Serious sandwiches at Foggia Italian Market and Deli for the District
PHOTO by ROSHEILA ROBLES
Sandwiches are the product of industrial circumstance, traditionally inexpensive meals of two-handed utility meant to be consumed in no more than a few hearty bites. Rarely does an expensive, decadent sandwich ever seem truly worth its weight—the humblest creations please the most. But there’s nothing lowly or undistinguished about the sandwiches constructed at Foggia Italian Market and Deli in Lakewood: they’re bold, brash stomach-stuffers descended from a proud East Coast tradition.
There’s enough memorabilia here (Red Sox gear, Patriots helmets) to clue you into the shop’s New England heritage. And if you pay close enough attention (or simply ask), you’ll learn the exact point of origin: Providence, Rhode Island, by way of Foggia, Italy. But for as much as owner Bob Quarto harkens back to both locales (the hefty meals here sometimes seem a world away from the delicate Italian dishes that have become indigenous to California), the shop is nothing short of a local legend.
Although Angelo’s Italian Deli has cornered a sizable portion of Long Beach’s sandwich sector (and with good reason), Foggia’s offerings are a different breed, born from those notoriously big-waisted East Coast appetites. They’re scalable, too, available in four-, six-, eight- and twelve-inch varieties. But be warned: anything beyond a medium six-inch sandwich is too dangerous to be consumed alone.
Typical deli favorites like roast beef, turkey, tuna salad and others are available, but stick with the Italian cold cuts. King among those sandwiches is the spicy Italian, which deploys pepperoni, salami, capicola, mortadella, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mustard, mayonnaise, pickles, pepperoncinis and provolone. The sandwich doesn’t pack quite as much heat as you’d think—it’s a balanced attack tempered in part by the spongy roll and the cooling qualities of the lettuce and tomatoes—yet it’s a supreme sandwich that’s an admirable meal at any hour.
Foggia’s gargantuan hot sandwiches deliver on the deli’s East Coast promise. The pastrami, served in the forceful New York style, is unparalleled: ruby ribbons of grilled pastrami are stuffed into a football-sized roll and flavored with mustard, pickles and a layer of melted provolone that seals the sandwich like some kind of shrink-wrapped package. This is as good a pastrami sandwich as you’ll find locally, punishingly large and equally satisfying. (Unsurprisingly, Foggia also offers another East Coast classic: the Philly cheesesteak.)
All of the shop’s meats and cheeses are available to be purchased for your own at-home sandwich operation, but there are also other items to be had, like fresh salads and pastas. There are a couple shelves of pantry-worthy items (pastas, canned goods, oils and the like), but all of that’s to be expected.
What might surprise you, however, is that Foggia is the best local resource for rare and obscure sodas, bottles like NuGrape, Bubble Up and Empire Bottling Works’ Olde Rhode Island molasses root beer. These are sodas that you’re unlikely to find anywhere between here and the famed shelves of Galco’s in Highland Park.
There are a couple of tables to enjoy a sandwich and soda at Foggia, and that’s but another benefit of the deli, which frankly has the goods to draw dedicated customers from freeways far and wide. And it does: Foggia serves that interzone between Long Beach and Lakewood, a borderland in need of more worthy restaurants. Still, Foggia has a perfectly convenient location. After you stuff your stomach with a sandwich, head next door to Snug Harbor, a cave of a bar that’s the perfect chaser.
FOGGIA ITALIAN MARKET AND DELI 5522 DEL AMO BLVD | LAKEWOOD 90713 | 562.627.0987 | OPEN DAILY 11AM-8PM | FOOD FOR TWO $10-20 | BEER, WINE