Roma Deli’s Half-Century of Sandwich

"This is not Bay Cities' Godmother. This is a much more humble sandwich, made with care and love, by a man who has been doing this for 52 years," says Mr Taster. He's talking about the sandwich at Roma Italian Deli. It's a wonderful thing, with rich, buttery, flavorful meat, crusty bread, and just the right touch of olive oil.

First of all, there's no menu; there's just The Sandwich. The content varies, pretty much depending on what Rosario, the Sandwich Man, has smallish chunks of. One day it might be stunning mortadella, or some capicola, or some prosciutto and salami. "He splits a roughly 10-inch loaf lengthwise, dribbles a good lashing of olive oil on each half, then starts laying on the mortadella (and if you're lucky as I was he'll hand you a slice just for the hell of it). Two or three slices of cheese go over that, then the other meats, and that's it," reports Will Owen. And the roll is the best in the area: not artisanal bread, but the solid Italian American sesame-seeded deli bread, says Mr Taster.

The sandwich is utter bliss, says WildSwede. It's "fan-ta-stic! In fact, I gave my friend a small slice (that is all I was willing to give up!) and she just came and mouthed 'OH MY GOD!!'"

There's also a beautifully seasoned, fennel-less, porky wonder of a sausage, and strangely expensive ravioli in the frozen section. Said ravioli are spectacular, reports Mr Taster. "Even though they were frozen, the skins boiled up into a beautiful, pleasingly firm (though not really al dente) texture, and the ricotta used inside was of an extremely high grade—not even the slightest texture of graininess that you get from supermarket ricotta. This was just silky, satiny smooth on my tongue, well seasoned with herbs and garlic, and absolutely perfect with a freshly made marinara sauce and a glass of red table wine."

Roma Italian Deli [San Gabriel Valley]
918 N. Lake Avenue, Pasadena
626-797-7748

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