What’s in store?

Big bites at Jerardi’s Little Store

By Paula Johnson

Photo: The Triple Decker sandwich at Jerardi’s Little Store; photo: Amanda Dee

When I was a little kid, I went to a little store. The one in my neighborhood was called Paterni’s, but I knew it simply as “The Little Store.” It was where moms would send you to get bread and milk, and where all the kids would go to buy penny candy. My little store had racks and racks of every kind of penny candy you could imagine. It was heavenly. I would save all the spare change I could scrounge to come home with a paper bag filled with candies of every variety. Jerardi’s Little Store on Peters Pike in Dayton used to be such a store. It was called Edna’s Little Store then, before it was bought 22 years ago by Eric Jerardi, who turned it into a grown-up-girl’s-little-store dream come true – candy has given way to Cabernet!

Oenophile’s Emporium

The tiny structure on the side of the road gives no indication of the wine lover’s paradise that awaits. I perused the aisles as I waited for fellow DCP lunch companions to arrive, and I began to calculate just how much I could spend on wine to take home, remembering how I used to count my change for penny candy back in the day. I didn’t need wine—I was fully stocked—but that wasn’t the point. Here, I was seeing some of my favorite varietals and a crazy good selection at every price range. I noted bottles from $9 to upwards of  $150, clearly something for everyone’s budget. Owner Eric Jerardi specializes in wines from France and Italy, with a selection from other regions of the world, as well.  There’s beer, too, I noted, spying a Framboise Lambic and a few other favorites in the beer case. According to the store’s website, there are more than 100 domestic, imported, and craft beers in stock. You’ll also find an array of Italian imported foods, such as pastas, olive oils, jars of peppers, and sauces. The Little Store is the place to get premium steaks, rack of lamb, and fresh fish on certain days of the week, not to mention it’s an Italian deli with all the standard meats, cheeses, and salads.

A Place to Taste

I bought a few bottles to take home: a 2008 Noble House Ice Wine from Germany $25.95, an Anciano Tempranillo $12.99, and an end of summer special a Clarendelle Bordeaux Rose on sale for $9.99. Jerardi saw me eyeing it and said, “This is a great transitional rose – it’s a little heavier than most, which are the ones you think about for summer. It’s 59 percent merlot and the rest is cabernet. It’s terrific for fall. And, it’s an amazing price.” His great sales pitch worked on me. I am looking forward to sampling it before the frost sets in. I noticed on The Little Store’s Facebook page that Jerardi is big on running specials and end of year clearance sales to make room for more inventory. I also noticed The Little Store does custom wine tastings, curated by Jerardi, for beginners as well as more seasoned palates. Seeing what Jerardi stocks, this sounds like it would be a cut above the usual tasting, and something I would love to try, particularly after investigating the culinary side of The Little Store. Specifically, their guest chef service where they create a meal to go along with the wine. (I got very interested in Jerardi’s food as I heard him discuss preparing a rillette, one of my favorite, classic French dishes.)

Jerardi’s does a lot of this, in addition to larger catering jobs. It’s why, according to the lovely lady who was helping me, they plan to do a major expansion of their kitchen in the coming year. “Does that mean you’ll add seating?” I ask, noting there would be nowhere for my crew and me to sit once we ordered lunch. “No! Never!” comes her quick response. “We don’t want to be a restaurant!” I then asked about where we might go to take our sandwiches to eat outside since it was such a beautiful day. Eric Jerardi came to the rescue, pointing out the single narrow bench out on the small front porch and even adding an extra chair to accommodate the four of us.

So, what did we eat? Our favorite was the Italian Sub ($8.00) featuring Genoa salami, ham, hot ham, and provolone on a sub roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, banana peppers, mayo, oil and vinegar, and Italian herbs. “This is what Subway should taste like,” I comment upon biting into the sandwich. The teenaged daughter of one of our crew had joined us on our outing. She says, “You’re right! Why does this taste different?” Teachable moment to show the difference quality ingredients make—she will never look at (or taste) Subway the same again, and that means I’ve done my job! Also popular was the Triple Decker ($7.00) with smoked ham, Swiss, turkey, and Colby with  mayo, honey mustard, lettuce, tomato, and onion. This sandwich was the sort that’s completely impossible to get your mouth around, so large it leaves enough for another meal, practically. High marks also to the chicken salad, potato salad, and Italian bean salad we tried.

The Cookie Lady

The lovely lady who helped also turned out to be the cookie lady; Peanut Butter was the cookie of the day, baked fresh every morning. “I bake them a couple of times more a day when we run out of them,” she informs us. “This is the best cookie I ever ate!” exclaims our junior member, as she chewed the warm crumbles. Yes, nothing like fresh baked verses one packed with preservatives out of a bag. Another win for quality food. So, take a trip to Jerardi’s Little Store. It’s a win in a big way.

Jerardi’s Little Store is located at 7325 Peters Pike in Dayton. For more information, please call 937.890.8858 or visit JerardisLittleStore.com.

Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Dayton City Paper Dining Critic Paula Johnson would like every meal to start with a champagne cocktail and end with chocolate soufflé. As long as there’s a greasy burger and fries somewhere in the middle. Talk food with Paula at PaulaJohnson@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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