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Delia’s Deli actually began on a whim. Lifetime Itasca resident Vittoria Carey saw a blurb in the Village bulletin asking people to bring their ideas for a business to their attention, and decided to give it a try. “I went to the meeting, did my presentation on an ice cream shop—and they loved it,” says Carey. And then the real work began.

Carey knew nothing about the restaurant business when she started out. Before this venture, she had worked with her husband in the construction industry. She says, “When the Village said they were looking for businesses to go into the old Village Hall building, I wanted to come up with an idea for a place where people could go with their kids.” Gradually the original plan for an ice cream store expanded to include items such as sandwiches and soups as well.

Delia’s opened its doors on July 14, 2008, and Carey says, “It was kind of funny at first. Since nobody had been in the building for four years, we actually had people coming in trying to pay their water bill.”

That type of thing didn’t last though, and now Delia’s is enjoying a good business in town. “When I’m out people actually recognize me and come up to me to say how much they like my food,” says Carey, and to her it is the best thing she could hear. “I live in town, and I’m Italian,” she says, adding, “There was no way I was going to sign off on anything unless the food was good.”

Carey’s philosophy is simple: Serve only quality foods and people will notice. “In the beginning some people were trying to convince me that nobody could taste the difference between things—but I knew better. People can taste quality,” she says.

Delia’s Deli uses Boar’s Head meats and serves Homer’s Ice Cream, and many of the specialty menu items are named after Carey’s family members. Three of the salads are named after her children, Sean, Mina and Delia—who is also the deli’s namesake. There is a sandwich named after one of her younger brothers, Gio, and there is also a hearty “Contractor’s Special” sandwich, which piles on the ham, turkey and roast beef in addition to provolone and cheddar cheese.

The menu has variety, serving soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps in addition to 12 different ice cream flavors. “Pecan praline is the local favorite—but kids come back time and time again for the cotton candy flavor—they love it,” Carey says.

Next on the list is developing a catering menu, and for that she plans to serve all of her menu items, plus some pasta and other hot dishes. She is also thinking about selling sliced lunchmeat down the line, and perhaps even adding online ordering to the mix.

“The Village has been great,” Carey says, adding, “They really gave us incentives to move in here, and I’m looking forward to the Riverwalk, which will bring additional foot traffic.”

She is enjoying the location—but more importantly, she has learned a great deal about the restaurant business along the way. Carey’s sharp instincts have served her well in selecting quality foods, and her personality is such that she loves to talk to people and welcome them into her place. She says, “We sit down to eat three times a day or more—food is a big part of our lives. The quality of the food is important—and I just won’t skimp on that.”

Delia’s Deli is located at 100 N. Walnut Street and is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Their phone is 847-250-5166.

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