For chicken sandwich aficionados (see: crazed fantatics) like myself, it all begins and ends with the Chicken Pesto. If a sandwich shop serves an exemplary Chicken Pesto you know the place is legit. It's the Margherita pizza/ plain Cheeseburger barometer of the sliced bread set. So many places shamelessly -- in LA in particular -- lack pride in their Chicken Pesto. Usually you get dry chicken, maybe a veggie or two and a slathering of store bought pesto. Sure, there are solid exceptions, like the P.C. sandies at Soda Pops and Malibu Kitchen, but I am forever on a Carmen San Diego-esque search for the next great Chicken Pesto. Thus, concurrently, the next great LA deli.
Truth: even after my initial visit, I STILL don't know exactly where Del Rey Deli Co. is located. I think it was near Dockweiler, so future sandwich and sand soirees seemed likely. It was on a Playa Del Rey street and region I had never been. My Google Maps app on my iPhone didn't even know where it was at first. Only after multiple u-turns and the use of my real eyes rather than technology did I locate it in a tiny shopping center off a street that may or not exist.
It truly is a hidden gem.
Location aside though, I have GREAT NEWS: Del Rey Deli Co. serves a fantastic Chicken Pesto. I mean, one of the city's best for sure. Proof in point that Del Rey Deli cares about their Chicken Pesto: they sous-vide the chicken breast. Yes, sous-vide. A cooking technique much more commonly found in fine dining kitchens and on "Top Chef" episodes because it ensures a much more even (not dry) cooking process. It takes a very long time though because the meat cooks at a much lower than normal temperature. I don't know this as fact, but I'm pretty sure most bantam sandwich shops in local beach enclaves are not sous-viding the chicken for their Roasted Pesto Chicken. And the proof is in the pudding: DRD's chicken is perfectly cooked (and well-marinated in a housemade garlic rosemary oil).
So, they take this better than normal deli chicken and add some thin mozzarella slices, some greenery and then a copious amount of their kitchen made lemony pesto. While most delis would stop there, Del Rey Deli Co. takes one additional step, which transcends the sandwich: they add a thin coat of their spicy pepper spread. All this in between a soft, chewy, yet substantial Ca d'Oro ciabatta roll. Wowzers.
That's just one of over a dozen sandwiches on the menu. It's not even on their signature pretzel roll either. And everything is good on a good pretzel roll. Everybody knows that. Even your grandma. DRD also offers all sandwiches as salads (in addition to a few salad menu selections), do weekend brunch and feature a daily Sandwich Special. Heck, LOOK AT TODAY'S SPECIAL. I want it. Now.
Guess I'm going to have to figure out how to get back there.
8501 Pershing Drive, Ste #3, Playa Del Rey
Mon-Fri, 11-8; Sat-Sun, 8-6