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Jun 4, 2002 12:23 AM

Best Italian Sandwiches in SF?

  • s

We’ve discussed Vietnamese sandwiches (Bahn Mi). Mexican sandwiches (Tortas), and US sandwiches (Hamburgers). What are your favorite Italian Sandwiches…subs, grinders, hoagies (did I miss any?).

Saturday I stopped by Freddies Sandwiches. 300 Francisco Street at Stockton. I’ve passed this place a million times and it always looked liked the real deal, a good old fashioned sandwich shop. I wasn’t disappointed.

I chose the Italian Combo with dry Salame, Ham, Salame Cotto, pressed Ham, Provolone on onion bread. The bread was studded with pieces of green onion. A nice restrained mix of mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. I ordered a small for $3.75. This was a six dollar sandwich elsewhere. I saved half for dinner.

Freddies has been making sandwiches since 1926. Very little seems to have changed. A few years ago new owners bought the place but they vowed to make no changes. The same bakery makes the long 26 inch bread stacked on top of the counter. The big innovation was adding Dutch Crunch bread to the line. Very Linguira Bakery look. Wooden shelves hold canned goods. If a movie company needed to shoot a 1920 grocery in SF, all they would have to do is remove the soft drink coolers. Salamis hang from the ceiling.

Additions to the sandwiches include hot pepper, mild pepper, garlic and oil and vinegar.

For a hot sandwich, my favorite is in the West Portal area - Submarine Center Gourmet Sandwiches on Ulloa. I love the meatball and provolone nicely toasted in the oven. The roll has the right amount of toasty crunch, the filling spicy and not overstuffed. Really nice sandwich. The mini size is $4.29 with tax.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a sandwich at Molinari. The best I can say is that I remember it was good, if costly.

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  1. Say more about bahn mi, Vietnamese Sandwiches. I missed the discussion

    4 Replies
    1. re: Greg
      Melanie Wong

      Greg, we gotta get you hooked up with a subscription to ChowNews! Think of all the great stuff you're missing when you're away. We've had new banh mi finds reported all over the Bay in several issues. You can subscribe today (do it now!) at the link below and help support Chowhound.

      P.S. Great report on the International board about your Tuscan adventure. Thanks!


      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I don't know about the best Italian Sandwiches in SF, but the best Italian Sandwiches of the Bay has to be GENOVA'S DELI, off Telegraph & 42nd (?) Believe the HYPE on this place...

        1. re: Chris
          Melanie Wong

          You're preaching to the choir on this one, Chris!

          Coincidentally, I was in Oakland today and we headed over to Genova to pick up sandwiches for lunch. The place was mobbed at 1:30pm. I had a very hard time choosing - the cold cuts looked great, hard for me to resist real Italian mortadella or the sorta hard to find zampino. The list of specialty sandwiches on the blackboard on the back wall also looked tempting - two of us went for the #4 (prosciutto, fresh basil and fresh mozz) and were very happy. I finally settled on the hot meatball sandwich on a seeded roll for less than $6. This was filled with a whole buncha small tender meatballs and a slice of melted provolone then smothered with a pile of sauteed onions and red/green peppers. Messy to eat, but oh so good, devoured outside in my friend's backyard on a sunny day. The Stewarts orange cream soda was nice too.


          1. re: Chris

            I respectfully disagree. I'd heard a lot about Genova and was excited to try one of their sandwiches when I visited for the first time a few months ago. I had one of their special combinations--I forget which, but it had prosciutto, mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar in it for sure. It wasn't *bad*, but it paled in comparison to any of the sandwiches I've had at Molinari Deli in SF's North Beach. If I recall correctly, the prosciutto at Genova was all pre-sliced--not a horrific offense in and of itself, but it was sliced way too thick. I know that sounds snobby, but prosciutto isn't like a regular cold cut--it's gotta be cut thin! Otherwise the texture is all off, and it makes it hard to take neat bites.

            I'm sure I'll be back sometime to give Genova another try, but to my mind Molinari is clearly the superior institution. Renzo's special...mmm...


      2. m
        Melanie Wong

        Stanley, I think you've finally put a name and real addrss to the mystery sandwich shop that Steven identified in the old thread linked below. Thank you - sounds like a real find!

        For a hot sandwich, I've gotta go with Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store on Union & Columbus for the eggplant sandwich on Liguria focaccia, although it's been a couple years since I've indulged.


        3 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Stanley Stephan

          Thanks Melanie. After finding Freddies I did a goggle search to see if the topic was discussed. Must have spelled one of the keywords wrong.

          1. re: Stanley Stephan
            Melanie Wong

            Stanley, please don't feel that I was criticizing you by adding the link. Far from it. With all the growth on the board, every time a topic comes up again, there's bound to be new input and new finds discovered. This is a good thing. Also, places change and we need to get fresh updates. I would hope that 'hounds would take a look at some of the previous places recommended and let us know if they're still good as well to expand this discussion. My intent is to broaden the discussion by giving it a foundation, not to cut it off.

            1. re: Melanie Wong
              Stanley Stephan

              Really, no critisism taken. I really like the link. I was trying to find something like that when I was doing the search in google. I'm enjoyed reading through it Torpedos...I knew there was yet another name.

              Yes, that is the place Stephen mentioned. The hours, as he mentioned are a little odd. M-F 8:30 - 4. Saturday 8:30 - 3.

              Chowhound has elevated my level of eating. I don't think I've had fast food for weeks. I'm more likely to stop at a Freddies when I was more likely to pass it by. I'm getting to be quite the expert in Vietnamese food.

              One place not mentioned in the sub link, although it is not an Italian place is Townsend Market next door to the temporary quarters for Slanted Door. They make some really nice sandwiches. My favorite it fresh roasted chicken breast on a seeded roll with cranberry sauce. It's a great place to stop and pick up sandwiches if you are on the way to the ballpark.

              They also have fresh roasted turkey...real turkey...and a good selection of cold salads.

        2. When I went to Francisco Jr. High back in the 60's we all used to get huge sandwiches from Freddie's - great crusty bread and our choice of cold cuts - I can't remember much in the way of extras. we never got lettuce, peppers, onion, tomato or such......Freddie was a character - wielded a mean knife.

          1 Reply
          1. re: gordon wing
            Ciaohound (Bob Savelli)

            I remember Freddie's being on like Filbert & Gough or somewhere in the Marina.

            My Dad used to getcold cuts, french bread (softer type) and these disgusting hard biscuit-like rolls.

            He would put these hard biscuits on the bottom of our soup bowls and the minestrone would soften them up beautifully. Pasta fagiool and all that.

            Great cheeses, salami, mortadella, coppa, etc. too. and of course the french bread sandwiches. He's not there any longer.

          2. c
            Ciaohound (Bob Savelli)

            I like good Italian Deli sandwiches personally.

            Guerra's, Molinari's, Lucca's they're all good.

            Hot Coppa, Prosciutto, mortadella, salame, provolone, peppers, tomatoes on a good roll. It's all good, I don't think there can be a "best".

            My Dad used to put those type of meats on a whole loaf of French Bread covered with all of the extras, cut it in half and we'd share what he called a DAGWOOD sandwich.

            1. Aaaah, you're bringing back memories. I lived in three different addresses in North Beach during the 60's, and frequently stopped on Francisco for the city's cheapest good-as-it-gets sandwich.

              Glad to hear the place is still there and keeping the old standard. There've been too many places we loved disappearing or committing culinary hari kari.