Giacomo’s Italian Market and Grille

Giacomo’s Italian Market and Grille

There is a place on a corner of Easton’s residential College Hill called Giacomo’s Italian Market and Grille. Colloquially, it is known as Giacomo’s, as in, “Want to go to Giacomo’s?” This is a sentence frequently overheard on Lafayette College’s campus and throughout the neighborhood, and I’d wager that there is only ever one answer: yes.

If you are not from Easton or College Hill, there is a chance that you have not had the good fortune of wandering in on, say, a Tuesday afternoon, and walking out a little bit later with a slightly tighter waistband and higher spirits. You should change that.

Giacomo’s is more than a sandwich shop. It’s also an authentic Italian market, offering shelves peppered with imported Italian goods.

A Lehigh Valley institution since 1975, Giacomo’s specialty is cheesesteaks. (The shop won a heated cheesesteak showdown judged by The Express-Times in 2011.) Owner Sal Famularo says part of the secret is in the bread, which is delivered fresh from Calandra’s Bakery in Newark every day. It’s denser than the typical roll you might find at the store, meaning it’s the ideal vessel for housing mouthwatering bites of saucy steak meat. The signature homemade marinara sauce, made with ground tomatoes, isn’t quite like the marinara sauce you’d twirl your spaghetti in, and it’s not exactly pizza sauce either—it is its own creation, punchy but not too acidic, distinctive but without overpowering the savory meat. Instead, it cuts through the rich steak and cheese, creating the legendary sandwich that has kept the front door chiming for decades.

Other hearty handhelds include signature subs brimming with soppressata and capicollo, or pitas stuffed with housemade chicken salad. But Giacomo’s is more than a sandwich shop. It’s also an authentic Italian market, offering shelves peppered with imported Italian goods. Ideal for amping up your favorite old-world recipes, there are jars filled with grilled peppers, eggplant strips, and sun-dried tomatoes. You’ll also find scrumptious Italian snacks and treats, as well as imported artisan pastas like Giuseppe Cocco, which is the same pasta that is served to the Pope. In addition to products straight from the heart of Italy, there are cases stocked full of handmade delights made with time-tested recipes.

On my trip to Giacomo’s, I took home enough food for two nights of feasting. Part of the charm of Giacomo’s is that the entire eatery is like a care package from your mother. In fact, in the refrigerated grocery section, you’ll find Sal’s 77-year-old mother’s marinara and meat sauces, ready for you to take home and serve alongside the fresh housemade pastas, meatballs, and, of course, the sausage.

Before we get any further, let me tell you about the sausage. Made daily and coiled into its resting place behind the tempting glass display at the counter, Giacomo’s makes five different flavors of sausage from scratch. There’s the standard Italian, of course—which you can (and should) also try on a breakfast sandwich one morning—and the “sweet,” with a touch of fennel. The sausage also comes spicy, with crushed red pepper woven into the links, and then there are the specialty sausages that might come with broccoli rabe or parsley and cheese. I took the classic Italian sausage and broccoli rabe home with me to try. Both styles were incredibly robust and tasty—I could see them pairing well with pasta salad, risotto, and grilled vegetables. I ate (read: devoured) mine as an appetizer. If you want to be the hero at your next potluck or picnic, stop by Giacomo’s on your way to the party.


I also sampled the arancini, a chubby little wonder of rice, meat, cheese, and peas. The breading was light with a satisfying crunch, while the inside was moist and flavorful. The arancini came with a dipping sauce, but it wasn’t necessary—they were perfect on their own.

Night one’s feast also included Giacomo’s signature vodka sauce paired with their housemade fettuccine, made from a mixture of semolina and durum flours. Because the pasta was fresh, it only took a little over a minute to cook. The noodles were thick and tasty as-is, but the sauce took the dish over the top. Night two was for meatballs, Sal’s mother’s meat sauce, and the Vatican’s favorite penne. Here’s the thing: I almost felt guilty about the fact that I was eating such a scrumptious meal from the comfort of my home—without having slaved over it for hours and without ingesting any of the preservatives that usually come attached to the convenience of such a meal—and all I had to do was heat things up. The meat sauce was some of the best I’ve had, with a deep, rich flavor that was perfectly seasoned. The imported penne had a unique texture and mouthfeel, and each cylinder tenaciously gripped onto the incredible sauce. The meatballs, made with pork and beef, were a tender and comforting accent to an already delicious dish.

Giacomo’s is a true outpost for fantastic Italian flair and some of the Lehigh Valley’s finest cheesesteaks. Stop in and try Sal’s iconic take on the sandwich. Whatever you do, don’t leave without taking some sausage home for dinner.

Giacomo’s Italian Market & Grille
700 Cattell St, Easton | 610.438.1945

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