.25). The soup, with its chunks of onion, celery, and tomatoes, was classic Italian osteria fare. Actually, the chunks were so huge this soup might have redefined the term osteria for us. It needed no seasoning and we spent a solid five minutes dipping the Italian bread sent to our table into the broth. The sandwich was liberally drizzled in basil-infused olive oil and pesto, which only complemented the flavors of red bell peppers, tomatoes, provolone, and the bread itself. The chicken in the sandwich was grilled to perfection. Regular menu items range in price from
$2.50 for a quarter pound hamburger to $6.95 for gnocchi stuffed with your choice of meatballs or sausage. Miceli's also offers party trays for sale, ranging in price from $20.50 to $48, depending on the size of your party.

Now here's the kicker: Miceli's food is anywhere from 25-40 percent cheaper than Gio's. They don't have the range of menu options of the Gio's kitchen staff, but sometimes the "kiss" method ("keep it simple, stupid") works best. Miceli's is never hurting for customers, attracting folks from around the neighborhood, city workers, and staffers from 25th Ward Alderman Danny Solis' office, located across the street. We wonder if it was fate that had us walk into Miceli's Deli less than a week to the day we made Gio's our first official post for Chicagoist two years ago, but we're glad we did. If you're famished after a long bike ride and find yourself in the Heart of Chicago, you should drop in and find out for yourself.

Miceli's Deli is located at 2448 S. Oakley. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Saturday. Call them at 773-847-6873.