The Boss ($8), a blend of Italy and America made with turkey, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, fresh house made pesto, balsamic vinegar, cucumber, avocado, and pepperoncini on that special focaccia blessed with olive oil that is made in-house daily from scratch. The Roamin’ Italian ($8) is pictured in the background. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

You can enjoy a taste of Europe at this delicious deli and its sister bakery

“Our food is created with few simple ingredients, but we create complex and delicious flavors,” says the owner of Springfield businesses

So many of the best stories of food involve the journey.

Lisa Freeman and her husband, Dan Freeman, have been building their story and their business since 2017 when Lisa began creating pastries and breads in her home kitchen, and selling them at Springfield farmers markets and pop-up shops.

The response was strong and the Freemans realized there was a market for what they were doing. After several trips to Europe they realized they wanted to create a similar bakery experience in Springfield to the European bakeries they had visited and fallen in love with.

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Lisa and Dan Freeman are getting ready for the grand opening of their new bakery Le Torte Dolci in downtown Springfield. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Staff Writer

In 2018, Le Torte Dolci was born filled with pastries, breads and cakes made fresh daily in small batches using quality locally sourced ingredients.

Salato Deli followed at the end of 2018 when the space next to the bakery became available for lease and the Freemans saw a new opportunity to open a true Italian delicatessen — or salumeria — like ones they had experienced in Florence, Italy.

“Our food is created with few simple ingredients, but we create complex and delicious flavors just like they do in Europe. Many of the flavors have heavy Italian and French influence,” said Lisa, who is executive chef and co-owner with Dan. “We add an authentic European aspect that hasn’t existed. There is nowhere else in Springfield to get authentic pastries or authentic Italian sandwiches.”

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Ella Freeman adjusts a plate of pastries at her parents’ downtown Springfield bakery, Le Torte Dolci. HASAN KARIM/ STAFF
Photo: Contributing Writer

For her first foray into commercial baking, Lisa Freeman’s results are impressive. The focaccia she makes for the deli has a crisp crunch when you bite into it and a soft buttery chewy middle that’s a beautiful cross between bread and pizza dough.

Once the sandwich is made, it is baked in a hot, hot oven to marry the ingredients to the bread in a quick searing action.

Best-selling sandwiches according to the Freemans are The Boss ($8), a blend of Italy and America made with turkey, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, fresh house made pesto, balsamic vinegar, cucumber, avocado, and pepperoncini on that special focaccia blessed with olive oil that is made in-house daily from scratch. The Roamin’ Italian ($8) is made with imported Italian meats including mild coppa, mortadella, and Genoa salami on freshly baked scratch made focaccia. The sandwich is topped with provolone, salt, pepper, oregano, olive oil, red wine vinegar, tomato and red onion. Both sandwiches are fresh and savory. The Boss was definitely the sandwich that won us over on a recent visit.

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Lisa and Dan Freeman opened the bakery Le Torte Dolci and Salato Deli on North Fountain Avenue in 2018. HASAN KARIM/STAFF
Photo: Contributing Writer

Salato Deli also sells pastas including a Pancetta Mac & Cheese ($9), a creamy house-made blended cheese sauce tossed with radiatore pasta topped with crispy pancetta. Dan says it’s a favorite with customers.

For drinks they feature small batch soda from New Jersey’s Pucks made with pure cane sugar. The cream soda was truly delicious and quite the treat.

After filling up with an entree, it’s time to head to the bakery for some flaky, buttery pastries.

The cream horn ($2.25), cream square ($4 filled with a variety of house-made jams or Belgian chocolate ganache), macarons ($1.75) and croissants ($3.50) filed with a variety of fillings like almond, chocolate, spinach artichoke cheese or chocolate hazelnut spread are all hugely popular with customers. A case of gelato sits near the pastry case beckoning for a closer inspection.

It’s a fresh taste of Europe made daily from scratch for a really reasonable price. Be sure to check out the specials on the board when you visit. Each day Lisa creates three to four special items at the bakery to feature. The deli has a regular menu that is the same every day featuring seven sandwiches and various pasta dishes. There’s also a featured sandwich of the month. January’s was a muffuletta.

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Employees stand behind the counter of downtown Springfield bakery Le Torte Dolci. The owners of the bakery, Dan and Lisa Freeman, hope to open their third downtown European-inspired eatery by March. HASAN KARIM/ Staff
Photo: Contributing Writer

If none of the featured sandwiches hits you, there’s an option to build your own.

“We are constantly innovating and being creative with both the items that we sell, as well as how we sell them. Customers expect a unique dining experience and want to be able to trust their food. They also love to try new things and be a part of something new and different. We want to give them those new and different products and experiences,” said Lisa. “My favorite dishes to make are laminated doughs and macarons because they are both very technical. Doughs are living things — because of the yeast — and behave very differently based on the environment and I like the science of why they act the way they do. Macarons are so precise and the smallest thing can affect the outcome. I like the challenge.”

This year the Freemans will be opening their third eatery in downtown Springfield in the next few months inside COhatch The Market.

Their newest business venture will be called Crust & Company and will offer fresh baked breads and authentic Roman style pizza.

“We do pop-events every month. In the past we’ve done eight-course dinners, Sunday brunches, breakfasts, and different cuisines. We did a BBQ pop-up and we are planning some pop-ups collaborating with other local restaurants. We also frequently do pairing events and we have an upcoming Sips & Sweets pairing event scheduled with Yellow Springs Brewery,” said Lisa.

Window seats at the Salato Deli and Le Torte Dolci bakery. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Photo: Contributing Writer

At the deli, they are planning some menu improvements and additions as well as adding online ordering.

“We will begin new pasta offerings to include a white sauce as well as preparing tossed pastas to order. We are considering creating a separate dinner menu with additional options,” said Lisa.

As Dan points out, their businesses were born out of a love for creating food that puts smiles on people’s faces. Having dined there and seen smiles myself, I would say they are realizing their dreams and Springfield is all the better for it.

HOW TO GO

What: Le Torte Dolci and Salato Deli

Where: 38B N. Fountain Ave. and 40 N. Fountain Ave., Springfield

More info: salatodeli.com, 937-342-3938 or letortedolci.com, 937-617-2253

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