Esquire admits that its feature on the Best Sandwiches in America is incomplete. We will help fill at least one gap.
The only real downside to Bay Cities Italian Deli in Santa Monica is that the parking lot during lunchtime is the automotive equivalent of a steel-cage death match. Even that hassle is not enough to dissuade devotees of scrumptious sandwiches from packing the place like a pope’s Mass.
You can reduce your waiting time inside the deli by ordering online or via fax. The deli has a separate area for such pickup orders. If you choose to make an in-store order and wait for your number to be called, be prepared for your hunger to explode exponentially. You’re surrounded by such tempting sights and smells — and other people getting their food ahead of you — that it almost seems unfair. But it is worth the wait.
The menu is extensive, but we have our favorites. Jenny usually chooses the Godmother, a combination of Genoa salami, mortadella, coppacola, ham, prosciutto and Provolone that she tops with Dijon mustard, peppers, lettuce, tomato, olive oil and vinegar. My standard pick is the meatball sandwich with tomato sauce, onions and sliced red bell peppers. But if it’s a Tuesday, I will often opt for the daily special of the sausage and peppers hoagie that looks like it came off the set of “The Sopranos.” Their rolls are excellent. The crust has that nice crunch, but the rest is soft, fresh and tasty.
If you do decide to order online — and this is our recommendation — be careful which buttons you press. We once ended up with two Godmothers instead of one, but I hesitate to call this a mistake because it simply extended a pleasurable meal. In fact, I wonder if Jenny will order two instead of one accidentally on purpose from now on. — Victor
Bay Cities Italian Deli; 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, Calif., 90401. 310-395-8279. Closed Mondays.