First, it’s your niece’s Holy Communion, then Mother’s Day. Next, it’s the company picnic, Radnor Hunt, Devon Horse Show and Memorial Day—all intertwined with your son’s middle school and your goddaughter’s high school graduations. Luckily, you’re not hosting every event, but you’ve been charged with bringing a different dish to each party. With all that flitting about, the chances of you hitting the market and then transforming the ingredients into something pretty and edible are slim to none.
Fake it, don’t make it, with a trip—or five—to Carlino’s Café & Gourmet Market in West Chester. Begin at the brick-oven/pizza/stromboli counter, conveniently flanked by two cases of deli and prepared items. Next stop is the cheese section, brimming with one of the most luscious collections of fromage in the area. Call ahead for better-than-Grandma’s family-style helpings of antipasto, pasta, seafood and meat platters—lobster or porcini mushroom ravioli, chicken melanzana (eggplant) or pomodoro (with provolone cheese, fresh tomatoes and basil in a perky lemon sauce)—but window-shopping is much more fun, especially with a freshly brewed cappuccino in hand. Carlino’s also makes its own salsas, chips, olive oil and balsamic vinegar—all great hostess gifts. And if you want to turn heads at Radnor Hunt this year, the scent of Carlino’s roasted porchetta will do just that. Or order up a round of seared Black Angus kebabs and baby-back ribs. They’ll cook them for you, but if you want to be a hero, add a portable propane grill to your order.
Carlino’s one-stop shopping takes it full-tilt with un-Italian, but oh-so-yummy, sushi offerings; check out the platter selection on the Web. Play your cards right, and you won’t have to turn on your stove for the entire month of May.
128 W. Market St., West Chester; (610) 696-3788, carlinosmarket.com.