Little Italy Deli & Bakery has been an Inverness institution and family-run affair for almost 45 years.
Located at 124 N. Apopka Ave., near the county courthouse, it was a place known for friendly storytelling and singing as much as its Italian food, with recipes handed down for 100 years.
But the business has announced on its Facebook page it is closing and will only be open for two weeks “to sell whatever food and beverage remains” in-house with discount.”
Little Italy was closed Memorial Day and the managers could not be reached for comment. The dining area had been closed since around March 25 and had been offering takeout and curbside service during the worst of the coronavirus crisis. It reopened May 12 with special guidelines with limited capacity. Some outdoor seating had been added.
Little Italy was truly a family affair.
Owners Alfredo and Donna Cali took over Little Italy in 1993. For 17 years before that, it was run by Donna’s uncle and aunt, Josephine and Vito Masellis.
Although they maintain full ownership of Little Italy, Alfredo and Donna Cali now live in California, where they run another Italian restaurant, according to their website.
Chef/cook Rosario Cali and his wife Patricia now manage the restaurant. Rosario came to help in 1999, fell in love with Inverness. He met Patricia at Little Italy in 2012.
Dinners were prepared from scratch at Little Italy and folks needed a reservation. There was no menu. Care was given to people’s special dietary needs.
There was also a variety of meats, cheeses, coffees and teas.
Facebook was alive with comments, all lamenting the imminent closing. Some samples: “So sad to hear this.” “We will miss you. You’ve been here for so long.” Inverness will not be the same without you.”
One commentor said it is “extremely hard” for a small business to survive after being closed for two-and-a-half months.