It can happen to the most committed of city folk. The moment they have kids, they start scanning Zillow for a house in the suburbs. They trade in their Canton rowhome for a farmhouse in Hereford, or a rambler in Woodstock. Once they get there, they encounter another harsh reality of suburban life: there’s no place to eat.

Or at least there wasn’t. Rosie’s Delicatessen, a New York-style Italian deli in Glenwood, opened its doors in January, serving up excellent sandwiches to western Howard County.

“Our only complaint is that it took so long to open,” said Jenny Sinkule, who was sipping coffee at the counter at Rosie’s one morning this week while trying to entertain her 3-year-old daughter with a game of “I Spy.” “We need more restaurant options in general close to home.”

Rosie's Delicatessen, which opened Jan. 11, has found a captive audience of diners in western Howard County. (Christina Tkacik)

The eatery was initially scheduled to launch last summer, but got hit with the usual delays like construction and hiring issues, said co-owner Anthony DiGangi. The deli, as I reported last year, is named for DiGangi’s mother, Rose, who ran her family’s New York pizzeria.

DiGangi co-owns Walker’s Tap & Table, which is located in the same shopping center as Rosie’s. He grew up on Long Island but moved to the area to help out with a concept called Lotsa Stone Fired Pizza, which fizzled out during the pandemic. But with Walker’s and now with Rosie’s, DiGangi has found a formula that works.

“We were very busy very quickly,” he said. “There really isn’t a lot in the area.”

Sinkule and her wife and child moved to a house in a wooded part of the Glenwood area about a year ago, having lived in Washington, D.C., and then Silver Spring. “She’s our biggest reason” for moving, Sinkule said, gesturing to her daughter. But there are “huge trade-offs” — dining options being foremost among them. The day they closed on their new home, they ate dinner at Walker’s.

Rosie’s co-owner Anthony DiGangi stands next to a portrait of his late mother, Rose. His Howard County deli is named in her honor. (Christina Tkacik)
Chef and partner Chad Wells is also executive chef at Walker’s Tap & Table, which is in the same shopping center. (Christina Tkacik)

In the kitchen of both places is Chad Wells, once a city chef himself. Many Baltimore diners still crave the burgers he served at Alewife, which was across the street from the Hippodrome Theatre.

Wells, who was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” while he was at the Alewife, is used to executing some off-the-wall specials at Walker’s, such as the recent Frito pie burger, a baked ziti pizza and a smoked meatloaf sandwich, which also sports a tater tot cake and broccoli cheddar sauce. But at Rosie’s, a tighter menu means he needs to spend more time and thought on sourcing. Simple food requires the best ingredients. After all, said Wells: ”Minor details are what set apart a good sandwich from a great sandwich.”

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For breakfast sandwich options, bagels come several times a week to Rosie’s from Just Bagels in the Bronx. Rolls are made by Liscio’s Bakery in New Jersey. Cold cuts come from Boar’s Head. And Wells makes the marinara sauce for the hot sandwiches using a recipe inspired by DiGangi’s mom’s own cooking. “I think marinara is more about tomatoes than anything else,” he said. What kinds of tomatoes does he use? “It’s a secret … but they’re the best tomatoes on the planet.”

Within the deli, which used to be Wheelhouse Farm Market, a miniature grocery store sells goods from local purveyors: chips from My Dad’s Chips in Gaithersburg, coffee from Baltimore-based Pfefferkorn’s Coffee and sausages from J.W. Treuth. Frozen containers of marinara sauce are made by Little Italy-based Casa di Pasta.

The most popular sandwich — and it’s not even close — is Rosie’s Italian sub, which has layers and layers of hot cappy, Genoa salami, pepperoni, ham and provolone on a hoagie roll. Say yes to the “works” (including onions sliced razor thin) plus hots, which are sliced cherry peppers. By popular demand, the deli also created a vegan version of an Italian sub, made with tofurkey; it’s called the Fugazi. DiGangi chose the name because it’s Italian American slang for the word “fake,” and Wells liked it because it’s the name of an iconic D.C. punk band led by Ian MacKaye, who is himself a vegan. Also delicious: the chicken parm sandwich, with a breaded cutlet and that terrific marinara sauce.

“My goal is to make it taste like home,” Wells said.

Christina Tkacik is the food reporter for The Baltimore Banner.

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