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Deli-cious

Salumeria Taggiasca serves primo Italian sandwiches

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Other cities have sprawling outdoor markets with produce hawkers and fish slingers and flower vendors by the bushel. Such sanctuaries are an ethnic mishmash of culture and cuisine -- and one of the best ways to see the world without leaving the city limits. Our own Sweet Auburn Curb Market is the coolest thing going in Atlanta. And while it's a microcosm of its larger cousins, it still bustles with shoppers perusing buttery roasting fowl, fresh fruits and vegetables, slices of salted pork and other meats, and so much more. In the midst of all this is the unassuming Salumeria Taggiasca counter, a mini Italian market that serves the best sandwiches in the city, while offering olives, cheeses, meats and an array of imported products.

Service: Shop owners Franco and Beth Boeri prepare sandwiches alongside the cherubic Anna DeBenedictis and other knowledgeable employees. The simple fare they offer is a necessity since there's no kitchen or oven to speak of. Ask a question about a product, and you may get a family story or suggestions on other things that might be up your alley.

What we ate: The hardcore Italian sandwich list may seem overwhelming with its difficult-to-pronounce names and exotic ingredients (all imported from Italy, except for the Bread Garden bread). But don't despair -- you won't regret any of your choices. The Panino Imbottito ($5.50) features prosciutto cotto (more like traditional ham and not as salty as prosciutto crudo) with Fontina cheese and a vegetable of choice on either focaccia or ciabatta bread. The Toscano ($6) includes prosciutto crudo with pecorino Toscano cheese on a ciabatta. Or try the Ciociaro ($5.25): smoked mozzarella and porchetta with a vegetable. Of the seven sandwich varieties I've tried so far, my favorite is the Panino Fresco ($5.75): crudo, Robiola cheese, pesto and fresh tomatoes on a crusty baguette.

Vegetable selections include: grilled eggplant, zucchini or mushrooms; sundried tomatoes; roasted peppers; artichokes; moss mushrooms in tomato oil; marinated eggplant; or fresh tomatoes.

It's all in the name: The olives are located in large jars in a display case -- presented like the salty treasure they are. There you'll find the namesake Taggiasca olive as well as Gaeta, Calabrese, and other seasoned black or green olives ($6.50-$7 a pound depending on the variety). For those curious about the name, "Salumeria" is Italian for a meat and cheese market or deli; the owners hail from the Taggia region -- so we have an authentic Taggiasca deli right here in the Atlanta.

Not enough?: In the deli case, you'll find seafood salad -- octopus, squid and clams suspended in oil ($7.50 a pound) -- or tuna- and anchovy-stuffed peppers ($14 a pound). On weekends, fresh gnocchi and vegetable lasagnas appear -- and go fast.

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