Tenuta’s Deli serves up a local landmark

Tenuta’s is in its 66th year of serving the Kenosha area.

It hits you as soon as you get out of your car. The smell. What is it? What is being grilled outside Tenuta’s? The aroma of original Italian sausages draws you to the order stand, while you watch the meat being cooked over an open grill, just a few feet from the entrance to Tenuta’s Deli. You know you want a sausage with some sweet peppers, but you also know you MUST go inside the deli to see what everyone has been talking about. You suck it up and decide to wait on the sausage and peppers.

Is there anything better than freshly grilled meat?

As you enter Tenuta’s Deli, Grocery and Liquor Store, you notice pictures on a bulletin board recognizing local events, such as the time when the Olympic torch came through town. Then you glance up and see lines of people waiting to check out. This is one popular store.

Tenuta’s has been a Kenosha tradition since 1950, when Jack Tenuta realized his dream of owning his own business. The Italian immigrant arrived in the United States a couple years after World War I had ended. Beginning in 1920, he worked to realize his American dream.

Tenuta’s opened selling ice cream and housing a small deli counter and grocery aisle in a building the size of a two-car garage. Today, following expansion and renovations, the third generation of Tenutas run the 66-year-old business.

The deli, grocery and liquor store is a busy place.

The Italian deli of Tenuta’s is the reason we stopped in. Man, were our expectations exceeded. I thought it would be a small deli with some type of kitsch. Nope. Tenuta’s is full out Italian deli, all the way to the fresh prosciutto. Oh, did it look good. I wanted to buy the whole piece of meat and hide in a corner to eat it.

I wanted this all to myself.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw them. Some of my favorite foods, and lots of them – olives. There had to be at least a dozen varieties of olives, each big and delicious looking. You could get them with garlic, plain or even with chili pepper flakes. The peppered olives looked like they would turn my mouth into an inferno. I didn’t want to cry in the public after eating something too spicy hot…not again (that’s another story).


So many olives. So little time.

So, after you eyeball delicious meats and vivacious olives, what’s left t drool over? Why did I ask?! Lisa grabbed me and said I needed to see the dessert case. Oh man! She can be so mean. Cakes, cupcakes, pastries call out to you from the case. Behind it, a young woman is busy creating a masterpiece – cannoli.  Oh, joy! Must. Try. One. And, we did. We ordered a couple for our walk about. Delicious!

Fresh cannoli. is there anything better?

Besides tons of amazing food choices, Tenuta’s offers some of Kenosha’s best beer and liquor selections. You name it, they probably have it.

Tenuta’s has a giant liquor supply.

The wine selection is heavenly. The store carries a brand called Holy Spirits. The choices carry recognizable names – St. Patrick (Pinot Gregio) and Joan of Arc (Chardonnay), among them.

Does drinking St. Patrick’s help drive the snakes out of Wisconsin?

As we paid for our items and headed for the door, it was time to enjoy that sausage with sweet peppers, fresh off the grill. Teamed with a side of tortellini salad, it was sooooooo good. The cannoli topped our feast for dessert.

Ah, lunch time.

Tenuta’s is more than a deli or liquor store, it’s a Kenosha tradition. It’s an attraction that all visitors should check out when in town. We love it when we learn about establishments that have an appeal to tourists and locals, alike.

For more information about Tenuta’s Deli, check out www.tenutasdeli.com or www.visitkenosha.com.