I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to some pretty cool places in my quarter-century of existence. In fact, just within this past year I set foot in Denver, Miami, Louisville, Chicago, Las Vegas and a handful of islands in the Caribbean. I enjoy the hell out of traveling; Waiting out a delay with a beer and a friend at the airport bar. Exploring unfamiliar city streets. Sinking $80 into a single dinner. (That ribeye was definitely worth it, though.)
Of course there will always be things we miss while we are away from home. Some people yearn for their beds. Others, for clothes that they haven’t already worn three times in four days. And some people just miss the cozy feeling of being home. As for me, there’s always one thing I seem to miss when I’m away from home for a time:
There are few things in this world that are more satisfying to me than a good deli sandwich. And I happen to think that St. Louis has some very respectable sandwich shops, if one knows where to look. Luckily for me, I have a brand new platform via this blog to share my sandwich hot takes with all of you. So let’s jump in with both feet: here’s sandwich review #1.
Vendor: Gioia’s Deli, 1934 Macklind Ave., St. Louis, MO
Sammie: Hot Salami & Hot Roast Beef (aka “The Big Al”)
Bread: Garlic Cheese on French Bread (Tosted)
Sandwiches can be a sensitive issue. Debate over the title of the River City’s best sammie has led to complete, purple-in-the-face-angry screaming matches amongst my friends, as silly and barbaric as that sounds. That’s why for sandwich review #1 I chose to review a shop with unquestionable STL sandwich prestige. To all my future sandwich review recipients, take notes here.
Gioia’s Deli is your textbook mom-and-pop kind of lunch eatery. Nestled at the corner of Daggett and Macklind Avenues, Gioia’s stands at the same exact location as it did when it first opened its doors in 1918. A staple of “The Hill” neighborhood, Gioia’s is blistering with Italian heritage, as evidenced by the Italian flag mural at the store’s entryway. The fact that it’s just a baseball-toss across the street from the notable Berra Park makes the ambiance all the more real. And we haven’t even gotten to the meat yet.
Gioia’s is famous for its “hot salami”–which is cut in thick splices more like a sausage than a traditional lunch meat. For those wanting the full experience, I would recommend trying the Hot Salami & Roast Beef as I did this past weekend.
- Famous “Hot Salami”
- Thin-cut Italian beef
- Toasted garlic cheese bread
- Pepper cheese
- Giardiniera spread
- Mayo (add on)
The flavor I notice first is the tempered zest of the hot salami. Seasoned to perfection, the meat seems to escalade in taste with each passing bite. The bread is crunchy and fresh. While biting into the center of my first half, the pepper cheese now dominates the taste buds, but only for a moment. The next bite couples the sweet-spicyness of salami with the savory goodness of cheese melted on top of roast beef. Perfection. The kick of the giardiniera is there, but isn’t overbearing. While deliberately savoring every bite, I pause before making my way to the second half.
I feel obligated to note here that I didn’t eat the sandwich on location, but rather I took it home with me. I am going to try to do as many of these reviews on location as possible to ensure optimal freshness. I also would like to take photos of the sandwiches to share here before they are devoured, but I didn’t do that this weekend either. In spite of these facts, this was an excellent sandwich, guys. Even after the 20-minute commute home to eat, my “Big Al” was still relatively warm and not lacking in flavor. As far as hot sammies go, consider this the new gold standard.
Overall Rating: 4.8/5