Pastrami on Rye Sandwich (credit: Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
The local deli has long served as a hotbed of neighborhood activity. While originally drawn in by the traditional sandwich counter, many folks return for the family atmosphere and hand-crafted specialties. The Bay Area is home to a number of well-loved community delis specializing in everything from ravioli to matzo ball soup. Here are five of the best delicatessens in the Bay Area.
373 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
A San Francisco institution dating back to 1896, Molinari’s has long been North Beach’s premier delicatessen. This fourth generation family-run business specializes in house-made cured dry salames and coppa, as well as pancetta and fresh sausages. The deli also offers a line of cooked products including mortadella and the wine and pistachio spiked Galantina. Locals flock here in droves at lunchtime to grab a quick reliably delicious sandwich for under $10. Sandwiches showcasing homemade ingredients include the Renzo Special with coppa, prosciutto, sun dried tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, and the Sicilian sausage sandwich replete with garlic and wine sauteed peppers and onions.
5095 Telegraph Ave.
Oakland, CA 94609
Another family-owned Bay Area establishment closing in on 100 years of business, Oakland’s Genova Delicatessen is a traditional deli as well as ravioli factory. The menu offers up a tantalizing variety of Italian sandwiches ranging from prosciutto with grilled eggplant and mozzarella to the loaded salame, prosciutto, mortadella, provolone, roasted pepper and marinated mushroom sandwich. After grabbing a sandwich for lunch, check out the pasta offerings and snag something to bring home for dinner. Genova cranks out everything from a meat and cheese ravioli and tortellini to gnocchi, fresh sauces and lasagna.
Village Court Shopping Center
4540 El Camino Real
Los Altos, CA 94022
After the original Mountain View location succumbed to a fire in 2011, Dittmers has seen a resurgence of business after reopening just down the road in Los Altos. The old-fashioned butcher is a German-style wurst haus and deli. Customers come to Dittmers to find all manner of fresh meats ranging from the common chicken, turkey, lamb and beef to the harder-to-find quail, pheasant, venison and elk. Pop in for a quick meal of house-smoked sausage and German potato salad, or craft a sandwich from the deli’s vast lunch meat options.
1319 Lincoln Ave.
San Jose, CA 95125
Open five days a week, Tuesdays through Saturdays, Bertucelli’s La Villa is a full service Italian deli. Nestled in the heart of Willow Glen, Bertucelli’s has been serving its customers for close to 70 years. Deli options include everything from meatball, chicken parmesan and tri tip sandwiches to salads and smoked salmon. Check out the cold salads case to scoop up mussels by the pound or fresh olives and caponata. Ever popular with locals is Bertucelli’s ravioli, with filling options including beef, feta cheese and lobster.
3150 24th St.
San Francisco, CA 94110
Open at its 24th Street location since 2012, Wise Sons Delicatessen lovingly crafts a variety of Jewish comfort foods. With doors open seven days a week, Wise Sons is dedicated to the in-house production of ingredients, including their freshly baked rye and smoked meats. Stop in for a breakfast of challah French toast or corned beef hash, or a later nosh of smoked trout salad sandwich or matzo ball soup. Make sure to order the pastrami cheese fries, or grab some rugelach for the road.
Joanna Metheny is a freelance writer covering all things South Bay. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.