An Italian delicatessen is celebrating 20 years serving customers in Oxford.

Il Principe, the deli and takeaway, is two decades old this month.

Owner Domenico Iorio discovered the empty storefront in Cowley Road 20 years ago and has since transformed it into an Italian eatery.

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“Il Principe reflects passion, resilience, and a touch of spontaneity," said Mr Iorio.

What began as a delicatessen has since expanded into a takeaway service specialising in Neapolitan pizza, inspired by the owner’s Naples heritage.

thisisoxfordshire: Il PrincipeThe family-run team has been discussing how memorable moments have shaped the business into what it is today.

Highlights included engaging in spirited games of the Italian card game 'scopa' when business was slow in the early days, to the challenges posed by the lockdown period, and passing on pizza-making skills to Domenico’s youngest daughter, Chiara.

The owners said their resilience comes from a strong sense of family, determination, and a shared commitment to confronting challenges head-on.

Over the years Domenico worked in many Italian restaurants around the city, including Dolce Vita in Summertown, Luna Caprese on North Parade and Pizzeria Mamma Mia.

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Mr Iorio added: “The street's dynamic energy and the supportive community of business owners make it a special place to work.

"The eclectic mix of national and international cuisines means there’s something for everyone at all times of the day.”

thisisoxfordshire: Chiara making pizzaThe family-run team has said it remains dedicated to bringing the essence of Italy to Oxford.

The deli can provide homemade pasta sauces, tiramisu, and cannoli.

There is also freshly sliced charcuterie, buffalo mozzarella, and guanciale for your next carbonara.

And customers can browse the shelves for wines and a few of Italy’s favourite brands.

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The owners' top tip is to shop after 5pm when the takeaway service begins.

Referring to their pizzas, the family says: "Although we like to introduce new flavours in the form of toppings every now and then, we like to keep our dough traditional.

thisisoxfordshire: "We feel it’s the best way to honour Neapolitan culture and Italian cuisine, which is renowned for being understated and tasty.

"It’s also the best way to share a little nostalgia. We love hearing customers exclaim when they spot foods and drinks they enjoyed during a past holiday in Italy, or when a certain flavour feels like home.

"Margherita remains our favourite because of everything it represents - its history and connection to the Italian flag, and its reflection of Italian cuisine – a little goes a long way."

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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