Bright, airy, well-stocked and convenient. What more could a downtown want? Welcome, then to the little market that can, D’Angelo, on the corner of Tulane and Spring streets. This much needed addition to the daily rhythm of life in downtown Princeton provides urban dwellers with a small but easily accessible resource for fresh foods and gourmet prepared meals. With the central business district of town burgeoning with new residential options, those of us who live within walking distance of Palmer Square have been at a loss should we need more than milk or packaged snacks. Now those in need of something more substantial have a destination that doesn’t require a car.

The parking lot on this quiet corner was replaced about a year ago with an elegant apartment complex and more housing units are coming shortly a few blocks away. But, for those who have chosen to live in town, a wealth of restaurants and shopping destinations doesn’t address more mundane needs such as where to get dishwashing detergent at 10 p.m. The answer to this dilemma opened on Saturday, January 22, and place was soon bustling with visitors eagerly exploring the wide range of fresh meats and prepared foods, the fresh fruit and produce, and the stone oven pizza offerings. But plenty of folks were wandering the aisles with their compact shopping carts full of staples and treats.

True to its Italian heritage, D’Angelooffers a wide range of imported delights such as specialty cheeses, sausages, fresh and dry pastas, and a range of aged, really aged, balsamic vinegars. Fresh bread and pastries and cookies are baked on premises. Yet it is the chance to purchase fresh meats and produce that distinguish the venue.

High ceilinged, the space is decorated with rich wood accents that elevate the small dining area from the usual supermarket space. Not quite a restaurant, not pure take-out, the area devoted to the pizza oven offers a comfortable respite. My friend and I headed over for dinner on Saturday about 6 p.m. and the place was still jumping. We both chose personal pizzas ($7.95 for a Margherita (or plain), up to $9.95 for more meat options). They were ready in a trice, hot and melty. Goodly sized, a single pizza with a couple of side dishes would make a filling meal for two. There’s even a chocolate pizza with Nutella. More complete dinners are available ranging from pasta ($9.95 to $12.95 for shrimp and asparagus tips in a cream sauce), to chicken or veal dishes in two sizes. Soups or antipasti to start, full entrees, and dessert round out an entire dinner. BYO is welcome.

I found a delicious surprise in the frozen food section, elegant desserts ready to serve in glassware ($5.99 each). A party on the spur of the moment could easily and creatively be whipped up from the wide variety of main courses and starters ready to hand.

D’Angelo is the spot for a quick bite or a nicer sit down before or after a movie. Open until from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday (to 10 p.m. on weeknights and to 9 on Sunday), it offers an option for after theater; pick up dinner and head back to the house, or sit down for a hot meal. And while you are there, don’t forget the milk for the morning.

D’Angelo Italian Market, 35 Spring Street, Princeton. 609-921-0404. Fax: 609-921-6161.

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