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Meatball Sandwich Hunt

l
lmarie Feb 25, 2008 07:34 AM

For the last few months I've had a craving for a meatball sandwich with marinara. So I've sampled several, and I list my rankings below. Are there other places in SF that 'Hounds recommend?

1. The Gold Standard: Pasta Gina on Diamond near 24th. Wonderfully seasoned, huge meatballs, perfect texture, cut in half on an Acme roll. The marinara is thick and deeply flavorful. Mozzerella is the highest quality. With tax it's a bit over $9, and you have to sit outside on a bench, but this is one of the best sandwiches I've ever had, bar none.

2. Morty's Deli, in the Tenderloin. Also obviously homemade meatballs, with hints of fennel and oregano. Good, substantial roll (MAY have been sourdough), marinara tasty, cheese unremarkable.

3. Mastrelli's Deli in SF Ferry Building. Also homemade meatballs, but spicing not as delicious as Pasta Gina or Morty's. Marinara tasty. Choice of rolls. On the clerk's recommendation, I got the ciabatta roll. Mastrelli's puts the sandwich in a press, which I don't care for - and the roll dissolved before I was done with the sandwich. I don't remember the cheese.

4. Marina Submarine on Union St. I'm pretty sure these are factory meatballs. "Homemade" marinara is unremarkable. Cheap roll that disintegrates after the first bite.

5. Subway. The meatball is the sandwich of the day on Tuesdays, when it's only $2.99. Cheap bread, toasted, factory meatballs, but not bad at all for the price.

On my list to try:
Birley's
Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store
Pomodoro
Mozzarella de Buffula
Giorgio's Pizzeria.

Any other suggestions/favorites?

  1. pane Feb 25, 2008 07:53 AM

    On nasty rainy days, I crave meatball sandwiches as well. There was a place I liked on Union Street in Cow Hollow--a little Italian deli that was only open weekdays during regular business hours, so I only visited a few times when I was home sick.

    I think it is Corsagna's?

    -----
    Corsagna
    1668 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123

    1. d
      DavidT Feb 25, 2008 07:54 AM

      Try Bigfoot Subs on the east side of Divisadero, north of Haight (I think). Also try Gambino's, on the street level of One Embarcadero Center.

      3 Replies
      1. re: DavidT
        c
        Concetta Feb 25, 2008 08:38 AM

        I second Gambino's. Haven't tried their meatball sub, but the sausage & pepper sub just like I remember from childhood in NJ/NY Metro area

        -----
        Gambino's New York Subs
        301 Clay St, San Francisco, CA 94111

        1. re: Concetta
          ChowFun_derek Feb 25, 2008 09:56 AM

          Gambino's is where I go (although now I must try Pasta Gina)
          I always ask for extra sauce, and they are happy to accomodate.

        2. re: DavidT
          d
          DavidT Feb 25, 2008 04:54 PM

          As noted below by Gordon Wing, I believe it is King Foot (not Bigfoot) Subs, on Divisadero, near Haight.

        3. n
          Nancy Berry Feb 25, 2008 09:54 AM

          I like the meatball sandwich at Amici's (I've only had the sandwich at the King St. branch near the ballpark.) The only problem here is that they stop serving it at 3:00 pm every day. I wish that they'd put it on their dinner menu. It's very delicious.

          I also like the take-out only meatball sandwich at Roxie's on San Jose Ave. (I think that they also serve it at their branch on Kirkham in the Inner Sunset.

          -----
          Roxie Food Center
          1901 San Jose Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

          Amici's East Coast Pizzeria
          216 King St, San Francisco, CA 94107

          Amici's East Coast Pizzeria
          2200 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123

          Roxie's Market & Deli
          500 Kirkham St, San Francisco, CA

          1. h
            HungryGrayCat Feb 25, 2008 11:24 AM

            I used to be a fan of the meatball sandwich at the old US Restaurant. I haven't been since it moved and now I hear the restaurant has been sold. It was a great sandwich back in the day....maybe worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood.

            1. g
              gordon wing Feb 25, 2008 11:38 AM

              It's been awhile since I've been there but I used to enjoy the meatball sub at King Foot Subs - 258 Divisadero Ave. SF ( near Haight ) Couldn't find any old posts on Chowhound but did come up with some others.....
              http://www.yelp.com/biz/king-foot-sub...

              1 Reply
              1. re: gordon wing
                m
                mc2 Feb 25, 2008 06:40 PM

                The meatball sub is as good as ever at Kingfoot. I have it about twice a month.

              2. l
                lmarie Feb 25, 2008 02:10 PM

                Went to Gambino's today for a meatball sub. Nowhere near as good as Pasta Gina, Morty's or Mastrelli's. Factory meatballs with no particular seasoning except lots of salt. Marinara is fairly good though, and they are generous with it. The worst part was the cheap factory roll, which instantly turned into a sopping pad of marinara-flavored cotton.

                4 Replies
                1. re: lmarie
                  ChowFun_derek Feb 26, 2008 07:03 AM

                  I went to Pasta Gina's yesterday..at 11:30 they were out of rolls so they couldn't make me a sandwich!!!....so I bought just the meatballs, but haven't tried them yet...since I was in the neighborhood I went to the new sub shop on Castro and 24th where the ice cream place used to be...they had a meatball sandwich but no mozzarella, only other cheeses...they do make a vegetarian sandwich with buffalo mozzarella, but even with me saying I would pay the difference, he would not make my sandwich with it....the meatballs were good, the sauce was good but on the sweet side, I like a more tangy marinara....on my way back to the car after downing this sandwich...I spied Andiamo a deli about a block from Pasta Gina...and being the sick Chowhound that I am ..I ordered a sandwich there...I could only down a bite or two in the car...meatballs seemed okay...sauce had no personality...I gave the rest of the meatballs to Maya my real Chowhound (see photo)....she thought it was the best meatball sandwich she ever had...maybe because it was the ONLY meatball sandwich she ever had!

                  1. re: ChowFun_derek
                    ChowFun_derek Feb 27, 2008 06:37 AM

                    follow up on Pasta Gina's meatballs...
                    Imarie was spot on...these meatballs have character....I'm glad they were out of rolls when I went, so I got to taste the balls and sauce straight......balls..terrific texture with herbage...basil and or parsley....superior tomato sauce, thick and flavorful.....Pasta Gina ...definitely a place I will return to.....
                    They fill canolli's fresh there, but they are not cheap....a little too powdery (from powdered sugar in the mixture) but with good guality chips, and of course a crisp shell.....

                    re: My Chowhound Maya and her experience with Andiamos' meatballs....she wolfed them down with obvious pleasure...(I thought they were ordinary...but different animals...different tastes)....HOWEVER she had diarrhea all the next day...a cautionary "tale"....perhaps..
                    As to Pasta Ginas' meatballs...she ain't getten none..they're ALL mine!

                    1. re: ChowFun_derek
                      rworange Feb 27, 2008 10:41 AM

                      link

                      -----
                      Pasta Gina
                      741 Diamond St, San Francisco, CA 94114

                      1. re: rworange
                        s
                        stanbee Jul 1, 2010 11:44 PM

                        Yo, Gina's from Sout' Filly. Wudjuh expect? Try her lasagna too!

                2. r
                  robertwells Feb 25, 2008 02:44 PM

                  CHOW in Lafayette!

                  bob

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: robertwells
                    o
                    Oakland Barb Feb 25, 2008 03:31 PM

                    Genova on 51st ST and Telegraph in Oakland.

                    1. re: Oakland Barb
                      s
                      shawliza Jul 28, 2011 03:34 PM

                      Just had Genova's meatball sub yesterday. Excellent meatballs, juicy and flavorful, just enough slightly chunky sauce, and the best part is they put roasted peppers and onions on the sub too. The bread (sweet, fresh roll) is from Maggiora, and complements the meatballs nicely- just enough structure, but soft enough to sop up juices and not shoot meatballs out the sides when you take a bite.

                      Recent other meatball subs included Molinari, which was possibly the worst I've ever had. The bread was really tough, the meatball (large, sliced) was dry and tasteless and the sauce lacked character. Subs, Inc, on 24th does a decent job, and they're super friendly to boot.

                    2. re: robertwells
                      Frosty Melon Feb 27, 2008 11:00 AM

                      Yep, the meatball sandwich at Chow, at least in SF, is terrific, but it's the Sunday special sandwich only and not on the regular menu.

                      1. re: Frosty Melon
                        s
                        SteveG Feb 27, 2008 11:32 AM

                        I'm not a meatball sandwich connoisseur, but the version at Chow is definitely good enough I'd say it should be on lmarie's list to try well ahead of Pomodoro... house made meatballs, pretty good roll (not factory wonderbread that dissolves!) , melted mozzarella, plenty of sauce.

                        1. re: SteveG
                          ChowFun_derek Feb 27, 2008 02:39 PM

                          Granted it has been a number of years ago that I ordered the meatball sandwich at Chow (it really is my 'go to place' (a little like my local upscale diner)...but I found the meatballs then to be almost "powdery" in their consistency ..if that is a description that resonates with anyone....dry and powdery...! Other stuff are great...burger, salads, chicken, shortribs etc....perhaps I should try them again....

                        2. re: Frosty Melon
                          o
                          ola Jul 25, 2008 10:37 AM

                          Saturday and Sunday sandwiches (BLT and meatball) are available every day of the week. Just ask for them.

                          1. re: ola
                            m
                            Meredith Jul 2, 2010 01:27 PM

                            I was at Chow a week ago Monday and asked if there was any chance of getting a meatball sandwich. Our waiter thought it would be fine and went to the kitchen to ask, but got denied. I was so sad - I miss their daily sandwich menu, the BLT is nowhere to be found either. Those were my two favorite items from Chow.

                            1. re: Meredith
                              ChowFun_derek Jul 2, 2010 04:56 PM

                              Yes, I am not at all happy with their new "reduced" menu......not my "go to diner" anymore...pity!

                              1. re: Meredith
                                o
                                ola Jul 2, 2010 06:10 PM

                                Maybe the Lafayette Chow is different but I had the BLT (off the menu) for lunch on Monday and the meatball today though both are considered weekend sandwiches.

                                1. re: ola
                                  s
                                  sydthekyd Jul 2, 2010 07:33 PM

                                  I guess their sandwiches are good?

                                2. re: Meredith
                                  s
                                  SteveG Jul 6, 2010 01:29 PM

                                  I was at Chow about a week ago, and our waiter said they were bringing back the daily special sandwiches, starting out as normal specials. Don't give up hope ;-)

                                  1. re: SteveG
                                    m
                                    Meredith Jul 6, 2010 01:33 PM

                                    Thanks so much for the update! That will definitely get me back in there.

                          2. a
                            adamshoe Feb 25, 2008 04:02 PM

                            Bucci's in Emeryville makes a darned respectable meatball sammich, or at least it was good the last time I was there. (2 plus yrs ago...). Have to disagree about Chow, though. Thought their meatballs were a tad rubbery and meat had a funny "Alpo" like quality. Yes, I have eaten Alpo....in College......on a dare.....too many shots...

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: adamshoe
                              Mission Jan 28, 2011 08:33 AM

                              Rotton city pizza makes a nice MEATBALL PARMIGIANO SUB - $8.95

                            2. k
                              katya Feb 25, 2008 05:54 PM

                              I love the meatballs served with the spaghetti at Mary's Pizza Shack in Walnut Creek (other North Bay locations, too). Someone on this board raved about their meatball sandwich. Their meatballs have sausage in them and they're super tasty.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: katya
                                ambercontegssa Feb 26, 2008 08:18 PM

                                Open faced turkey meatball sandwich at Bovolo in Healdsburg. The best ever, each detail from scratch.

                              2. d
                                Donna566 Feb 26, 2008 11:38 PM

                                Dino's on Fillmore and California is pretty good.

                                1. r
                                  RussG Mar 21, 2008 09:58 PM

                                  Anyone know what happened to the recipe from Herb's Deli on Taraval? They made the best meatball sandwiches and only sold them on Thursdays. I even planned days off of work so I could get a sandwich! They closed around 2001 and had a sign in their window that they were going to either sell the recipe to another deli/restaurant or sell copies to individuals. I signed up twice but never heard a thing. I would love to have that recipe!

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RussG
                                    e
                                    elm3c Jul 30, 2008 11:43 PM

                                    Herb's definitely had a great meatball sandwich! Used to go there in the 80's. Funny, Herb's was the first place to pop into mind when I saw the title on the thread.

                                  2. c
                                    cheesecakeking Apr 11, 2008 03:21 PM

                                    Amici's does a very good meatball sandwich, not available after 3 pm. Lots of cheese and just enough sauce. Because the bread is toasted, it's easier to eat if you cut the meatballs in half.

                                    1. m
                                      mdg Jul 20, 2008 06:23 PM

                                      I have been looking for a good meatball sub in the Silicon Valley area, and finally have one worth reporting to Chowhound. A Slice of New York is best known for its pizza, but this time I tried the meatball sub and it is the best I've had out here, and one of the best I have had anywhere.

                                      Meatballs, marinara, and cheese are layered into the delicious bread and toasted in a real pizza oven for a few minutes. The bread by itself would be a star; the combination of the four flavors was just magnificent.

                                      This takeout-oriented place has only four seats inside, but with the nice summer weather there are some tables outside that practically triple the seating capacity. So it is good news that they have been successful enough for the owner to be looking to add a second, larger location.

                                      Michael

                                      -----
                                      A Slice of New York
                                      3443 Stevens Creek Blvd, San Jose, CA 95117

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: mdg
                                        m
                                        mdg Jan 23, 2011 04:36 PM

                                        I've now had the meatball parm at A Slice of New York's new Sunnyvale location, and this is now officially a destination place for meatball subs! Call them ahead of time because if they need to bake the bread it's a 20-minute wait. The combination of the fresh-baked bread, the marvelous meatballs, and excellent sauce and cheese still can't be beat. I've never had better.

                                        And now the place is big enough that you can sit down and eat regardless of weather!

                                        Michael

                                        -----
                                        A Slice of New York
                                        1253 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

                                        1. re: mdg
                                          s
                                          shawliza Jul 28, 2011 03:39 PM

                                          Curious about the bread that everyone raves about, I called this place and asked. They said they use the same recipe they use for the pizza dough and bake it themselves. Interesting.

                                      2. s
                                        sfhound Jul 21, 2008 11:04 AM

                                        If there is a better meatball sandwich in SF than at Emmy's Spaghetti Shack, I haven't tasted it.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: sfhound
                                          ChowFun_derek Jul 21, 2008 01:11 PM

                                          do you know whether Emmy's is open for lunch?

                                          1. re: ChowFun_derek
                                            wolfe Jul 21, 2008 02:16 PM

                                            SF menu pages.
                                            Hours
                                            Sun-Thu: 5:30pm-11pm
                                            Fri-Sat: 5:30pm-12am

                                            Interesting there seems to be 2 different place sites in terms of history.
                                            http://www.chow.com/places/2418
                                            http://www.chow.com/places/34174

                                            -----
                                            Emmy's Spaghetti Shack
                                            18 Virginia Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

                                            1. re: wolfe
                                              ChowFun_derek Jul 22, 2008 12:17 AM

                                              hmmm? a sandwich for dinner??
                                              I prefer a Hero for lunch...Pasta Gina in Noe Valley has become my favorite! thanks for the info though!

                                        2. chaddict Jul 24, 2008 09:07 AM

                                          Mmmm, Angelina's on 22nd and California. Apparently a catering company with a small storefront cafe. Nice, toasty sub roll that stays crisp on the outside, soaking up the marinara (not sweet, yay!) on the inside. Melted, gooey mozzarella and peperoncini. Meatballs have a very finely ground texture, house-made. My friend's slow-roasted pork sandwich with ham, melted cheese, and sliced dill pickles may have been even better. Something like $6.95? Very good...

                                          http://www.angelinascatering.com/

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: chaddict
                                            rworange Jul 24, 2008 02:53 PM

                                            You have a knack for finding sandwiches in little-mentioned places.

                                            -----
                                            Angelina's Catering & Deli-Café
                                            6000 California St, San Francisco, CA

                                            1. re: rworange
                                              chaddict Jul 24, 2008 03:16 PM

                                              I'm telling you, their sandwiches looked gooood. They also had 2 sandwiches featuring Boccalone meats. And while not listed on the board, I'm willing to bet they would make a meatloaf sandwich if requested as they do serve it alone (someone had a chicken Parmesan sandwich even though that wasn't listed either).

                                              1. re: rworange
                                                Xiao Yang Jul 31, 2008 08:19 AM

                                                Maybe little-mentioned, but they've been around for 25 years according to the website. Some people must have noticed them.

                                              2. re: chaddict
                                                Melanie Wong Jul 24, 2008 04:39 PM

                                                Ooh, your friend's sandwich sounds like a Cubano, yes?

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong
                                                  chaddict Jul 24, 2008 04:52 PM

                                                  well, they didn't call it a Cubano and I, myself, have never had a real Cubano. But come to think of it, I guess you could say that...

                                                  I'm telling you, it was tasty. Perfectly toasted bun, good roast pork with bits of fat, thinly sliced ham (but he is saying he doesn't remember the ham), melted cheese (I don't remember the exact type), and long, sliced pickles. Darn! Now *I* am craving one!

                                                  They also serve wine and beer which seemed odd for such a little corner cafe/ deli. Try it! I think you'll like it.

                                                2. re: chaddict
                                                  chaddict Jul 31, 2008 05:30 PM

                                                  I should clarify: it's provolone, not mozzarella.

                                                  You can skip Village Pizzeria on Clement, yuck!

                                                3. Dave MP Jul 24, 2008 03:46 PM

                                                  I had a meatball sandwich today from Mr. Pickles at 20th St and South Van Ness. Overall, not that good. The meatballs were okay, sauce was too sweet and too seasoned......I had the sourdough roll which I somewhat regretted - the sourdough flavor didn't mesh well with the pasta sauce. I think a regular Italian roll would have been better.

                                                  -----
                                                  Mr Pickles Sandwich Shop
                                                  3380 20th St, San Francisco, CA

                                                  1. a
                                                    arste Jul 25, 2008 12:54 AM

                                                    Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store
                                                    566 Columbus Ave
                                                    Sounds weird but try this little gems focaccia meatball sandwich..

                                                     
                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: arste
                                                      m
                                                      Mick Ruthven Jul 25, 2008 09:29 AM

                                                      Mario's has been a fixture in North Beach for a long time. Thanks for reminding me of it.

                                                      1. re: arste
                                                        h
                                                        hellatacos Jan 24, 2011 10:11 AM

                                                        definitely one of the greats. The meatball is great on the liguria foccacia with the pepperoncini. Love it!

                                                      2. pavlov Jul 25, 2008 10:32 AM

                                                        When you finally get to the inner sunset, you can try Milano's as they are great all around, but you *MUST* try Pasquale's. I thought it was weird that a *delivered* meatball sub was one of the best I ever had. So I walked down there later that week and had number two...

                                                        holy yum.

                                                        1. a
                                                          AlongfortheRide Jul 31, 2008 07:31 AM

                                                          North Beach Pizza has a good mb sandwich with the sub roll toasted just right and enough cheese to handle the meatballs.

                                                          1. d
                                                            deanpaul2 Jul 31, 2008 01:14 PM

                                                            Dino's on Fillmore and California has a basic meatball sandwich that works for me...garlic and onions and cheese...it's solid.

                                                            1. s
                                                              scosco Jul 31, 2008 01:37 PM

                                                              Don't bother with Goat Hill Pizza's meatball sando. Cheese on the bottom...open faced...crunchy roll. Blech.

                                                              Their pizza on the other hand is fantastic...

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: scosco
                                                                Dave MP Jul 31, 2008 01:50 PM

                                                                I have not found Goat Hill pizza to be fantastic - the all-you-can eat buffet is not bad, since it's a good bargain, but the one time I ordered take out, the pizza was small and pretty flavorless - and very expensive!

                                                                (I went to the Goat Hill in Potrero Hill)

                                                                1. re: Dave MP
                                                                  s
                                                                  scosco Jul 31, 2008 03:31 PM

                                                                  Hmmm...go figure. I've had a couple bad pies there over the years myself, but in general they beat most out there. Aside from Delfina and Pauline's that is.

                                                                  "Fantastic" might have been a stretch I guess. Very good might have been a better phrase.

                                                              2. s
                                                                Satyr Jul 31, 2008 03:03 PM

                                                                There is a great new pizza dive at 46th Ave. and Noriega in the Sunset that has awesome sandwiches-they call them grinders and they do meatball....incredible! They stop serving the sandos at 4pm I think....it's called "The Pizza Place on Noriega"...easy parking great food...if you're adventurous, try the roasted cauliflower as a side....mmm!

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: Satyr
                                                                  rworange Aug 1, 2008 11:12 AM

                                                                  link 2

                                                                  -----
                                                                  The Pizza Place on Noriega
                                                                  3901 Noriega St, San Francisco, CA 94122

                                                                  1. re: Satyr
                                                                    pavlov Aug 1, 2008 04:08 PM

                                                                    Thanks for this Satyr! This is silly, as the name is used far and wide... you don't happen to DJ locally?

                                                                  2. Frosty Melon Jun 30, 2010 09:00 AM

                                                                    Resurrecting this thread to throw in a mention for the meatball sandwich at Pi (Valencia & 25th), which I had last night. Delicious, just-spicy-enough meatballs with marinara and cheese, on the perfect roll, soft but crusty. Really held up to the meatballs. Came with a side salad, $9. I'd rate this one above Chow's (though I haven't had that one in over a year at least) and the one The Sentinel had last year.

                                                                    http://pibarsf.com/

                                                                    1. h
                                                                      hellatacos Jan 24, 2011 10:10 AM

                                                                      Looks as if Southie ( new sandwich place next to Wood Tavern in Oakland) will be serving a pork and beef meatball sandwich when they open this friday... Will have to try it.

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Wood Tavern
                                                                      6317 College Ave., Oakland, CA 94618

                                                                      1. steve h. Jan 24, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                        Has anyone tried the meatball sub at Tony's Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House?

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: steve h.
                                                                          h
                                                                          hellatacos Jan 24, 2011 10:45 AM

                                                                          Not yet, but I've had the meatballs from the restaurant and they're tasty. I don't like the bread he is using for the sandwiches though, so that would definitely swing it for me...

                                                                          1. re: hellatacos
                                                                            steve h. Jan 24, 2011 11:03 AM

                                                                            Acme supplies the bread for the subs and the sandwiches.
                                                                            According to Grub Street, you have a choice of Italian, Sweet Roll, Sour Roll, Levain (Whole Wheat Blend), New York Rye, Cranberry Walnut, Italian French Bakery (hard roll).

                                                                            http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...

                                                                            1. re: steve h.
                                                                              h
                                                                              hellatacos Jan 24, 2011 01:18 PM

                                                                              hrmm yeah not sure which one the italian beef was on when i tried it but it wasn't that great maybe he changed up the bread since i've been. seems like its hard to find an east coast hoagie roll in the bay area, with the exception of places that import amoroso rolls from philly.

                                                                              1. re: hellatacos
                                                                                steve h. Jan 24, 2011 01:37 PM

                                                                                I feel your pain. I'll give the meatball sub a shot next time I'm in San Francisco.

                                                                                1. re: hellatacos
                                                                                  s
                                                                                  shawliza Jul 28, 2011 03:44 PM

                                                                                  Stay tuned, I'm doing the research, writing the plan, finding the spot and opening just such a place within the next year, in SF.

                                                                          2. felice Jan 26, 2011 05:35 PM

                                                                            Tony's Deli/Pizza has great meatball sandwiches. Between theirs and Mario's, I prefer Tony's.

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