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Looking for Italian sub in SF, specific requirements

Every once in a while, I get a craving for a specific type of sandwich that I haven't been able to find since moving out here from the east coast. Of course, I've had lots of great sandwiches here -- but my craving will only be satisfied by some very specific requirements:

First of all, I'm looking for the classic mixed Italian sub, typically found at any deli in NY, NJ, etc. Nothing gourmet or fancy (I like those sandwiches too, but again, looking to satisfy very specific craving), several different meats, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onions, maybe hot peppers and olives and most importantly -- *oil and vinegar*. All on good crusty Italian bread (not sourdough, or dutch crunch, or foccacia, or anything else. Again, I love those breads too, but not for this specific sandwich). Meats should be Boar's Head or something similar quality.

No mayo or mustard, or garlic spread, or hot sauce, or anything else. I keep trying a lot of deli recommendations, and they want to put mustard and mayo on my sandwich, and don't know what I'm talking about when I ask for oil and vinegar.

The ideal place for me would be one where I walk in, ask for a mixed Italian sandwich, and all the above requirements are met by default.

Can anyone help out? I live in SF, work in South SF, so anything in the city, or even the peninsula would be fine.

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  1. I don't know if you will be able to get exactly what you are looking for at the Little Lucca deli (on El Camino Real in Millbrae/South SF), but I would definitely put it on the list of SF Bay Area sandwich shops to try. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

    By the way, living in the SF Bay Area, you will have a hard time finding NY-style pizza, pastrami or bagels as well. Get over it!

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavidT

      Thanks, I will try Little Lucca, but have already tried Roy's Deli and Darby Dan's, and Little Lucca sounds similar?

      Also, I am definitely not complaining about the food here -- since moving out, I've discovered so many new things food-wise that I will never be able to do without (good Mexican food, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, etc, etc, etc,)

      But for some reason, the sandwich craving remains. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion.

    2. I'm from NJ originally and feel your pain. Gambino's at Embarcadero One in SF does a decent sub - oil and vinegar, but no hot cherry peppers! I usually get their salami & provolone. They also do a good sausage & pepper sub.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Concetta

        I thought Gambino's offered hot cherry peppers? They're menu refers to "hots" being available at no extra charge. Maybe they're not the right peppers, though.

      2. Palermo Delicatessen in North Beach does a pretty good job for a Italian Sub.

        Nothing like-
        If you are ever in Santa Barbara a Tino's Italian Grocery is a must get sub- my dad use to take me there when it was on Olive street in a little house in the late 60's, then I went there all through high school order the Super Deluxe, they have the most amazing olive oil and vinegar dressing ever!!
        415 E. De la Guerra St

        1. I'm on a similar search, with no really fantastic results to report. However, I have been known to make do with an italian combo at Genova's Deli in Oakland (on Telegraph at 51st). I have them hold the mustard/mayo, and do oil and vinegar. They use balsamic vinegar, however, which does change the flavor. They have a wide assortment of breads to choose from, none of which is *exactly* right, but at least you can make your own selection.

          Other places I've tried: The sub shop in West Portal in SF, Lucca's on Valencia St. in SF, Ratto's in Oakland (not in a long time though, as they don't have much selection anymore), and recently, East West Deli on Polk Street. East West's sub description sounded just right, using all the words that would push my buttons, but the reality didn't match the prose.

          1 Reply
          1. re: jillyju

            I had similar impression of East West, which I tried a few times when I used to live in that nbhd. Somehow, it always came close, but never quite hit my expectations. I still think it's a great place though, albeit a bit pricey for what is essentially deli food.

          2. Since you live in SF, at least try Andiamo deli on Elizabeth and Diamond in Noe Valley. The guys who run it are both from NYC and you can "train" them to make the sandwich the way you like it. I always have to remind them to NOT put mustard on my sandwich (always the Italian combo by the way). Other than that, the end result is quite good. Great bread, great meats, I'm pretty sure you can even ask for the peppers. Once they know you you can just say my (Plambert's) usual sub and they'll know, but always follow with "no mustard" darnit !!! Maybe they will already know if you say "Jersey-style."

            1 Reply
            1. re: NoeMan

              This sounds perfect, especially since I live in Noe Valley. Will definitely be hitting this soon. Thanks for the suggestion.