Carlino’s serves authentic Italian cuisine

Andrew Whalen

Few Main Line institutions command the loyalty and respect accorded Carlino’s in Ardmore. Their Italian specialty market, not to be confused with the Italian Market in South Philly, has garnered enough awards and acclaim to cover their walls thrice over. Luckily for generations of customers, though, Carlino’s focus remains on food, and it covers every square inch of the premises.

Carlino’s must be seen to be believed, for no limited smattering of words could ever describe the quality and depth of food here. Carlino’s has been operating since the 1980’s when they started as a small homemade pasta purveyor. The family traces their lineage and recipes to a storied farm life in Abruzzi, Italy.

Their continued close connections to the country they left behind over forty years ago enables them to import their own brand of olive oil. In addition to the hundreds of oils that are housed on their shelves, Carlino’s also has a visible in-house bakery featuring fresh breads, pizzas, strombolis and desserts.

If you like lunchmeats and cheeses with your rolls and oil, Carlino’s has that too. The deli is packed with every imaginable sandwich combination. A separate section serves as a cheese emporium. Carlino’s also hangs a variety of prosciutto selections, drawn from different regions of Italy.

Of course there is a full produce and juice section as well. One could easily gather the ingredients for a massive salad. If that is the case, pick up fresh croutons from the bakery and Carlino’s caesar dressing. If you do not think it is the best you’ve ever had, I might refund your money.

Carlino’s divine calling, however, is their prepared foods and catering service. Carlino’s could be a godsend to the off-campus student too busy or unequipped to cook a proper dinner. Lengthy display cases are stacked with every Italian dish known to man. Enormous freezers hold countless varieties of hand rolled lasagnas, shells, manicotti, tortellini, ravioli and garlic breads. My personal favorites include the veal piccata, four-cheese tortellini and sesame glazed chicken.

With winter approaching, you’d be wise to make Carlino’s your soup and chili headquarters. New soups are added daily, but hearty selections typically include chicken noodle, beef barley and vegetarian minestrone. The soups are shelved next to Carlino’s prized sauces and spreads. Carlino’s also sublimates their cultural niche with a surprising selection of enchiladas and quiche.

The greatness of Italian food lies in its origin, simplicity and comfort. Any weary student away from home can be rejuvenated by a Carlino’s meal. In fact, Carlino’s has gone out of their way to offer choice selections to out-of-state Villanova students. Every Sunday Carlino’s will feature a special dish originating from the Eagles opponent’s city.

Look for mixed trays of twice baked potatoes – “stuffed skins” – against Washington. There will be Cosmo Kramer-style corned beef specials against the Giants. A taco bar with very anticipated guacamole is being prepped for the Chargers. This is in addition to their already thick game day menu which includes assorted wing trays, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, layered Mexican dip with homemade chips and buffalo shrimp.

Lastly, good luck avoiding the dessert counter. There are cakes, pies, cookies, cannolis, tiramisu, chocolate covered pretzels, sorbets and gelatos, to name a few. Carlino’s must be repeatedly commended for their store’s remarkable cleanliness, variety and their ability to make you feel as welcome in their establishment as a friend of their family. Carlino’s is located at 2612-16 E. County Line Road, seconds from Ardmore Avenue.