According to the Colosimo family, Ralph Colosimo didn’t come to Utah in 1921 from his home in Calabria, Italy to make sausage. He immigrated to America for the same reasons so many people from foreign lands find their way here today: to raise a family and to find opportunities that didn’t exist back home. And so, in the early 1920s, Ralph Colosimo found himself working in Utah’s mining towns, occasionally sharing his homemade Italian sausages with friends and co-workers. Apparently, they were always well received and Colosimo was encouraged to sell his sausages to the public. Thus, in 1923, Rome Market'the original “Colosimo’sâ€'was born out in Magna, at the corner of 9200 West and 2900 South.
Over the years, Colosimo would divide his time between working at the Kennecott copper mine and making and selling sausages in the Rome Market, depending on whether times were good or bad'the market was open through the Great Depression and World War II. During those years, Colosimo met and married Rose Barbiero, and the couple had four children. Upon returning from the Army after World War II, sons Gabriel (Gale) and Ernie went into the family business. Ernie opened a store called the Standard Market, and both Ernie and Gale learned to make Italian sausage the old-fashioned way from Ralph. Today, Ernie’s and Gale’s sons'Larry, Joe and Paul Colosimo'continue the family tradition as third-generation sausage makers, and a couple of years ago opened Colosimo’s Market & Deli in Sandy.
Any business that survives and thrives for 80-plus years must offer a key ingredient: quality. And that is certainly true of Colosimo’s, “The Sausage People.” I’m not very picky about grilling equipment'I’ll cook using a $10,000 custom-made outdoor range, a rusty old Weber or a hibachi'but I’m very picky about what goes on my grill. And I wouldn’t even think of serving my guests supermarket sausage when there’s Colosimo’s to be had'although that’s not quite literally true anymore, since you can now find Colosimo’s sausage at Associated Food Stores like Dan’s Foods.
To get the full range of sausage offerings, you’ll need to travel to Colosimo’s Market & Deli on 700 East in Sandy. The Colosimos like to “tinker,” as they put it, with sausage recipes and new variations, and have created some 40 or so different types of sausage, although not all at once. You can always find traditional hot and mild Italian sausage at Colosimo’s, made pretty much the same way it was in the ’20s. And Colosimo’s usually has Polish, Cajun-style, pork, chorizo, maple and bratwurst sausages, and the like, on hand.
But wander into Colosimo’s Market & Deli and you’ll also find sausage specials like the simple, zippy black-pepper sausage I enjoyed for lunch last week with sautÃ©ed red peppers, onions and melted provolone on top. A good way to try out more than one of Colosimo’s sausages is to order the sausage sampler ($6.95) at the deli counter. You get a choice of three different sausages, along with soup, green salad, pasta salad or potato chips.
Recently, I picked up a box of summer sausage (cervelat), a mild-tasting sausage with a hint of mustard tang to it. And whenever I’m at Colosimo’s, I always stock up on linguica, a cured and smoked Portuguese sausage made with pork, cumin, cinnamon and loads of garlic. It’s terrific in Spanish paella, on pizza or all by itself. In general, I find Colosimo’s sausages to be less fatty and a little bit denser than typical store-bought sausage. That’s probably because at Colosimo’s, they don’t use low-quality fillers, off-cuts or leftover trim parts (i.e. fat and gristle), and only use quality pork shoulder for their pork products.
You say you don’t eat pork or beef? That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t enjoy Colosimo’s. They make very good versions of chicken-apple-sage sausage and Italian turkey sausage. I also keep hoping and wishing that, one day, the Colosimo’s will venture into boudin blanc territory'but then I’d have to move my operation to Sandy.
Yes, the Colosimos are sausage-centric. But don’t get the idea that’s all they have to offer. At Colosimo’s Market & Deli, you’ll find all sorts of good things to eat, from frozen homemade tortellini, ravioli, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, pizzas and newly added cheese-stuffed jumbo shells, to all the olive oils, spices, pre-made sauces and gourmet Italian ingredients you’ll need to create a magnificent feast at home.
Even simpler, just order up a hot or cold sandwich, or maybe a steaming hot pasta dish at Colosimo’s and eat it on the spot in its cozy cafÃ© (beer available). The twice-baked penne ($6.95) and rich sausage lasagna ($7.95) both taste like they might have been made by Ralph’s own grandmother, back in Italy. But it’s more likely that Connie Colosimo (Gale’s wife) is behind that sensational lasagna. By the way, along with friendly counter help like Christine, there are usually at least one or two Colosimo family members not far from the action. So quality control is never an issue'another reason for 80 years of success.
Here’s a salute to Utah’s original sausage makers. As a T-shirt sold in the deli says, “That’s one impressive sausage!”