July 10, 2013
Sampino's Towne Foods to open Mexican takeout next door

A Mexican restaurant that will specialize in authentic south-of-the-border cuisine is scheduled to open Sept. 1 in the space next door to the iconic Sampino's Towne Foods, the "affordable Italian gourmet deli."

It will be operated by Gabriela Fabbri, co-owner of the deli with husband Michael Sampino and father-in-law Bill Sampino.

"I'm very excited about it," a breathless Fabbri said on the phone. The background noise was overwhelming, as she was in the middle of Sampino's lunch rush. "I'm running around right now... But the menu will be (based on) family recipes prepared in fast-food style. We'll have specials every day."

"It will be called 'Sampino's Comida de Pueblo' - which means 'Sampino's Towne Food' in English," said Michael Sampino with a laugh.

The space next to Sampino's was long occupied by a Chinese restaurant that closed. Michael Sampino wasn't specifically thinking of opening a new restaurant there when he began negotiations to buy the space.

"I bought it because I wanted the 20-foot hood system in its kitchen and to have more electricity," he said. "We've maxed out every ounce of electricity this building (that houses Sampino's) will allow. The (next-door) kitchen will let us double our capacity of (the foods) we can prepare for Sampino's."

It was Fabbri who came up with the idea for the Mexican fast-food concept. Fabbri, who is half Spanish and half Italian, has been developing the menu for months now. She plans a trip to Acapulco in August to interview three candidates for the chef's position.

"This is totally her baby and she gets offended if I offer my ideas," Michael Sampino said. "We're going to bring the real recipe for tacos al pastor here. I lived in Mexico City for 3-1/2 years and it's the most exquisite thing you've ever had in your life."

"Al pastor" style involves marinated spit-roasted pork roast that's shaved off "gyro style" and piled into a tortilla.

Sampino's Towne Foods is at 1607 F St., Sacramento; (916) 441-2372,

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