Friday, August 27, 2010

Is Mario's The East Side Bay Cities? No.

Like pop stars, Yelpers adore labeling restaurants the "new ______," or the "better ____," or the "cooler _____." These sort of comparisons immediately evoke familiarity, but rarely are they accurate. A prime example is Mario's Italian Deli in Glendale, widely known as "The Eastside's Bay Cities." Up and down the deli's Yelp page are "Bay Cities" this and "Bay Cities" that. And while Mario's certainly doesn't suck, it certainly isn't Bay Cities either.

My first impression upon strolling in: this place has seen better days. Now, many would argue the rundown look of the place plays into its charm, but there are certainly varying degrees of unkemptness. I love hole-in-the-wall enchantment as much as the next guy (like, say Papa Cristo's), but deserted back aisles that look like they haven't been dusted/visited in months? Not so appealing when you're about to order your lunch.

First impressions aside, ala Bay Cities, they jam a lot of Italian goodness in a moderately-sized space. The menu is expansive offering everything from cold cuts to fancy "spicy sandwiches." They are known for their two-layer sandwich philosophy. That is, they cut the Italian bread into THREE, so every sandwich has a Club feel. I see this as more of a gimmick than anything and upon taste of a Boars Head (like Bay Cities!) turkey sandwich the middle bread layer remains completely unnecessary.

The sandwich as a whole is slightly above average. The Italian bread, while fresh and more traditional than Bay Cities, reminds me of something my crazy aunt used to make with her Sunbeam. Sandwiches are all about the bread, and the Mario's bread simply lacks transcendency. Also, unless requested otherwise, their sandwiches come with plain yellow mustard, which, we all know, is a fucking joke in 2010. All good delis should be using better mustards at this point. There are like a thousand available now. The peppery Italian dressing, lettuce and ripe tomatoes were nice though. And the mozzarella cheese was solid, too.

Overall, the sandwich could have come from Ralph's. And I think I mean that statement more as a complimentary mark toward the local grocery chain and less a derogatory swipe at Mario's. Bay Cities, Mario's and Ralph's all serve the same Boar's Head meat, so the only things that can really differentiate them are the the sandwich's other elements. And the Mario's sandwich simply cannot boast much.

The same can be said for the other items on the menu I've sampled. The meatballs are solid, but no reason to drive all the way out to Glendale. And the chicken parmesan, while a good economic deal (you get a ginormous portion), is a little dry and too gamey.

I'm not saying if you find your stomach talking to you in the greater Glendale area to stay away from Mario's. Hell, maybe I ordered wrong (as I'm sure many Mario's stalwarts will argue). However, at a top-notch sandwich spot even the boring turkey sandwich should blow you away. So, like all those zealous Yelpers, I will compare Mario's to Bay Cities... "Mario's is not Bay Cities."


  1. Now THATS what I call a good lookin sandwich. Great read too. Keri

  2. Hello Mike,
    This post is very nice. I love to eat sandwich. It is very delicious to look at. Thank you for sharing the ingredients and recipe. Hope your next recipe will published soon.