Dan Madaffari, owner of MadaVera’s, an Italian bakery and New York style deli, has been involved in the food industry in Florida for decades. With 25 years experience in restaurant management — overseeing everything from advertising and marketing to hiring — he managed corporate food chains, as well as launching new restaurants for private individuals.
“But one day last year, I told myself I’m not going to open a restaurant for anyone else — only me,” he said. “And so MadaVera’s was conceived.”
Madaffari and his wife, Elecia, put their heads together and decided they wanted to open an authentic Italian bakery and NY-style deli. The name of the bakery and deli would be MadaVera’s — a combination of their surnames - ‘Mada’ from Dan’s last name and ‘Vera’ from Elecia’s maiden name Primavera.
Both coming from tight-knit Italian families, the project quickly became a family affair, including Madaffari’s father-in-law — “Joey Bread” as he is known. He started baking in a Brooklyn Bakery at the age of 10 and has been baking now for over 50 years.
“So my wife and I called him and told him we were going to open MadaVera’s and would he like to do some baking,” chuckled Madaffari.
“When I set out to open MadaVera’s, it was my mom, dad and sister that helped make this dream come true,” said Madaffari. “Now, we have a total of six family members involved in the business.”
Opened in April last year, it hasn’t taken long for the word to get out about the bakery and deli.
The food at MadaVera’s is simple, intuitive and prized for the quality of ingredients used.
“Everything you see here is made from scratch,” Madaffari says. “Everything is authentic; nothing is brought in — batter, dough, icing, bread, it’s all made right here,” he emphasized.
The bread is baked fresh every morning by “Joey Bread”; we use only imported Italian meats distributed by local vendors and fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers, added Madaffari.
“My father-in-law is a really experienced baker and prepares everything from scratch, including the Italian breads and New York hard rolls”, he said.
“We do sell our fresh-from-the-oven bread separately,” said Madaffari, but only at the weekends.”
If Primavera’s bread isn’t authentic enough, it’s what Madaffari puts between the slices that will make you think you’re in the Big Apple.
Customers at MadaVera’s line up for authentic deli sandwiches stuffed with ingredients like pastrami, capicola, corned beef, salami, pepperoni, ham and Provolone.
“We use only the first cut brisket or ‘navel’ which has more fat content and, when steamed, allows for a perfect marbling and tenderness,” he said.
For those not familiar with corned beef or pastrami — both cuts of beef are cured, meaning they've been brined in a salt water solution. The brine may or may not include spices and seasoning. It’s only after curing that the cooking process differs. Corned beef is boiled while pastrami is smoked.
Capicola is a traditional Italian and Corsican pork cold cut made from pork shoulder. It’s dry cured and usually sliced very thin.
“All our sandwiches are made with a half-pound of meat, typically with the meat on the bottom, then we add all the veggies in between and then we put a layer of meat on the top,” said Madaffari.
“When we first opened, we only prepared sandwiches as detailed on our menu,” he said. “But our customers wanted variations so now we build their sandwiches as desired,” he said.
"There’s layers involved but all very affordable,” he said, adding again that it’s OK for customers to mix and match. “The sandwiches listed on our menu are just suggestions of good pairings or combinations," he added.
“Together, the smoked pastrami and the boiled corned beef make the different flavors, he explained. “Then we quick steam for all our customers,” he added.
On the menu, the MadaVera’s Original comes with a half-pound of steamed pastrami and corned beef on a toasted hero roll with lettuce, tomato, mustard, Swiss, and bacon; the Steak & Cheese uses shaved Angus ribeye simmered in a house-made white Cheddar cheese sauce and finished off with melted Provolone, onions, mushrooms and peppers.
But MadaVera’s Muffaletta, first created in 1906 in New Orleans by Italian immigrants reigns supreme. It’s made with Sicilian-style focaccia and stuffed with meats, cheese, and olive salad.
“Our Muffaletta is made with our very own baked focaccia bread which makes a big difference,” said Madaffari.
Unique to MadaVera’s are their hot dogs from around the nation. A total of 11 varieties can be rustled up to order.
“We chose the top 11 cities throughout the US,” said Madaffari. “From New York to Seattle and we tailored them for our customers.”
Other hot dog cities include Denver, Detroit, Boston, Kansas City, West Virginia, New Jersey and Atlanta.
“The New Jersey Ripper is called that because when we deep fry the dog, it’s rips apart,” said Madaffari.
“Everything here is so good,” said regular customer Stacey Hart.
She thinks nothing of driving a half-hour trip from her home to MadaVera’s to buy their sandwiches and pastries.
“I’m here this morning to get a breakfast hero and also a lunch hero for my husband — I love absolutely everything here,” she said. “Especially the desserts,” pointing to the two chilled pastry cabinets overflowing with rich Italian pastry delights.
“Driving this far is definitely worth it,” she said.
“Joey Bread” also makes all the Italian desserts on display in two chilled display cabinets overflowing with Italian filled butter cookies, cannoli, rainbow cookies, éclairs and gorgeous, mile-high Napoleons just oozing with sweetness and cream.
“We mix 90 to 120 pounds of cream cheese a week for our NY-style cheesecakes and approximately 40 to 60 pounds of Impastata cheese to make the fillings in most of our pastries, he said.
Impastata cheese is the Cadillac of Ricotta cheese that is made only in one region of Sicily and contains less moisture than store-bought ricotta cheese, he explained. “And we only ever use homemade Italian custard.”
Most all Italian specialties and favorites can be found at MadaVera’s. From cheesecakes to Italian éclairs to Rum Babas and an array of other delectable confections — each one handmade and also in demand by many local restaurants and businesses in Hernando County.
What makes MadaVera’s special is the consistent quality of the perfectly executed sandwiches and Italian staples Madaffari and his family put out every day.
Give your taste buds a treat and sample their Italian breads and pastries — a true delight.
MadaVera's full menu can be found at www.madaveras.com and orders can be placed by phone. Full-service catering also is available.
Address: 2284 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Phone: (352) 686-9064