While only open for a few weeks, Palmerino’s in downtown Morgan Hill already has its regulars who crave authentic Italian sandwiches, pasta, meatballs and other staples of the cuisine.
The Connie Polpette, a sandwich stuffed with meatballs, mozzarella, parmigiano and sauce served with Pugliese bread, has proven to be one of the most popular items on the menu.
It’s immensely gratifying for owner Tommy Palmer, as the sandwich was created in honor of his grandmother Connie Cannino, using her recipes for the sauce and meatballs.
Cannino’s passing in 2017 set Palmer on a path into the culinary world, with a goal to share his family’s recipes with the broader community.
Palmerino’s, 35 East Main Ave., celebrated its grand opening in early February, and people waited as long as two hours to get into the door to not only grab a sandwich from an extensive menu, but also take home items from a selection of more than 400 imported Italian products as well as locally sourced ingredients.
The excitement surrounding the Italian deli doesn’t show signs of slowing down, as the establishment was enjoying brisk business even during the post-lunch period on a recent Thursday.
“There’s been a lot of excitement and support,” Palmer said. “We’re very fortunate. It seems like the whole town wants us to succeed.”
Palmerino’s began as a Morgan Hill-based cottage food operation that sells Palmer’s hand-cooked pasta and offers in-home cooking classes.
He always envisioned operating a storefront, but building owners were hesitant with his lack of business experience and the fact that he was not a certified chef.
So, Palmer enrolled in the Italian Culinary Institute in Staletti, Italy, undergoing an intense 12-week course that covered nearly everything there is to learn about Italian cuisine. He graduated in April 2019.
It was shortly after when Palmer met Joe and Lisa Raineri of Terra Amico Farms, looking to buy some tomato plants from their San Martin property. The Raineris, looking to support Palmer on his quest, invited him to cook during special events at Terra Amico Farms, showcasing local ingredients, which they continue to host monthly.
After waiting for space to open up, the East Main Street location became available, and Palmerino’s began renovating the spot in October. Palmer said he was thankful the public was patient after various delays kept the business from opening on its original date.
The business features many wooden touches crafted by Joe Raineri, including the outside tables, countertops and the signage on East Main Street.
Palmer said he wants to open the space for locals to showcase their Italian food products, and is reaching out to those who helped him in his journey.
In addition, with the large selection of imported products, Palmer encourages customers to stop in and interact with him and the staff to find inspiration for their next dish.
“When people come in, we want them to feel welcome, kick up their feet and relax,” he said. “We aspire to have this be a space where people can slow down and enjoy the experience.”
Palmer praised his staff, adding that the business is in the process of hiring more to meet demand.
“I’ve been blessed with this amazing team,” he said. “This crew is just amazing.”
Palmerino’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11am to 7pm. For information, visit palmerinos.com.