The Joy of Potato Salad

A while back I went to the funeral of an ex- girl-friend’s father — but that is not the reason for this essay.

After the ceremony and while chatting with the family members, a lady stepped up and introduced herself.  We had never met but she is very well-known as being a key member of what I call a tap-root family for our (now) mid-size town.  Turns out that she is close friends with my high school ex-girl friend.  She is a “Pedroni” and her family is famous for a huge part of the food industry in Petaluma.  Many books could be written. . .

Pedronis potato salad at LombardisI want to call out why meeting her gave me such joy.  While I was in the womb, my mom worked a couple of doors away from a deli named, Pedroni’s, which  carried their flagship recipe, Pedroni’s Potato Salad or PPS as devotees call it.

My mom developed a obsessive pregnancy-compulsion for it.

Over the years, it became extremely popular — so legendary that it remains today as a favorite side dish shared by (I predict) tens of thousands.

Mom kept working until I made it impossible, and joked how I had to be addicted because I was literally gestated in the stuff.  It became a staple for our family and meals were always better with a big bowl of it in the center of the table.

Meeting Ms. Pedroni was like meeting the Nobel Laurette of Potato Salad. She assured me that the recipe is still a secret and that the original remains back home in her “substantial” safe.

The salad remains available today at a deli owned by relatives of the original family and remains popular despite costing way too much for anyone whose DNA has not been chemically altered to depend on it.  If you’ve tried it – you understand.

If you don’t live nearby but ever make it through Petaluma, California, you need to stop by Lombardi’s Deli out on the north end of town (North Petaluma Blvd. at Corona Road) and pick up a bowl.  Yes, it’s expensive – but so worth it, I mean how many salads have at least a 7-decade wake of potato salad groupies like me behind it. My advice is to buy more than you think you’ll need because, unless it’s just you and a 50-gallon drum of it, you’re going to want more than you thought wise.

If you’re new to Petaluma (and we know who you are) you need to taste and risk becoming addicted to this amazing salad. Now that I’ve told you where to get it, you are without excuse.

It was a huge pleasure to meet Ms. Pedroni, shake her hand and thank her for an addiction that stretches back 9 months longer than my legal age.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make a PPS run myself.  What?  You no longer live in Petaluma  and can’t just make a run for it — I’m so sorry for bringing it up and causing you such pain.

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13 thoughts on “The Joy of Potato Salad

    1. Hi Rebecca.
      I hope you do get the chance.
      Look up Lombardi’s Deli when you get into town. It’s a walkthrough fabulous lunch place. Tell the person who takes your order that you want to try pedroni’s potato salad. You have a great lunch and I hope you agree that it’s s amazing potato salad.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. My family is from Petaluma and I am now living in St Augustine Florida. 50 years later when I think of making potato salad (I am making it today and was looking for Pedroni’s recipe) Pedroni’s makes my mouth water just thinking about it.


    1. Ha – It sounds like you and I share an affliction. The only real difference is I’m close enough to Petaluma that I can drive to Lombardi’s on Pet. Blvd. North and pick up an expensive little dish of it.
      And now, my mouth is watering for it.
      Maybe a road trip here in a few hours…
      Thanks for stopping by.


  2. I have no idea where Petaluma is but it sounds like a place I’d love to visit. They don’t do shipping, do they? Another great story!


    1. Hi Deb.
      This is such a funny little story but I’m glad you found it.
      Petaluma is easy to imagine where it is, In good traffic, it’s about an hours drive north of San Francisco, right on the southern tip of he Sonoma County wine region.
      It was a great place to grow up in, but is bigger and more crowded now. The small town feel remains, but us old timers know it’s not the same – except for that potato salad – it is still amazing.
      They do some shipping of eggs and milk but as much as before.
      Thanks for giving it a read.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. No fare Gary, I can taste it just at the mention of it’s deliciousness. I’m up in Washington….always knew this was way too far away from PPS! Me thinks it’s time for a road trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Lin,
      Yup – every other month or so, I can’t take it any longer and drive the whole 10 minutes to Lombardi’s for a tub of PPS. It’s still expensive but is the only thing that touches that certain combination of taste buds and my prenatal genetics. Wicked good stuff.
      Next time you’re here – I buy us a round.


  4. Hi Gary! I also grew up in Petaluma, and I first met the Pedronis when their son and I were on the same swim team. As a kid perhaps I didn’t fully appreciate the deliciousness of their family’s deli and their potato salad. After I moved away, my mom kept the memory alive and grew the lore. She always stopped by the Petaluma Market after her haircut to get Pedroni’s as a “treat.” She brought it as her contribution to every pot luck. Since I moved back during the pandemic, I’ve renewed and grown my own fandom and now get it every week, either from Lombardi’s or PM (in fact I have what’s left of a pint in the fridge as we speak!). Paul Pedroni still makes it himself. I was just googling the nutritional info for it and came across your story. I relate on so many levels so had to reach out! I’ll look out for you around town!!


    1. Hello and thank you for this comment.

      My wife and I last enjoyed this taste marvel only about a week ago as part of a deli lunch from Lombardi’s, so I offer a hearty amen to your words. Interesting that you too moved away and have moved back. My wife is not from here but I did the same. Are you also a Petaluma High School graduate?

      The way my blog site works is that I often get readers who don’t identify themselves and that was the case with your comment. So, I don’t know who you are – or if you’ll even see this response. I’d love to know who I’m talking to so one more response would be welcomed.

      If you like reading stories about growing up in Petaluma, I have more than a few on my blog site. Consider yourself invited to give them a read, I promise – they’re not like any autobiographical story you may have ever read. They’re short, entertaining, rowdy with no boring data dumps. Regardless, I’m so glad you read this story and took the time to let me know. Here’s the link if you need a laugh or two.


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