I searched the archives and not only is the last meatball sandwich post over two years old, it failed to mention what I think is one of the best in the L.A. area.
Now, before I mention the location of this wonderful sandwich, let me preface a bit...the parking sux, the service is less than stellar and the crowds are often out of control but if you're willing to deal with all of that, you will be treated to a fresh, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside roll, several (meatball in every bite!), homemade spiced and cooked just right meatballs, gooey, chewy melted cheese (not sure if it's provolone or mozzarella), all covered in a delicious sauce that your taste buds will confirm has simmered on the stove for several hours instead of just poured out of a jar.
This sandwich of the gods can be ordered with roasted peppers and onions, but my advice is to try it without the first time to fully appreciate the subtleties contained within. Where can this delectable treat be found? I'm glad you asked, it's none other than Casa Bianca, that's right, the Casa Bianca of pizza fame and infamy also makes a magnificent meatball sandwich that somehow gets overlooked in the pizza frenzy. The ONLY thing better at Casa B is the eggplant parmesean sandwich, but that's the subject of another post.
So there it is Chowhounds, my pick of the best meatball sandwich currently served. What's yours?
Casa Bianca Pizza Pie
1650 Colorado Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90041
I have no problem with Bay Cities (being a Westsider with Westside options.) The food is swell, and unless you're in a big hurry it's great to get your number and wander around looking at all the exotic olive oils, balsamic vinegars, tinned fish, middle-eastern foods, and of course the extensive cheese and olive bar. You can find some amazing things there (like the organic Sicilian marzipan.) And the food is really great, worth the wait I think.
Here's a tip - get an extra meatball sub and put it in the fridge. Next day (or so) take it out and slice it across into 3/4" rounds. Little meat circles surrounded by bread. What a snack!
Great topic ... one of my favorite foods. I order them without cheese, just sauce and bread and meatballs. Sometimes a little onion on top, but never covered in cheese.
The meatball sub I eat the most is at The Slice on Ocean Park in Santa Monica. I'm not sure it's the best or even close to it, but it's the most convenient due to its proximity to the baseball and football fields my kids practice on. The meatballs and anything sauced at The Slice are pretty spicy. I like 'em and my kid orders them, too. (The slice also does a buffalo chicken sub which is a chicken cutlet prepared in Buffalo wing sauce that is potentially pretty darn hot if your order it that way and pretty darn tasty. The lettuce and tomato and mayo contrast nicely with the spiciness of the chicken which is juicy and never dry ... a different topic, for sure, but worth mentioning IMO.)
My current favorite favorite is at Victor Jrs in Culver City. Really great tasting sandwich with excellent texture. Everything at Victor Jrs tastes homemade to me. The convenience factor works in the opposite for me because even though they are close to my home, they are out of my way after practice and they are closed on the weekend. So, the paradox of Victor Jrs is that I can only go there when I'm home from work, If they were open on the weekends, I'd be there every Sunday for sandwiches to eat while watching football. I have started to take V Jrs to the Hollywood Bowl on week nights.
Original Rinaldi's is very good. The issue here is that they make so many cool combination sandwiches (hot, cold and mixed) that ordering a meatball sub here is like ordering vanilla at 31 flavors. OTOH, sometimes simplicity is the best way to go. I have had the meatball sub at OR's and will vouch for it. Crowded at lunch, btw, with no parking lot -- though I've always managed to find a good spot on the street (which is a challenge, because I drive a full-sized truck, not a Mini Cooper.)
Bay Cities makes a good meatball sandwich. I just can't stand going there. The parking near this Santa Monica standby is atrocious. My truck won't fit in any of the spots in their lot and there is never any parking on the street nearby. Plus, I don't dig the vibe. I used to go there all the time when I lived around the corner, but ... well ... Bay Cities is a place that's so popular that I really get the feeling they could care less if any one particular customer comes back or not. People are rude, the cashiers are slow and distracted and have a they-are-doing-you-a-favor-by-taking-your-money attitude. As good as the food at Bay Cities is -- and their hot and cold sandwiches are no doubt very good -- I find the experience too stressful to enjoy. Sometimes, when the mood strikes, I hit them in their off hours and just try to get in and out. If anyone of you is going to Bay Cities and wants to pick something up for me, I'll treat for your sandwich.
Sorrento's -- I consider Sorrento's a good to very good place for cold cut sandwiches or turkey, that sort of thing. I thought their hot meatball sub was very, very ordinary. The meatballs are oddly small ... sort of the size of the frozen balls you can buy at Trader Joe's. As a result, the sandwich is more bready than meaty. The taste is okay, but I can make a better one at home. I do like Sorrento's, but not for the meatball sub.
As an aside, I think that meat ball subs should only be ordered at sandwich shops or Italian restaurants. I've ordered them in coffee shops and delis and family style restaurants and those are uniformly bad. They can be really bad at chain sub shops, too.
Paul, I agree with you about The Slice and Victor Jr's. When in that neighborhood on the weekends try both the pizza (much discussed here) and the sandwiches at The Coop. Their meatballs are very good, but their eggplant is exceptional - sometimes I order eggplant slices as a topping for pizza. Their bread leaves something to be desired, but all in all The Coop is delicious.
Is The Coop on National in the same area as that burrito place and the Vegan Joint?
It's on National somewhere, right?
I'll have to give it a try for the meatball sub, but I must confess, I'm a bit ambivalent about eggplant (if it is made the way I like it, I love it, if it's not, I hate it ... I like it thinly sliced and well done ... I don't like when the skin is left all thick and hard to chew) and I don't eat pizza because I don't eat cheese (I eat the soy pizza at Abbott Kinneys).
I'll let you know how I like the sandwich when I go and I'll give the eggplant a shot.
Tony's Deli in the strip mall on the corner of Alameda and Glenoaks in Burbank. Their eggplant parmesan sandwich is my personal favorite. The marinara sauce on all of their hot sandwiches is wonderful!! The Tony's Special Sub is amazing as well. I've been going to Tony's deli for 30 years and it has never disappointed.
How is the eggplant parmesan prepared at Tony's? I must admit that as much as I enjoy a good eggplant parmesan, the eggplant itself is basically just a vehicle for the egg mixture, fried breadcrumbs, sauce and cheese. I like a nice thin slice of eggplant well coated in breadcrumbs and fried crispy, the big thick chunks of uncoated eggplant doesn't do it for me, even the thinly sliced and grilled eggplant a'la Market City Cafe comes in a distant second to the breaded, fried variety.
The small version has a giant meatball inside of a good sized roll. When eating it the thought came to mind that without the Italian sauce and flavors this would be a great burger. As is it is a great meatball sandwich
Original Rinaldi's (Italian combo, Meatball sandwich, Hot Chicken sandwich, + more)
323 Main St.
El Segundo, CA 90245
From N. Sepulveda Blvd go West on E. Grand to Main St.
From W. Imperial Ave. Go South on Main
Right across from the Fire Department
If in the San Pedro area, automatically I get sucked into Busy Bee Market for their meatball and other hot sandwiches; Big Nicks also exhibits the same strong CH gravity field.
Much closer to home I can get a good one from Pizza Show or Georgio's. IIRC the latter's sandwiches are pressed almost like a panini.
Busy Bee Market
2413 S Walker Ave, San Pedro, CA 90731
Angelo's & Vinci's Restaurant
550 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, CA 92832
13344 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA 90250
Petrillo's Pizza Restaurant
833 E Valley Blvd, San Gabriel, CA 91776
2100 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026
4964 W 190th St, Torrance, CA 90503
Tony's Submarine Sandwiches
5544 W 119th St, Inglewood, CA 90304
Amelia's Espresso & Panini
2645 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405
Al Gelato Continental Desserts
806 S Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Big Nick's Pizza
1110 N Gaffey St Ste G, San Pedro, CA 90731
1138 W Gardena Blvd, Gardena, CA 90247
Scardino's Pizza To Go
1627 N Hacienda Blvd, La Puente, CA 91744
Guiliano's in Gardena (regular and crumbled meatball on narrow but long Italian rolls)
Scardino's in West Covina (for $4.50, will feed a family of 4 1/2!!)
and Woppo's in Fullerton (take-out window for Angelo's & Vinci's Restaurant)
Everyone in SoCal is close to one of these places.
I just had the one at Scardino's. It was very good. It is cash and carry out only, but they make a good meatball sandwich. They toast the bread so it gets just a little crispy on the outside, but not too long so the bread dries out. I would like to try their pizza. It looked pretty good too.
I love Al Gelato, but it is not a traditional meatball sandwich and I've seen a number of people surprised by it. The meatball sandwich is two giant meatballs (and I mean giant) served open face on a slice of Al Gelato's homemade, crusty bread with tomato basil sauce on top. The meatball is probably the best I've ever had and I love the sauce.
Without qualifying them, my top three in L.A., plus another from S.D. county, in no particular order:
As mentioned above, Casa Bianca, in addition to the below.
Bay Cities Italian Deli
1517 Lincoln Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401
202 E Imperial Ave, El Segundo, CA 90245
Borrelli's Pizza & Italian Food
285 N El Camino Real, Encinitas, CA 92024
I remember the old Hank's in Marina Del Rey which had the best Italian sandwiches to this day. Don't know if it's still there? My other favorite in the LAX area is Tony's on Aviation. Their meatball sandwiches are great with the melted mozzerella cheese dripping off the wrappings. My other choice would be their Italian sausage sandwich with green peppers and cheese.
Eastside Market Italian Deli just west of Chinatown has pretty good meatballs in their sandwiches.
I, however, prefer the DA Special - a meatball, an italian sausage link, pastrami, and roast beef with tomato sauce and peppers all in one sandwich.
1013 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012