Mozzarella and Memories: Vinny's Deli Celebrates 30 Years

Tricia and Vinny Lamorte in 1988, the year Vinny's Deli opened at 14 East Main Street in Pawling.

A beloved local business celebrated a milestone earlier this month when Vinny’s Deli marked 30 years of serving the local community. Owner Vinny Lamorte has proudly provided his culinary delights for three decades, and recently took time to reflect on what his time in Pawling has meant to him, his family, and the legions of satisfied customers who come through his door each day.

At age 27, Vinny Lamorte was in business with his brother, manufacturing pasta for wholesale distribution. “It wasn’t doing it for me; I’m a people person,” explains Lamorte. “I was missing that element of human connection, being involved in the community.” When a location formally housing a movie theater became available in Pawling, he saw his opportunity to begin a new business venture that would satisfy his desire for customer and community involvement. After renovations to the structure, Vinny’s Deli was born on March 12, 1988.

The next thirty years would see many changes not only in Pawling, but also in Vinny Lamorte’s life as well. “I met my wife, Tricia, in the deli. That was the best thing that happened here in Pawling. The deli comes in second.” The couple would raise three daughters, Nicole, Leah, and Samantha. Meanwhile, the customer base and the business’s reputation for quality cuisine would continue to grow. “People started to embrace us,” says Lamorte. “Everyone here in Pawling was really nice, and you can’t put a value on being affiliated with people like that.”

Vinny’s Deli is open seven days a week, operating with a staff of ten full-time and part-time employees. The establishment also boasts several long tenured staff members, which Vinny attributes to a philosophy of mutual respect. “In thirty years, I haven’t gone through a lot of employees,” he says. “I’m loyal to my employees, and they’re loyal to me. There are always people I can call to help if I need it.”

A unique feature of the establishment is a guest book provided to first time visitors. Customers enjoying their first experience at Vinny’s Deli are encouraged to leave their address for a mailing list, and the book contains entries from across the country, including Arizona, Texas, Kentucky, Colorado, Idaho, and California. “That's really neat to see,” says Lamorte. “Coming here is part of the experience of visiting Pawling.”

When asked about his favorite memories from three decades of business in Pawling, Lamorte named several notable examples. Vinny’s Deli was featured on The Food Network on two separate occasions. Vinny’s signature fresh mozzarella was featured on the “Farmhouse Rules,” while the Steak Margarita Sandwich was chosen to be shown on the “Guilty Pleasures” program. “My mother was on the Food Network for the first show, and they asked for her to come back again,” he says. “And getting to see her reaction to seeing herself on television was really great. That was one of my favorite moments, being able to give something like that back to my mom.”

In addition to being featured on television, Vinny has also formed a friendship with musician Daryl Hall, owner of local music venue Daryl’s House. He has been featured on five episodes of Live from Daryl’s House, including one episode broadcast from inside Vinny’s Deli. “We had his band here, we made marinara sauce, and we all ate dinner together inside,” says Lamorte. “How many delis can say that?”

In thirty years, Vinny’s Deli has become a true mainstay of the Pawling community. Through his three decades of operation, he has also never forgotten the importance of the relationship between commerce and community. “There’s no Pawling without business, and there’s no business without Pawling,” he explains.

With thirty years well done, hundreds of friendships created, and countless hungry customers satisfied, Vinny Lamorte was recently asked what the future holds. He replied: “The time went faster than I could have ever imagined. I still love what I do. I could slow down, but I don’t want to. I love feeding people; it’s just such a good feeling. And at the end of the day, I can say that I have given more then I have gotten.”