Arthur Avenue’s Italian excellence finds its Connecticut home in Gaetano’s Deli. Recently named the “Best Deli in Connecticut” by Food Network, Gaetano’s is an Italian American dream with nearly four Connecticut locations in Westport, Stratford, Monroe and soon Shelton as well. Daily deliveries of delicious Italian bread from the Bronx’s Addeo and Madonia’s bakeries make walking into this rather unassuming deli on Post Road feel like walking right onto Arthur Ave. However, with some of the warmest and friendliest individuals around behind the counter, it’s arguably even more reminiscent of coming home to an Italian American Sunday dinner. Put simply, the men and women of Gaetano’s make each and every customer feel like family. With emphatic greetings, insistent samples and careful concern to remember frequent visitors, their food is matched by their high quality service. Beyond the multitude of meats and cheeses, Gaetano’s greatness is evident just upon entering the establishment.

But sterling service is not all which keeps customers returning and raving: the sandwiches are top notch. More than 20 possible suggested combinations decorate their menu, but any ideas and requests are more than welcome. While the menu does extend beyond the realm of sandwiches, it’s difficult to focus on anything absent of the Arthur Avenue Italian hero rolls. The overflowing contents of these masterpieces provide the perfect counterpart for the dense yet delicate roll. In particular, the housemade mozzarella cheese is a must-try. So fresh and flavorful, it is mouth-wateringly delicious and pairs perfectly with nearly any meat selection. From Oldani salami to breaded chicken cutlets, the opportunities are endless and foolproof. A personal suggestion? The buffalo chicken. Unlike any other I’ve come across (and that’s a lot), Gaetano’s “spicy blue cheese buffalo sauce” is all at once sweet, spicy and undeniably delicious. For those who fear and flock to spice alike, the “Bada Bing Bada Buffalo!” sandwich is a tough one to beat. Still, though, anything and everything which I’ve been lucky enough to try out at this beloved deli is worthy of praise.

Gaetano’s Westport location, the closest of the four to campus, has earned recognition and rave reviews from many Fairfield University students. The 10 minute-long drive has not deterred the frequent visit of stags. While the sandwiches inarguably play a major role in this, the love is due in large part to the man in charge, Milanno Ukehaxhaj. Starting his career alongside co-owner Guy Catalano nearly 25 years ago on Arthur Avenue, Ukehaxhaj learned his craft from arguably the best in the business, according to Gaetano’s Deli website. Milanno has become a beloved local figure for many Fairfield students for his kindhearted demeanor and undeniable expertise in the deli industry. Sharing stories of his young sons and his own youth, the deli owner treats his college age clientele with an almost fatherly familiarity. Whether it’s your first or your fiftieth Gaetano’s sandwich, Milanno and his employees make you feel like family.

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