It’s just now occurred to me that a full calendar year has passed since I’ve gotten in the saddle (logged into my WordPress site) and grabbed the reigns (my keyboard) to wrangle the cattle back to pasture (knock out another sandwich review). Yup, if I were a rancher I might be in some serious trouble. Fortunately, we’re only talking sandwiches, and the stakes are a bit lower.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I am very excited to deliver a make-good in the form of a brand-new sandwich review, with at least two more lined up at this point in time and coming very soon.

And folks….I think we have a really good one to kick things off. The location of today’s review is BY FAR the most requested sandwich spot I’ve received since I started the blog. And even better, this was my first time indulging in this charming corner deli. I love going into a new location blind when writing a review. So without further ado, here’s Eovaldi’s Deli.

This review takes us back to The Hill, St. Louis’ historic home to Italian-American immigrants and the nucleus of old-school markets, bakeries, and fine eateries. This is my third review of a deli on The Hill, but trust me, there’s a reason for that. Each establishment seemingly takes a great deal of pride in quality, locally-sourced ingredients as well as customer satisfaction. Eovaldi’s – located at the corner of Edwards and Bischoff – was no exception. I made my way there on a dreary March afternoon – I intentionally waited to miss the lunch rush – and stepped through the door to get the party started.

What happened next could have been straight out of a movie. After maneuvering through a couple of the seven or eight tables in the narrow seating area, I found myself in a short line and quickly made it up to the register. I was greeted by a docile, sweet, white-haired older lady who promptly took my order with a pen and scratchpad. The scratch paper was then brought to the kitchen window coupled with an “Order up!”, which was then followed by a cheerful “You got it, Ma!” from somewhere deep inside the kitchen. Family-owned business? Safe bet. And I absolutely love it.

Vendor: Eovaldi’s Deli

Sammie: The “Extra Special”

Bread: French

Dine-In/Carryout: Carryout


  • Roast Beef
  • Ham
  • Mortadella
  • Genova Salami
  • Pepper Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Pickle
  • Onion
  • Banana Pepper
  • Mayo
  • House Dressing

Tasting Notes

During my short drive home, I could not stop thinking about all of the delicious-looking sammies I read on the menu while waiting in line. I found myself planning my second, third, and fourth trips to Eovaldi’s because everything on the menu looked so dang good. But I couldn’t get too ahead of myself. Today was solely about the Extra Special, a legitimate cold cut piled high with four types of sliced meat, topped with the typical deli soppins’ between French bread. What had me really excited though was the pepper cheese, banana peppers, and house dressing which I hoped would give it a little kick.

Were my expectations a little high? Sure, maybe. But the first bite did not miss the mark. The most immediate feeling was the crunch of the fresh bread and the slightest smokey flavor from the barrage of meat. Yes, the meat really was fantastic, and believe me, there was plenty of it to go around. To my delight, the next flavor to stand out was the house dressing. I could definitely taste olive oil and vinegar, and maybe a little something else going on that I couldn’t put my finger on. Whatever it was, it was delicious and very light – it didn’t overpower the sandwich and gave it just the right kind of compliment.

The banana peppers gave it that sweet and spicy kick that I was hoping for. Everything was coming together exactly as planned. As more bites followed, everything remained delicious, however, there were moments when all I could taste was the mortadella. Maybe it’s just the flavor profile, but it seemed like the mort overpowered the rest of the meat quartet, which took away from it a little bit. The sandwich was also doused in onions – which I definitely did not mind. By the time I was nearly done with the first half it hit me: where’s the cheese? The pepper cheese sliced thin and white was almost entirely absent from the sandwich. I’m not sure if it was the brand of cheese that was just a little bland, or maybe there was simply too much going on, but I did not expect the cheese to be such a non-factor. Overall though, I was very impressed with this cold cut, and I have plans to make it back to try to other menu items in a big way.

Overall Rating: 4.4/5

Sandwich Review #10: Nomad


For me, February is the most brutal month on the calendar. The fresh air smell and early morning chills from an October tailgate are now just a distant memory. The time spent with family and friends away from the (home) office in November and December have come and gone. The magic of the first January snow — that seemed to be so light, powdery and perfect — has all but faded; in February, you’re gifted with a sheet of ice and sub-freezing windchills to make you question why you’d ever leave the house again.

Yup, that’s February alright.

Although, February has some nice stuff. This weekend, for example, hosts the annual Mardi Gras celebration in St. Louis. Thousands of people will pack the streets of Soulard to mark the occasion with beer booths, beads, and, you guessed it, DJ Diesel aka Shaquille O’Neal. But seriously though, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of the year’s most miserable month. Mardi Gras warns of the arrival of the Lent season, but it also signals better days ahead. Warmer weather, longer days and (maybe) baseball are coming. And St. Patrick’s Day is also just around the corner.

With the Feast of St. Patrick of Ireland quickly approaching, it seems fitting that this sandwich review hails from the Clayton-Tamm neighborhood of St. Louis – or better known as Dogtown. Nestled just south of Highway 40 and inside of the city limits, Dogtown is known for once being a hub to many immigrants, including Irish. The Irish influence is visible still today as you walk up Tamm Avenue – from the towering steeple of St. James the Greater Church to the windows of stores, bars and other businesses donned with shamrocks. Dogtown is home to the annual Ancient Order of Hibernians St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade route spans almost the entirety of Tamm Avenue, and right at its center is where you can find Nomad Sandwiches and Fine Eats.

Nomad is located inside of Tamm Ave Bar, a spot that is usually bustling, especially in the summer months with its large outdoor patio. Nomad offers dine-in and carryout for all of their offerings, as well as mobile ordering for Tamm Ave customers. I myself have had their Double Deuce while at Tamm Ave – a gargantuan burger topped with their House Pastrami, Swiss and Special Sauce on a brioche bun – so I already knew what greatness was in store for me.

Vendor: Nomad

Sammie: Pastrami

Bread: Marble Rye

Dine-In/Carryout: Carryout


  • House Pastrami
  • Swiss Cheese
  • Special Sauce
  • Marble Rye Bread

Tasting Notes

As I made the ten-minute drive home, the smokey and spicy aromas of the Pastrami sandwich were all I could think about. I couldn’t wait to dive into this beauty. As advertised, the sandwich itself was impressive in size; layered in rows and rows of pastrami smashed between the rye bread. Just as I had hoped, the pastrami flavor was unmistakeable upon the first bite. The taste of smoked beef attacked my taste buds, and I couldn’t get enough of it. While the beef was certainly smokey in taste, it also was a tad spicy, all while not being too overwhelming. I definitely could taste a little pepper in-between each bite. Along with perhaps some oregano and other tastes I couldn’t identify.

The pastrami had a little crunch to it, though overall it was softer than I expected. Still, it maintained that crunchiness that sets pastrami apart from other meats you might find behind a deli counter. I opted to get my “special sauce” on the side so I could layer it on myself. The sauce, I learned, is made of ketchup, mayo and other secret spices. The sauce gave it a little bit of that mayo flavor that complimented the kick from the pastrami really well. The Swiss cheese gave the sandwich just a slight bit of tanginess that it should when paired with pastrami. Overall it came together so well just as I hoped it would. If I had to find an area of criticism, I may have to turn to the bread. Maybe it was just the pastrami being so damn strong and good, but I hardly noticed the bread at all. I also would have rather had the crust just a little more toasty and crunchy. But nonetheless, this signature item gave me everything I could have wanted and more.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5



There is something triggered in my mind when the calendar turns from August to September. That moment right around Labor Day Weekend signals that it’s time to start preparing. For cool, crisp mornings; college football Saturdays; days that are a little shorter. Yes, Fall time is (almost) here. Nonetheless the hot, sticky St. Louis summer air is still lingering as I write this blog from home, and it certainly was still lingering the afternoon I ventured out for my latest sandwich review.

This edition takes us to South St. Louis’ Marine Villa neighborhood – where the streets are lined with centuries-old red brick buildings and a different park is nestled at what seems like every intersection. This historic neighborhood is the home of Cherokee Antique Row – a bustling collecting of design shops, breweries, restaurants and antique stores all along or immediately around Cherokee Street. Seeing so many small businesses packed into an area of just a few blocks was refreshing, and I couldn’t help but take a look around to see what else was tucked away behind the red brick walls that surrounded me. However, this was a business trip, so after my short walk down Cherokee it was time to get that sammie that I set out for.

Elaine’s Classic American Sandwiches is just that, but with a twist or two. Sure, you can find your classic sub sandwiches on the handwritten chalkboard menu, but Elaine’s serves up anything from chicken cordon blue subs, southwest chicken wraps and Cubans to satisfy all tastes. The storefront is short in length, and a long wooden countertop separates the kitchen from the small dining room. The countertop is donned with the aforementioned chalkboard that serves as the shop’s menu. A cooler off to the side holds frosty Skis, Fritz’s Root Beers and other beverages. There’s something about this place that truly makes you feel comfortable as you walk in, like how a deli should be. Elaine herself greets my special guest and I as we peruse the pink and blue chalk descriptions below the counter. Elaine has operated her shop since 2015 and proudly notes to us that she sources many of her ingredients locally. After a quick Q&A about her favorite sandwiches, I’ve reached my decision.

Vendor: Elaine’s Classic American Sandwiches

Sammie: Buffalo Chicken

Bread: Brioche

Dine-In/Carryout: Carryout


  • Chicken
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Gouda & Blue Cheese
  • Shredded Cabbage
  • Pickle

Tasting Notes

The initial bites are very bread-heavy. Maybe it’s the density of the brioche bun, or just the nature of the thinly sliced chicken, but I didn’t get much of the buffalo sauce until the third bite or so. Digging in a little bit further, I get the tanginess of the cheeses – this is great stuff. The bread is soft and borderline spongy. There is no crunch to this bread but it still works for me. A few more bites in and I take in the chicken and bread – but where’s the sauce? This take on buffalo chicken uses a more watery texture, almost like Louisiana or Cholula hot sauce. However, it really doesn’t have the spice or buffalo flavor I was expecting. I would compare it more to a red pepper sauce than a buffalo sauce.

As I finish up I can’t help but feel that the ratio of bread to chicken is just a little off. After accepting that the texture of the buffalo sauce wasn’t maybe as thick as I expected, I really thought that I would taste the buffalo or feel the burn a little more. That isn’t quite what I got, however and what I felt was a mostly brioche sandwich with some tasty cheese and chicken mixed in. Admittedly, I am a little bit of a buffalo chicken snob, but this one left something to be desired.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

SANDWICH REVIEW #8: Vinnie’s on Ivanhoe

It’s a funny thing, but I miss getting stuck in traffic. Maybe it’s my default mode that favors a regular routine, or maybe it’s just fatigue from staying at home after all this time. Whatever the case may be, sitting behind a line of about eight cars on Manchester Road at Brentwood Boulevard at 5pm on Friday evening brought back some semblance of normal to my life.

To be fair, I think you’d be hard pressed to find anything “normal” in our world today, as we continue to push through the effects of a global pandemic and the unrest spurred by social injustice in the US. Maybe things aren’t suppose to feel normal right now. Maybe that’s okay. Yet, on a cloudy Saturday in south St. Louis, it felt like it was time to get back in the saddle and try something “normal” again. It felt like it was time for my 8th sandwich review. And I knew exactly where I was headed.

Vinnie’s on Ivanhoe is somewhat of an anomaly when it comes to sandwich shops around these parts; if you’re looking for just a basic cold cut sub, then this place probably isn’t for you. A look up and down the menu you will bounce from Chicago Dogs to Greek salads, from meatball subs and Ruebens and Philly cheese steaks to Gyros and pitas and Tzatziki sauce. In short, Vinnie’s brings an authentic taste of Chicago with a Greek-style twist. And they like it that way.

Walking into Vinnie’s felt a little bit like walking back into time. The sandwiches are hand-made on the grill adjacent to the counter. The tables (limited to outside only today) are each topped with a table cloth. The walls are donned with flyers of neighborhood businesses and the menu is written on a chalk board above the cash register. Maybe it’s all of these things, or maybe it’s the old school, non-pretentious feel of the Lindenwood Park neighborhood in general. But whatever it is, I feel like I’m in for a treat today.

Vendor: Vinnie’s on Ivanhoe

Sammie: Italian Beef

Bread: “Crusty bread” hoagie roll

Dine-In/Carryout: Carryout


  • Sliced roast beef
  • Provolone cheese
  • Peppers and onions
  • Giardiniera
  • “Dipped in juice”

Tasting Notes

Despite being only a 5 minute drive home, I was anxious as hell to dive into the Italian Beef Sandwich, one of Vinnie’s signature items. To my delight, my sandwich is still perfectly hot after tearing away the layers of tin foil that swaddled it. The bread is soft – not particularly flakey, but not mushy either. The first bite is an instant jolt of roast beef and au jus sauce (or simply “the juice”) to the taste buds. The beef is cut extra thin but layered on and definitely not lacking any of that rich flavor. The bread and cheese have been made so soft by the au jus that they seem to just melt and roll together with every bite. The onions and pepper give it a slight crunch, but don’t really stand out from a flavor perspective.

After the second or third bite I get the slightest of aftertaste of bitter spiciness, no doubt from the giardiniera spread on top. Any place that serves up hot sandwiches with giardiniera is going to immediately score points with me. However, this spread runs a bit more mild than I would have expected. The combo of olive oil and pepper-like tastes compliments the beef well. My only complaint is that it could have brought even a little more kick, either from the giardiniera or the grilled peppers mixed in to really put it over the top.

Vinnie’s Italian Beef Sandwich

As I make my way into the second half of this Chicago classic, I still haven’t been able to pin down the bread. The bread is clearly fresh, and the center has been made soft by the juicy beef in the center. However this “crusty bread” has a little less crust to it than I expected. Rather than breaking off in tiny flakes at the top, this bread has kept its consistent softness throughout. I can only image how this would taste on a French baguette rather than the hoagie roll. At the end of the day I can’t complain though, as I found myself scarfing down my second half and wanting more. Well played, Vin…

Overall Rating: 4.4/5

Ramblings from a pandemic…

“In these trying times…”, “During times on uncertainty….”, “The ‘new’ normal…”

If you’re like me, you’ve grown tired of hearing some of these ambiguous and wide-ranging statements that have now become the new and bizarre salutations of the year 2020. Whether it be brands trying to reach us on our screens, our employers stuffing our inboxes or our friends and neighbors chatting across the yard, it seems almost impossible to avoid these cryptic reminders of what has now been a 4 1/2 month-long upheaval of the world as we knew it.

Okay, so let me back up for a minute.

We are living in the middle of a global pandemic – a public health event far more serious than anything I (and I would bet all of you reading this blog) have experienced in my lifetime. During these past few months we as a country have experienced the Covid-19-flavored stages of grief ranging from runs on the grocery store (buy ALL the toilet paper) to shuttering ourselves inside our homes to wherever we are now, all the while counting case numbers and building our personal predictive models to tell us when we’ve all “flattened the curve” enough to resume our normal lives.

Simply put, it’s been rough. I’d have to think that everyone reading this blog has experienced some kind of challenges during this time period. I want to say again that the seriousness and caution that we continue to take should not be understated. Yet, in the midst of all of this, there must be something that pushes us forward. What gives us hope? When we all get through this and we look back on how we coped during this time, what will we see? What got us through it? The answers for me look something like this:

Stopping to See What Was Already Right in Front of Me

It might sound strange, but one thing I will remember about the pandemic is how it brought me out of my house and around people more. (Yes, in a safe socially-distanced kind of way.) This June marked my two-year anniversary of living in my current neighborhood in south St. Louis. Somehow, in those two years, I only managed to meet the neighbors that lived immediately next door or across the street from me. That is, until the pandemic. Somewhere between the video conference meetings and virtual happy hours from home, I noticed my neighbors further down the block would gather in their front yard strapped with lawn chairs and beers in coozies every Friday. And then every Thursday. And then every Wednesday. Before long the lawn chair round table became a habitual meeting of neighbors whenever it was time to quit virtually working for the day. Once I finally had enough courage to approach my neighbor’s front yard, I realized that I had found a group of people that I connected with and otherwise would have probably never met if not for this temporary shut down of the daily routine. If nothing else, one of the positives that I will take away from the pandemic is finding the courage to not stay in self-isolation forever, but instead take a chance and in the end being rewarded for it.

The Hope of Playing Again

It would only be fitting that today, as I write, we have finally reached the resume of major North American sports. From this point out we can only hold onto our seats and hope that the inevitable bumps in the road do not become craters that sink the sports fan’s dream of watching televised sports in 2020 once and for all. Of course, we are just on the heels of a Friday in which 20% of the MLB postponed their scheduled games to trace contact of those Covid-19 positive, so the future may be more uncertain than ever for major sports. But as we return to our living rooms to flip on the game, let’s not forget what it felt like to have no major sports in our reach. Let’s not take our favorite sports for granted. And maybe above all else, let’s not forget what it felt like to hope. Even when things seemed at their worst, (relative to sports resuming) there was always that hope of maybe things will work out. Maybe we will have a season. Maybe things will be better again. It may be a little cheesy, but I know that for me personally this hope is what helped me through the dog days of April and May where I was counting down the days for Bundesliga soccer to resume. And finally, I learned that even with empty seats, fake crowd noise or no games at all, the hope of playing and coming together to follow our favorite teams again is just as real as the games themselves.

Be safe. Here’s to hoping for more Cardinals baseball, Blues hockey, and Mizzou football and basketball in our near future.

Welcome to the Crossroads, Mizzou Fans

Come, gather round, my miserable Mizzou brothers and sisters. We have to have a little chat.

The last time we got together I wrote of the opportunistic schedule that lay before the 2019 Missouri Tigers. I typed ad nauseam about the potential strengths that this version of the Tigers had to offer – particularly on offense. And while I never gave out a projected win total (I’m a coward, I know), the implication was there: 2019 could have been a big year to move the football program forward, postseason ban be damned.

This is why we need to have this chat, friends.

Now, it would be easy for me to tell you right here from my couch how big of a disaster the 2019 season was, or how in hindsight this group just continued to underachieve without sharing my thoughts week-by-week. (Which by the way, I really regret that I was not able to do.) We do need to chat about how things shook out in 2019 and why, but more importantly, we need to chat about what happens for this program next.

First thing’s first, let’s pour one out for BO

As it’s been nearly a full week now this won’t be news to anyone: The Barry Odom era at Missouri has ended. Chalk it up for a 25-25 overall record, 0-2 in bowl games and 13-19 in Southeastern Conference games. Talk about average-at-best.

A man losing his job should never be celebrated. I am not glad that Jim Sterk had to pull the plug on Barry Odom, but I have no hesitation saying it was the right move. Odom inherited the program at a time when the Missouri football program was viewed as toxic. Nobody wanted this job. On top of it all, in the wake of the 2015 protests, Mack Rhoades, the man who hired Odom, immediately bails for Baylor. I do not envy the position that Odom was put in. There is no doubt that he put his heart and soul into this program, but the performances on the field were indefensible.

The biggest factor in Odom’s downfall, in my opinion, was how he managed to lose any and all momentum the second he gained it.

  • Win six in a row against a cupcake schedule? Lose convincingly to Texas.
  • Win all four games in November including a (kind of) signature win at Florida? Lose another bowl game to Oklahoma State.
  • Win the prized free agent of the college football offseason and gain some buzz for the upcoming season? Lose to Wyoming before the calendar even hits September.

When it came down to it, Odom feasted on inferior competition, and proved that he couldn’t get his guys prepared to win games when it mattered most. His in-game management was questionable. His players seemed to perform worse when given extra time to prepare. And losing to the likes of Middle Tennessee State, Purdue (in a blowout), Wyoming, Vanderbilt and Kentucky (four years in a row!!) is never going to help your case. It was time to move on.

One final thought – for those that would point out that Odom would have been bowl eligible for a third straight year, and that firing coaches that go to bowls at Missouri is not acceptable, I would ask you to consider this: In 1974 (this was the year my dad was a freshman at MU) Mizzou’s non-conference schedule included Ole Miss, Arizona State (who was No. 7 in the country that year according to Wikipedia) and Wisconsin. They also had to play Nebraska (No. 5 in the country) and Oklahoma (No. 2). In 1975 it included Alabama (No. 2), Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan (No. 12). Missouri would also go on to play No. 2 Ohio State, No. 4 USC and No. 5 Notre Dame on their non-conference schedule later that decade.

In 2017 Missouri faced football juggernauts such as Idaho, UConn, Mo State and Purdue (ugh…). In 2018 it included the powerhouse that is UT-Martin and in 2019 they faced some ferocious bunches from SEMO and Troy……and, yes, Wyoming. We know how that turned out.

Now, my point here is that the college football schedules across the board are much, much easier than they once were. I know everyone else does it. I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out that on your 12-game schedule, you’re given, let’s call it what it is, basically 4 automatic wins, and oh by the way, your cross-division SEC rival is Arkansas, who is a historically bad football team by SEC standards in recent years. That means assuming you win those 5 games, one win out of your remaining 7 games adds up to a successful season? I think Missouri could and should set the bar higher than that. 6-6 does not make you invincible. It makes you average.


Now, it’s time to look ahead

Now that I’ve spent more time on Barry Odom’s firing than I would have liked, it’s time to talk about what’s ahead for Missouri as a program. As a disclaimer, I am not going to give my hot list of names that Mizzou should go hire. I will leave the real journalists to that. But I feel compelled to say this: This next head coaching hire will set the tone for Mizzou Athletics for the next decade, and I’m only being a little dramatic here. I have a great deal of confidence in Jim Sterk. For better or for worse, Barry was not Sterk’s guy, and you just got the sense that Sterk was waiting around for an excuse to get his own guy.

Now is Jim Sterk’s chance to get “his guy”. And it needs to work out.

I have been of the opinion that despite Odom’s lackluster performances, now would not have been the perfect time to make a coaching change. In addition to the bowl ban handed down by the NCAA for the tutor scandal everyone is all-too-familiar with, Mizzou has been punished with restrictions on recruiting class sizes and official visits, fines and a reduction in scholarships. That hurts. A lot. It certainly is not a positive when you are already a rebuilding program in the SEC trying to attract a new bench boss. What coach will want to take this challenge on with all of that added weight thrown in the mix?

Sterk’s decision would leave me to believe that he has a guy, or guys, that he likes and thinks can turn the program around to where it once was not so long ago. (Remember when we were a half away from the BCS National Championship game in 2013?) Now, of course AD Sterk will seek a guy that can win football games. That is paramount for the next head coach. But also, Sterk will seek a charismatic figure who can legitimately be the face of this football program. Someone who will capture the imagination of the casual Missouri fan and help guide recruits to Columbia, Missouri. I feel confident in saying that Jim Sterk knows that success means selling tickets perhaps as much as winning football games. This is a fact he won’t soon forget, and it will come into play with his hire expected to come sometime next week.

These are precarious times to be a Missouri Tigers fan. At risk of sounding doom and gloom, the decision of who will be the next head coach of the Missouri Football Tigers has the potential to do a lot more bad than good. But, nonetheless, we have seen the heights that this program can reach. Is this program ready to compete for the SEC? I don’t know. It does not look that way for 2020. But we can see how quickly things can change when all of the right pieces are in place. Now here’s to hoping that Jim Sterk can find his man…

“When things happen throughout your life, you never lose hope. You battle and pull together, You never know when greatness is around the corner.” – Gary Pinkel

Tiger Tracker: What does 2019 have in store for Mizzou? Maybe a lot….

On this day Monday, August the 26th, 2019 the rain and thunder fell like 1,000 hammers atop Greater Saint Louis. By midday though, the storm had quieted, the clouds departed, and for the slightest of moments the crisp smell of fall filled the air for the first time this year. It’s only fitting that today would also be the day that Starbucks unleashed their Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew (get ready all you basic b’s) – as if I needed any more proof to say this: Football is back.

Now, sure, technically speaking Week 0 of the college football season is already behind us. But this weekend will mark the first full slate of college football matchups, and I couldn’t be any more excited. There will be plenty of fun and games to follow in the months ahead in the world on major college football, but this season promises to be the most interesting in at least a handful of years for my Missouri Tigers. The 2019 season has the potential to be the most successful in Barry Odom’s short career as Head Coach. It could be a season held up as a shining star to bolster recruiting across the state and the region. Or, at least for fans, it could be the season that was for not. One stashed away and forgotten like some rotted tennis shoes in the back of your closet. It could be the year that could have been for Missouri fans, depending on what a handful of people in Indianapolis have to say.

The sanctions

It’s the elephant in the room. The NCAA Committee on Infractions levied Missouri with sanctions – including a postseason ban –  after it had found that Mizzou committed academic misconduct once a tutor revealed that she had completed coursework for 12 student athletes, including former members of the football team. Missouri has appealed the NCAA’s decision and submitted its case before the Committee on Infractions, but as it stands at this very moment, they will not be eligible for the postseason. That means no bowl game. No SEC Championship game. And, even if this were that special year where it may happen, no College Football Playoff for the Tigers. There is basically no precedence for a scenario like this, so the NCAA could take weeks or even months before it makes its final decision on Missouri’s sanctions. (At the time of writing, it had been approximately four weeks since Missouri attended its official Appeals Committee hearing in Indianapolis.)

The schedule

That’s all to say that it’s….kind of a bummer that Mizzou got placed in this situation this year. That may sound obvious, but when you look at the schedule for the Tigers in 2019, it shakes out in Mizzou’s favor to compete in Atlanta for the SEC title for the first time since 2014. Barry Odom has increased his win total every year since taking reigns from Gary Pinkel following the 2015 season. This is a feat that Missouri fans tend to easily forget. (I certainly do.) But in 2019, Barry and the Boys have a chance to really do some damage.

Mizzou kicks off 2019 in Laramie against a Wyoming team that returns a defense which was in the top third of NCAA Division-I teams in 2018, but are no world beaters by any means. Mizzou is a consensus 17-point favorite, and should be able to take care of business in the mountains. In the weeks following, Mizzou will face a West Virginia team that has lost the bulk of its starters from 2018 and rolls out a first year head coach, FCS opponent SEMO, and a South Carolina team that isn’t a push-around by any means, but isn’t as talented as previous editions. (Also – in 2019 South Carolina will play Alabama, Mizzou, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M and Clemson…..can you say ‘yikes’?) A bye week will proceed another FCS opponent in Troy, followed by an Ole Miss team that has been rather disappointing under Head Coach Matt Luke, and then road dates with Vanderbilt and Kentucky before a second bye week.

If Missouri stays focussed, finishes drives, takes care of the ball and can create just a little bit of havoc on defense, it isn’t crazy to think that they may be 7-1 or even 8-0 heading into November 9th, when they will head down on the plains to face SEC East favorite Georgia for what may be the defining matchup of the season. No doubt it will be a compelling couple of months for Mizzou fans, but the optimism is clouded by the possibility of having nothing to play for if the postseason ban and other sanctions stand.

The reality

While the NCAA ponders its decision, in just a few short days we will be playing some football games that count. Regardless of what the latest word on Missouri’s sanctions are, it won’t matter at approximately 6:30 on Saturday night. It might sound cliche, but it does appear that Coach Odom and his staff have encouraged their players to block out the noise in the mass media and focus on the task in front of them. Last spring, numerous Missouri upperclassmen, including Clemson graduate transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant, had the opportunity to transfer out of the program and to a school which would have something to play for in 2019. Zero of them did so.

Much to Coach Odom’s credit, it would seem that this group has bought in to his message and are determined to make the most of the 12 games which they are guaranteed to compete in. Barring a complete disaster this year, Odom’s job security seems more certain than ever. Like his players, it will be up to him to execute against Wyoming and each opponent in the following weeks.

Predictions for 2019

While I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you what the NCAA will rule and when, I do feel strongly that this team will have success moving the ball. For all of the nerds like me, Mizzou is projected to have a top-15 offense in terms of overall efficiency. They return 3 starters on the offensive line including 1st Team All SEC member Tre’Vour Wallace-Simms. At running back, Larry Roundtree III has proven that he can carry the ball 25 times a game and still be effective, while Tyler Badie slides in as a nice change of pace back. The receiving corp looks to be strong on paper with Arkansas graduate transfer Jonathan Nance, who once led the Razorbacks in receiving; Jonathan Johnston who is reliable in the slot; a trio of sophomores all looking to receive decent playing time in Kam Scott, Jalen Knox and Dominic Gicinto; and a monster tight end Albert Okwuegbunam who, when healthy, looks like he has all the talent to be playing on Sundays in the near future. Then of course Kelly Bryant will serve as the engine that drives the car for the Mizzou offense. Bryant was 16-2 as a starter at Clemson, completing 66% of his passes before ultimately losing the starting job to sophomore phenom Trevor Lawrence. At Missouri, he hopes to find his targets much of the same way as a passer first, however, Bryant can also get outside of the pocket and run for yards when he needs to.

Things are a bit more uncertain on defense, where last year the Tigers ranked 25th in overall efficiency yet struggled to establish a consistent pass rush almost throughout the entire campaign. Odom’s staff has made some adjustments to combat this, however. Missouri will roll out a 4-2-5 base defense this year to try to better stop opponents’ passing attack. Missouri’s cornerbacks looked helpless in coverage at times last year, however when there is no pressure on the opponent’s quarterback the DBs simply can’t cover long enough. If this is meant to be one of those special seasons, these groups will have to hold strong either by committee or for one or two players to emerge as game changers.

Final thoughts for Saturday: I hope to see Kelly Bryant and the offense get their feet wet with a couple of successful drives, with minimal negative yards and no turnovers to prevent Wyoming from really getting into the game. I also expect to see at least six different wide receivers/tight ends in rotation at Wyoming so that Coach Odom, Coach Dooley and the rest of the staff can see what they got on offense. And finally, as stated earlier, I hope to see somebody on defense create some pressure and record a sack or two to get this group’s confidence up early to begin the season.

Buckle up, college football fans. It should be another fun ride in 2019.


ICE COLD TAKES: Blues Go Marching in to Round 2 with an Uncharted Confidence

Friends – it’s been far too long since we’ve all gotten together. I hope to not make this a trend, but instead get the ball rolling on a promise I made long ago. My hope for this new segment that I’m calling Freezing Cold Takes is to continue to bring the #HotTakes that you’ve grown accustomed to about sandwiches and extend them into the realm of sports. (St. Louis sports to be specific).

Thank you as always for your continued support. Stay tuned for more sports opinion and sandwich reviews coming soon!

Blues and Stars Align Once Again

Round 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight, and the Blues will host the Dallas Stars in Game 1 at Enterprise Center following the conclusion of Game 1 between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins in an Eastern Conference showdown.

This will be the 14th meeting of the Blues and Stars franchises in the playoffs since the two were created in the 1967 NHL Expansion. One interesting note, the past three times the Blues have reached the Conference Final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blues had defeated the Stars at some point in the postseason. Most recently, the Blues eliminated the Stars in 7 games in the Second Round of the 2015-16 Playoffs before losing to the Sharks in 6 games; before that, the Note swept the Stars in the Conference Semifinals (The old-school name for the Second Round) of the 2000-01 playoffs before falling to the Avalanche in 5 games; and in the 1985-86 Playoffs the Blues defeated the Minnesota North Stars 3-2 in a best-of-five series in the Division Semifinals (An even older-school name for the First Round) before eventually falling to the Flames in 7 games in the Conference Finals.

None of that will matter when the puck drops at approximately 8:50 tonight, of course. The Stars won 11 of their last 18 games down the stretch to secure a Wild Card spot with 93 points in a brutal Central Division. They then went on to defeat the Division champion Nashville Predators in 6 games, finishing it off with a 3-2 Overtime thriller in Dallas last Monday night.

The Blues, of course, have taken a roller coaster ride of their own to end the season. We all have heard the soundbite by now – on January 3rd the Blues were 31st overall in the NHL with 34 points, but managed to go on a tear through the later half of the season which included a franchise-best 11 game winning streak from Jan. 23 – Feb. 19, an overall record of 12-1-1 in the month of February, and to top it off, won 8 of their last 10 to finish with 99 points and clinch a matchup with the Winnipeg Jets in the First Round of the Cup Playoffs. The Blues downed the Jets in six games, finishing off the series thanks to a Jaden Schwartz hat trick in Game 6 in a 3-2 win at Enterprise.

Berube Provides Identity to Club at Crucial Time

Of all the improbable characters to lead the charge of the Blues’ turnaround, perhaps none is more surprising than Interim Head Coach Craig Berube. (You can call him “Chief”). The veteran of over 1,000 career NHL games, Berube joined the Blues as an assistant after a stint as Head Coach of the AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves. He took the reins back in November after the Blues parted ways with then Head Coach Mike Yeo after a disappointing start to the season and seemingly mounting frustration from the locker room.

The transition from November to December revealed a team that once appeared to be packing it up for the season to one that, if nothing else, had a little bit of pride left to play for. As typical of coaching changes in several major sports, the players in the locker room seemed to use the beginning of the Craig Berube era as a wake-up call to save a season that appeared to be lost.

But it was a hard-fought 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on December 31st that seemed to truly be the turning point to set up the remarkable 30-10-5 run to end the year. Despite taking the ‘L’, the team appeared to be playing with more heart than in earlier months under Yeo. The Blues blasted 40 shots on goal, and only allowed 23 to be fired at Jake Allen. The defense seemed to be more composed, less panicked, and the team as a whole looked to be playing at a much more competitive level.

Berube earned a reputation during his playing days as a an enforcer – racking up over 3,000 penalty minutes in 1,054 career games. And his aggressive style as a player seemed to translate as a coach. Following the Rangers loss on New Year’s Eve, the Blues began playing a much harder, north-south style of hockey. As referenced during Blues radio and television broadcasts, Berube is said to stress the importance of winning one on one battles and “be aggressive in all three zones”. By placing a premium on being a heavy forechecking team, the Blues seemed to have found their identify in the back half of the season and into the postseason.


The Legend of Jordan Binnington

There’s not a whole lot that can be said about 25-year old Jordan Binnington that hasn’t already been addressed. The Blues’ new-found net-minder has been nothing short of spectacular over his 30 regular season starts and 6 playoff starts. But for all of you stats guys and girls out there, let’s do a quick rundown:

24-5-1 Regular Season Record

Winning Percentage 80%

Save% .927

GAA 1.89

5 Shutouts

Yes, his performance on the ice has been good enough to launch him into the discussion for the Calder Trophy. It’s been good enough for him to be dubbed the NHL First Star of the Week on February 11th after putting up just a silly stat line of 3-0-0 record / 1.31 GAA / .954 save percentage. But I am of the opinion that it’s his quirky, quiet but confident, “I-don’t-give-a-shit-I’ll-do-it-myself” attitude both on and off the ice that has propelled the team to get to the point they’re at now. Maybe I’m a little caught up in the fantasy here, but Binner appears to play with a confidence and an edge that Blues fans haven’t exactly been accustomed to seeing in the last – eh –  20 or so years. Now I’m not in the business of ripping Jake Allen, but for what it’s worth this hockey team has played very, very well with number 50 starting in net.

Binnington’s confidence and goal-stopping ability has built him into a bit of a folk hero in the minds of Blues fans.

His story of AHL afterthought to NHL elite is one of legend.

What will the next chapter of the story reveal?


Allow me to get all sentimental with you all, if you wouldn’t mind.

I’ve always found it funny to think about what I picture when I think about “home”. I’ve called two places “home” my entire life – St. Louis and Columbia, Missouri. Needless to say, I am not the world’s most decorated traveler. Having never lived outside of the same 125-mile strip of Missouri dirt, I’ve made some distinct memories around these parts.

Yet, if someone were to approach me at an airport bar and say “Tell me about your home”, I wouldn’t first picture the Gateway Arch perched above the mighty Mississippi…..or the six grand, white columns at the center of Francis Quadrangle…..I wouldn’t first picture the red brick, gingerbread-house-esque homes on the south side of St. Louis, or the white limestone halls of the University of Missouri’s campus…..I wouldn’t first picture the sea of red inside of Busch Stadium, or the Rock M housed in Memorial Stadium.

Instead, I picture myself, my parents and three siblings sitting atop a quilt in Forest Park. It’s summer. The air is warm and thick with humidity, and the six of us enjoy some Mom’s Deli sammies before the newest production at The Muny gets underway.

I cannot tell you why, but this image is what I see when I think about “home”. This scene became a summer tradition in my family, and Mom’s Deli earned a special place in my heart. But sentimental reasons aside, the Mom’s Special received the rank of my number one “go-to” sandwich during my high school years for it’s distinct taste and the feeling of absolute satisfaction with every visit.

Fast forward to 2016. I receive a hot tip on another sandwich spot just around the corner of Chippewa and Jamieson. A little lunch place not a half a mile from Mom’s Deli, but was said to be much, much better than Mom’s offerings. How could I have gone so long without ever stepping foot into this place? How have I never even heard of it? And it was at that moment in 2016, when I arrived at LeGrand’s Market & Catering, that I realized  I had been there many times before. I had been to TOM-BOY (This was the name drilled into my head from the red and white sign above the store’s front door) many times as a young tike with my Grandma (She’s a long-time neighbor) when she would do her grocery shopping. But this place surely was just a meat market, right? There’s no way they could offer a sandwich that could compete with Mom’s Deli, right?


My first visit to LeGrand’s in nearly two decades untapped my curiosity of sandwiches. I found myself returning to try a new offering of their 30+ custom-made sammies weekend after weekend. The juxtaposition of the classic cold-cut that is the Mom’s Special, and the seemingly never-ending variety of toasty hot sandwiches at LeGrand’s honestly inspired me to start this blog. Two sandwich shops. Both so unique in their offerings, and virtually next door neighbors made for about as compelling of a sandwich story that I could think of.

You may be thinking this is a little over the top. I mean we’re talking about freaking sandwiches here. But I would refer you to the DOZENS of individuals that I know personally who identify as upfront “Team LeGrand’s” or “Team Mom’s” persons. I’ve become such a fan of both eateries that I’ve never been able to choose one over the other. Which is what brings us here. Below will feature two sandwich reviews – one of Mom’s Deli and one of LeGrand’s. The items reviewed are my personal favorites from each deli, and both reviews were written objectively. The sandwich with the higher review will be named the winner of this blogger’s head-to-head competition. Let’s get started.

Vendor: Mom’s Deli

Sammie: Mom’s Special

Bread: French

Dine In/Carryout: Carryout


  • Turkey
  • Ham
  • Roast Beef
  • Munchee Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Pickle
  • Onion
  • Homemade 1000 Island

Tasting Notes

For those who may not have been to Mom’s Deli before, I strongly encourage you to make the drive to I-44 & Jamieson some time and stop in. If the cold cut sandwiches don’t excite you, come by and grab a bag of Red Hot Ripplets just to check the place out. From the outside, Mom’s could be mistaken for an oversized Lindenwood Park house like many in the surrounding blocks. The red Mom’s Deli and vintage Bud sign at the entrance, however, let you know that you have reached your destination.

A walk inside of Mom’s Deli is like a walk back in time. Once you make it through the door (Assuming there isn’t already a line forming out the door and down the porch) you’re met with coolers of pasta, whole racks of lunch meat, shelves of chips, snacks, beer and wine and yes, Ted Drewe’s. I would guess that you could find some of these same things in the exact same spot 40 years ago. As the line snakes its way to the sandwich counter photos of store’s founders, the Vago family, as well as friends, patrons and community supporters are rested high above the coolers and sandwich boards. The menu itself is not a video monitor but rather a vintage slide-in kind of board like one you might find in a grade school gym. Something about the board makes the experience feel a bit more authentic.

The Mom’s Special is a classic cold cut done differently. It all starts with bread, and Mom’s never seems to cut corners with their presentation of their French bread loafs. My initial takeaway is just how firm the bread of my Mom’s Special is. First bite offers the familiar crunch of the bread met with the unmistakeable roast beef flavor. Second bite and now we’re really dancing. Roast beef, turkey, ham and bread all in the forefront. And at the last moment, the sweet aroma of the munchee cheese kicks in. This cheese is honestly unlike any other that I’ve picked up at a deli. It’s soft – almost like a liquid in texture. It’s never the dominant flavor in any bit yet it compliments the lunch meat in such a way that’s unmistakable. The lettuce, tomato, onion and 1000 Island are in lock step with the meat and cheese for the next several bites. (Pro Tip: Ask for your 1000 island on the side so that you can spread it on your Mom’s Special equitably. You’ll be glad that you did.) 

The Special is just as satisfying as ever, however at the last few bites there seems to be a shortage of meat. My waning bites are just bread and 1000 island sauce, which is a slight disappointment to an otherwise top notch sammie.

Overall Rating: 4.6/5


Vendor: LeGrand’s Market & Catering

Sammie: Elbirdo

Bread: French

Dine In/Carryout: Carryout


  • Salsalito Turkey
  • Ham
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot Pepper Cheese
  • Provel Cheese (ADD ON)
  • Spicy Ranch
  • Garlic Cream Cheese (ADD ON)

Tasting Notes

Near the corner of Donovan Ave and Chippewa St in the Saint Louis Hills neighborhood, LeGrand’s is not your typical sandwich spot. Some might consider it a market first and deli second, as they offer a bevy of USDA choice raw meat and Boar’s Head deli meat as well as several other grocery items. Quite honestly, with the options of snacks, drink, produce and meat, I think you could survive an apocalypse inside this place. Unlike Mom’s the space is much larger and is accompanied by several rows of dry foods and a multiple coolers stacked side by side with almost anything imaginable.

The counter sits tall and stretches the length of the entire store. The further end is strictly meat market business while the end near the front door is where the sandwich magic is made. The employees – sometimes 8, 10 or 12 – will take individual orders to hand-make your selection from their generous sandwich menu. It can actually be a little intimidating making your choice. LeGrand’s has built a reputation off of a couple of standouts (i.e. the Legend Club) however, for this occasion I had to go with my gut and select one of my all-time favorites. Enter the Elbirdo.

The Elbirdo brings the element of spice that is absent from the Mom’s Special. As you’ll notice from the “ingredients” section, this thing is loaded with meats and soppings. Unlike the opposing munchee cheese, I notice the tangy provel upon the first bite. This cheese stands out to be sure, but the toasty ham and pepperoni are not missing either. I notice the bread, while toasted, still has a bit of softness in its center. The second bite brings the heat – garlic cream cheese (A LeGrand’s staple) is mixed in with pepperoni, salsalito turkey and spicy ranch. The turkey reminds me of a cayenne pepper kind of flavor. The pepper cheese contrasts with the provel in such a way that is unlike any sandwiches I’ve had the pleasure of eating.

Each passing bite seems the have a different flavor. The meats seems to be the boldest yet the cream cheese spread and spicy ranch tie it up in such a way that makes it truly unique. The most notable thing about this Elbirdo, however, is its consistency. Every bite feels equal parts meat, cheese, bread and soppings for an overall sublime eating experience. And it’s exactly what makes it the winner today.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5

So there you have it. The winner by the narrowest of margins is the Elbirdo from LeGrand’s! If these sandwiches were to play 10 times, they honestly might have gone 5-5. But today, the Elbirdo did just enough to be crowned champion. Thank you to both LeGrand’s and Mom’ Deli for giving the world such delicious sandwich treats, and for giving me the inspiration to create this incredibly silly content.

SANDWICH REVIEW #5: Adriana’s On The Hill

Do you remember going to see Santa at the mall as a little kid? The space around you is crowded with people. Everyone is standing in line and somewhat memorized by the decoration surrounding them. At the end of the line, a chance to ask for your heart’s greatest desires awaits.

Adriana’s On The Hill is like going to see Santa in sandwich form.

Since 1992, Adriana’s has been serving up dreams on a plate with their Sicilian-inspired fare, including pastas, salads and, yes, sandwiches. Located at the corner of Shaw and Hereford streets, the lunchtime eatery has earned the reputation as one of the most satisfying sandwich destinations in St. Louis — and believe me, they back it up, too.

As soon as one finds a parking space on the narrow city streets, the magic begins. It really isn’t a stretch to say that it feels like going to see Santa at times. The line is almost always to the door, or out the door, when walking in. As you wait in line, the sights of candy canes and Christmas trees are replaced by epic photos of the Mediterranean and signs with phrases such as “That’s Amore”. (Personal Note: I would describe the decor as an “Italian Beachhouse” vibe, if that existed.)

Finally, as one approaches the counter to repeat their wish list, they are greeted not by Santa but by the jolly face of the restaurant’s founder, Adriana Fazio, or one of her equally cheerful daughters. This time my mother, brother and I are greeted by Adriana’s daughter, Dianna, who could very well be the sweetest lady on the face of the earth. Just a few minutes later, Christmas had come with the sandwich I’d been dreaming about.


Vendor: Adriana’s On The Hill

Sammie: Gorgonzola Beef

Bread: Garlic Cheese Baguette

Dine In/Carryout: Dine In


  • Hot Roast Beef
  • Gorgonzola Cheese
  • Garlic Cheese Bread

Tasting Notes

Nobody said that you had to have all the ingredients to make a delicious sammie. This sub borrows the ingredients (Hot Roast Beef, Garlic Cheese Bread) from one of their menu classics, the Mary’s Special, and kicks it up 1000 notches with tangy Gorgonzola cheese. The initial standout in this sandwich lineup is the garlic cheese bread, which appears to be a cut from a French-sesame baguette (Probably form one of the many nearby bakeries that have become permanent fixtures on The Hill.)

A slight crunch can be felt upon the first bite. Even before diving into the warm-melty-rich-roasted goodness that is sandwiched between, you can just feel that this bread is fresh. Fresh, and consistent throughout the eating experience.

The garlic cheese flavor is present throughout. It doesn’t overpower the sammie, but rather sits in the background like a bass guitar riff in a classic rock song. The more notable flavor after the second bite is the roast beef. Extremely tender, served warm, and a perfect compliment to the garlic cheese baguette, beef this good is worth savoring. Yet, this sandwich is piled so high with beef that it feels like it never ends. And when you have flavors this strong and balanced, each bite truly is better than the last.


The top flavor performer of this sandwich squadron, however, is the sammie’s namesake, the Gorgonzola cheese. The menu board that lurks above the counter at Adriana’s describes the Gorgonzola as “Italian blue cheese”. I’m no cheese connoisseur, but I do know that this Gorgonzola is damn good. Placed atop the roast beef, the Gorgonzola is a crumbly heap of deliciousness that melts in your mouth upon impact. The flavor is strong, sharp, but soft. The texture compliments the slight crunch of the bread nicely. And the sharp flavor juxtaposed with the juicy roast beef is a slice of sandwich heaven. I don’t think I can ever go back to beef without it.

Overall Rating: 4.7/5