Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Roma Italian Deli & Grocery
Then it hit me: Roma Italian Deli, up on the corner of Lake and Mountain, in the same shopping center as Pietro's, has been in Pasadena for more than 50 years. The place is a gem, a worn-in market filled with the aromas of cheese and produce, with a great little selection of imported wines tucked in to the corner of the shop. I have stopped in many times over the years to pick up some of their great frozen pizzas or cold cuts and pasta, but I have never had one of their famous sandwiches. That's what I decided to get.
I ran into my friend John while waiting in line at Roma; he was picking up some pancetta for a recipe he was making that evening. I told him that I was getting The Sandwich for the first time. "Aw yeah," he said, "they're pretty good."
When it was my turn I said to the man behind the counter "I'd like two sandwiches, please." The old man who was sitting down in the corner - the owner - quickly stood up and announced "I will make them."
He sliced the rolls and slicked them with more olive oil than was probably necessary, but they looked very pretty. Then he started layering on the meat: mortadella, capicola, salami, and Provolone cheese. That's it and there are no options. If you want lettuce or tomatoes or mayonnaise, you best go to Subway 1000 feet up Lake Ave.
Five minutes later I unwrapped the sandwich and photographed it. The bread was great: slightly crusty on the outside, soft and chewy inside. The sandwich tasted like a wonderful cold cuts tray. It was slightly fatty, incredibly salty, and completely delicious. I needed at least two pints of water to wash away the saltiness, but it was well worth it. Would I have liked it with some lettuce and perhaps pepperoncini? Probably. But I respect the sandwich being made the way it is.
It was a very good sandwich, though I would probably pull up short of calling it great. But there is an undeniable charm to it: the dearth of condiments, the way the man behind the counter makes it for you then wraps it in butcher paper, the familiarity of the flavors both individually and melded together. I will certainly return for more of these.
Posted by JustinM at 11:08 AM