Roasted Butternut squash, pickled Delicata, pumpkin hummus and roasted pumpkin seeds – that’s squash four ways - can be enjoyed in the vegetarian shawarma specialty at Chef Stefano Coppola’s Morse block Deli and Craft Beer Emporium in Barre. Chef Stefano may say he’s running a typical sandwich shop, but his attention to detail and culinary finesse across the menu signify that this shop is anything but typical.
Chef Stefano bought Morse Block Deli last year and just celebrated 6 months open! A sandwich shop was a new endeavor for Stefano. A NECI grad and experienced chef, Stefano has worked in and run many Vermont Fresh Network kitchens. Vermont food and beer is his passion, and Chef Stefano has always gone extra lengths to see if he can source an ingredient locally: his philosophy for the deli is no exception. Running a deli has created some challenges for the committed locavore. “People are always going to want to see tomatoes on the menu – even in February," Stefano explained, "so I play with a traditional menu and use local ingredients in a non-traditional way.” Take the most popular menu item at Morse Block Deli - Granite City. It’s not surprising that a turkey sandwich tops the list a neighborhood sandwich joint, but Chef Stefano’s turkey sandwich has a little more going on between the slices. He recently switched his local turkey source to Maple Wind Farm’s pasture raised birds from Richmond, Vermont. The turkey is first brined in a maple bourbon bath and sous vide – “to keep it extra moist,” shared Chef Stefano. Served with ‘LTO’ (lettuce, tomato and onion), cranberry mayo, Cabot cheddar, between slices of La Panciata Cranberry Pecan bread – made especially for Morse Block Deli. Taking extra care with ingredients (like the Maple Wind turkey) is Stefano’s secret for converting a typical deli customer into a local food enthusiast. It’s working. Business has been great, and the sandwich shop has been just as busy this winter as it was in the high traffic summer and autumn months.
Chef Stefano also hosts extremely popular monthly pop-up dinners at the shop. Exploring international cuisine like ramen, pho, and tamales (coming up next week!) Chef Stefano isn’t planning on adding evening hours permanently anytime soon, but a first class liquor license is in the works.