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Some short sandwich commentary

I'd like to know from the LA crew on this one topic. Bay Cities to me, Godmother and the rest of the sandwiches on over and over experiences, is simply a feeble and weak sandwich all around. Why are people enamored over this sad excuse for a sandwich?

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  1. could it be the pink tomatoes?

    1. Who makes your favorite sub type sandwich?

      1. When I was in Atlantic City a few years back (stick with me) a friend recommended I go to a sandwich shop there called White House Subs. I got their house special, the Italian sub or whatever, and it was frickin' delicious, the best sub I ever had. It was loaded with Italian meats, and I mean loaded (the same kinds of meats in the Godmother) and the bread, while not necessarily my absolute favorite, was neither too crunchy nor too soft. And the whole thing was like $6.

        Now, the godmother, while the meats themselves are tasty, there is nowhere near enough of a proper meat to bread ratio (way too much bread). And that bread, while good in and of itself, is not appropriate for a sandwich cause it is way too crusty.

        So, does the sandwich taste good? Yes. If I had never had another good Italian-type sub, would I consider it good, yes? But once you've had a really, really good Italian sub, then yes, the Godmother falls short... Maybe if you got double meat on the Godmother it would start approaching a really good sub (but that bread is still too crunchy). I know see why the bread at White House Subs was just in between--on it's own, it might not be the best tasting bread, but it did fulfill it's job in the sub.

        7 Replies
        1. re: film_score

          "Now, the godmother, while the meats themselves are tasty, there is nowhere near enough of a proper meat to bread ratio (way too much bread)."

          I think your issue for meat in the meat/bread ratio is of personal preference. I personally think BC has the right balance, and yes, that's my personal preference. I used to be in your school - more is better - but having tried this sandwich numerous times over the course of 35+ years, I like it the way it is. Similarly, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches usually have a lighter meat/bread ratio (at least in the SoCal area - Bay area folks seem to like the heavier emphasis on meat). For me, it's about the balance of flavors, as opposed to layers of meat held together by an "edible holding device." On occasion, I do want more protein. I've found Rinaldi's in El Segundo to hit that note well - the Godfather.

          1. re: bulavinaka

            That's probably why banh mi sandwiches are so reasonably priced.

            1. re: kevin

              "Similarly, Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches usually have a lighter meat/bread ratio..."

              I think they're reasonably priced for that reason, but also because of the competition in places like SGV and Little Saigon combined with the customer base that they serve (which came first - the chicken or the egg thing).

          2. re: film_score

            "But once you've had a really, really good Italian sub, then yes, the Godmother falls short..."

            My experience directly contradicts this claim, as I've had some of the best MA, CT, and NY have to offer.

            1. re: a_and_w

              "But once you've had a really, really good Italian sub, then yes, the Godmother falls short..."

              I'm on the side of agreeing with this statement. That's not to say, of course, that folks aren't free to love the godmother for what it is...but those, like me, who have a (east coast) preconception of what an Italian combo could/should be, will probably not find the godmother to be a suitable surrogate.

              To hone in a little sharper... though doubling the meat might take it one step closer, it's not just about meat volume. The best Italian heros I've had do not sport equal quantities of each meat, but rather a larger amount of some and just a hint of others.

              Think: recipe or dish, rather than just a list of ingredients layered on in equal proportion regardless.

              And, yes, though the Bay Cities bread can be all right when it's fresh, it's still not the ideal one for an Italian combo, to my taste.

              1. re: wutzizname

                "but those, like me, who have a (east coast) preconception of what an Italian combo could/should be, will probably not find the godmother to be a suitable surrogate."

                This is a very fair comment, wutzizname. But such preconceptions flow both ways. I was always a little disappointed by Italian delis back east because they didn't do sandwiches like CA. Take the Melampo man on Sullivan Street (now called Alidoro). His Italian sandwiches were works of art, with carefully predetermined proportions of the highest quality meats and condiments. But I was always a little annoyed that I couldn't just have my Pinnochio with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, and dijon (yes, dijon) mustard.

                BTW, for those dissatisfied about the amount of meat on the Godmother, try ordering a different sandwich. I often order salami+cheddar or capicola+provolone, which gets me roughly twice the meat as a Godmother.

            2. re: film_score

              OMG - The White House Rules. It does make the Godmother look like a complete fairy.

            3. I think the bread makes the sandwich at BC's, don't understand why they charge a buck extra for "the works", which is basically lettuce, tomatoes and onions?

              Had a Claro's pre-made large Italian sub for $5 last week and it wasn't bad for the price.

              1. Because we have different preferences than you and don't experience is as feeble, weak, or sad. Seriously, do you really think there's a way anyone can persuade you through reason or argument that it's superior? Just accept that it's not your cup of tea and move on.

                PS: I have to admit that I wouldn't mind a selection of rolls, including something softer for when I'm not in the mood for their bread. I also would like better meat than Boar's Head. I thought all these things again when hitting some Italian delis up in SF over the holidays. But the Godmother I thoroughly enjoy, even if there is some room for improvement.

                1. Since the responses here seem to be all over the map, please let me join the confusion and say that if the roll's crust is CRUNCHY, then I'm inclined to forgive what might be a paucity of meat. If the roll is merely soft and tender (such as Claro's tend to be) then this is okay too, though I do miss the crunch. But if the crumb is soft but the crust is like leather, as is entirely too common, then you can have salumi from the finest meat purveyors on this or any continent in there, and I'm still gonna hate it because when I bite it all that fine meat just blurps out the sides.

                  I am still looking for a proper crunchy, crusty roll, with a really good sandwich inside. To me, it's not filling vs. meat; a sandwich is a single thing of and unto itself.

                  1. I am sorry to say that with their increased popularity, the quality of the sandwiches at Bay Cities have declined significantly...and I say this as a loyal customer for the past 50+ years! The Godmother used to be an overflowing work of beauty made by professional deli countermen and women...now it is a mass produced sandwich made by people who just don't care! I have pictures of me in high school eating the Godmother (we used to walk there for lunch in the late 60's) and it does not bear any resemblance to the current incarnation. The bread is different (I know that their supplier's recipe changed a number of years ago) and the quantity and quality of the meats and cheese have diminished.

                    As someone who travels extensively on the East coast, I have the opportunity to eat in the wonderful Italian delis there...and Bay Cities used to be in the ballpark...no longer! Sad, sad, sad!

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: TravelPath

                      Travel Path is right on, I too remember a much better sandwich back in the late 60's , this happens to many businesses' it is just the owners wish to squeez more coin out of the yuppies wallets.

                      1. re: malibumike

                        Thank my lucky stars it's not nearly as good as it used to be. Otherwise I would be in REAL trouble with my addiction to the Godmother...phew! ;-D>

                      2. re: TravelPath

                        My dad owned Bay Cities Importing when it was on the corner of Lincoln & Broadway. This would be from around 1955 to 1960 when my father died of cancer.
                        I worked there for those 5 years from age 12 to age 17.
                        You would trim the meats and cheese in the display cases every morning to make the ends look fresh. The trimmings were thrown away until the idea to put them in a standard rool made at Venice bakery. The sandwich sold for 20 cents and it didn't take very long before you were making a lot of sandwiches getting ready for the lunch rush. They would be lined up out the door at lunchtime.
                        My dad saw that a lot of people would buy 2 sandwiches for themselves so he got together with Venice Bakery and had them make a longer roll for a longer sandwich. This was another big hit.
                        There used to be provolone cheese hanging from the ceiling and olives and feta cheese came in a wooden barrel with a plastic liner from Italy. The health rules were a lot different but I never remember anyone getting sick from any of the food back then. We would grate Parmesan & Romano cheese on a cheese grater in the back room which gave the store its smell and if you were the one grating the cheese you smelled just like the store.
                        My dad passed away in 1960 and the store was sold to another party.
                        A lot of those products back then actually came from Italy and that is why it was called Bay Cities Importing.
                        My favorite sandwich was a boiled ham sliced real thin and plenty of it with a slice of mozarrella and mayonnaise. Boy was that good
                        Just an update to how it was in the 50's.

                        1. re: ramairtom

                          Thanks for the insight into the 'old days' cause I wasn't even aware of Bay Cities back that far. Still good but hey, what's as good as it once was?

                          1. re: sel

                            In business for something like 85 years

                          2. re: ramairtom

                            I remember it as you describe...walking in, you would be hit by the wonderful aroma of cheese and spices...it was heavenly!...and the staff knew you by name and probably what you wanted before you asked! It was a different world...and as a public health doc, I can say that it is only marginally safer today than it was in the 50's and 60's...and I would give up that minuscule margin of safety in a second to have the old style Italian market back!! SIGH!

                        2. A-1 in San Pedro does a pretty good sub. It had a good amount of meat to bread ratio. I look forward to having another!!!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JEN10

                            Agree. In my search for anything resembling an east coast-style Italian hero around the greater L.A. area, this is the one that's come closest, or at least the one I've enjoyed most.