To grow white asparagus, the spears of the vegetable are shaded from the sunlight, thereby inhibiting the formation of the chlorophyll that gives the normal variety its characteristic green color. The same mechanism was used to breed the form of white cauliflower that is the most common in the U.S. Cauliflower is available in myriad colors, however, and some of these alternate varieties come with additional benefits; purple cauliflower, for example, is loaded with the same antioxidants found in red wine. Unlike the successful differentiation of colored cauliflower, A.G. Ferrari Foods’ attempt to stand out from the typical sandwich stop and market falls flat.
A.G. is a cute market for imported Italian fare such as olive oil and pasta, with a deli full of pre-made goods as well as sandwiches made to order. There are a couple of tables for patrons to eat lunch in the restaurant, but one could just as easily order a picnic to go.
There are some phenomenal sandwiches. The Puglia is scrumptious. The roasted vegetables are tender but perfectly al dente and provide a nice contrast with the mozzarella. The sandwich masterfully balances sweet, sour and salty and is encapsulated in an absolutely amazing rustic baguette. Most sandwich options, however, are less noteworthy. The Campania is similar to a caprese salad on a fluffy filone, and while certainly tasty, is a step short of the Puglia, its vegetarian relative. The Sardegna tuna salad sandwich pairs a mild tapenade with a tuna salad that is not too heavy on the mayonnaise, but the focaccia is cottony and swallows some of the flavor. The ciabatta that comes with the Tuscana sandwich is tough and, when combined with the salami, creates a chewy sandwich that is savory but too much to wrestle with. The Basilicata sandwich has such an incredible lightness to it that it is a shame it comes off as so bland. The sun-dried tomatoes and roasted red pepper sauce are not as sweet as they need to be to impart any excitement to this sandwich.
There are a host of decent deli options, but none are spectacular. The Polletto chicken wings have a subtle hint of molasses sweetness to them, but the meat is not particularly tender and is a bit too tough to work off the bone. The Fritelle di Carciofi artichoke heart fritter has a creamy texture and is smooth enough to let the artichoke come through, but the shell lacks the crispiness that lends fritters their satisfying crunch. The butternut squash soup is hearty without being excessively rich, but the flavor profile is relatively one-dimensional.
There are also some clear misses on the menu. The Frittata di Spinaci is a spinach, egg and potato torte that has an almost marine overtone; despite its pleasant, fluffy texture, it does not heat up well and the taste is off. Likewise, the Lenticchie e Spinaci lentil salad is excessively vinegary and an overall disaster.
If you order well, A.G. Ferrari has good potential as a casual lunch spot, especially well suited for balmy spring and summer weather. Unfortunately, there are enough holes in the menu and generally mediocre plates that you could leave somewhat disappointed, especially if your order is going to be placed in the microwave and eaten in the store. In light of all the potential pitfalls, A.G. Ferrari ends up in the “middle of the road.”