Gioia’s Deli has a blog. It’s sleek, attractive—more visually appealing than this blog in fact!—and seductive: “Psssst. . .Psst. . .Hey you. Gioia’s wants to hook you up. Join our Mailing List to receive great deals on great food. Just click the picture. Ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone its a secret [sic].” Besides “Al’s Blog,” which so far has detailed “The Gioia’s Deli Philosophy” (1/18/12), “A Day in the Life of a Boxed Lunch” (1/14/12), “Gioias is the Healthiest Option on The Hill” (1/3/12), and “What to get a foodie” (12/1/11), the website offers a “Gallery of Deliciousness.” Unable to resist, I clicked the link and browsed a collection of food porn thumbnails—no amateur shoots, only AVN quality stuff here. Clearly, Gioia’s has decided to bring the business into the 21st century; the deli’s streamlined web presence speaks to any number of contemporary restaurant trends, most obviously, foodie-ism and nutritionism. The desire to capture new market niches would not be so surprising if Gioia’s had not occupied the same plot at Macklind and Daggett for 94 years. Challie Gioia started a grocery there in 1918, and since 1980, the Donley family has operated the store as a deli. At the original grocery, Steve and Johnnie Gioia served “Salam de Testa” to the lunch crowd. Today, the Donleys call the Gioia recipe “Hot Salami”—they serve it on chewy blonde bread, and it has attracted attention from St. Louis foodie rags like Feast. The “Hot Salami” is an excellent sandwich and deserves all the praise it has received. Nevertheless, the disconnect between Gioia’s web identity and its physical reality is disconcerting. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Delis
If you have ever wanted to eat chicken cordon bleu on a sandwich—and you probably have, since a sandwich is cordon bleu gone convenient, edible sans knife and fork while stooped on a street corner feasting among the salary men and flannel—Hamdel can satisfy your desire. The Cordon Blue—not a typo—includes a chicken cutlet or two, thin-sliced ham, mozzarella, and blue cheese dressing. All stuffed into a toasted hero. Great heavy, heaving hearts! Trapped under thick bedsheets of yellow fat! Midterms are upon us, and yet, times have not turned desperate enough to justify a Cordon Blue dinner. Respect your health and pick a different poison. Continue reading
I have spent a day in Philadelphia without sampling a single cheesesteak. In fact, prior to this evening, I had never eaten a Philly cheesesteak, authentic or otherwise. Although I consider myself an aficionado of America’s rustiest, crustiest cuisines, the prospect of beef shards smothered in government cheese ties my duodenum in knots. I never sought out the cheesesteak, and one never found its way into my hungry hands. The Tour de Hamdel is, however, merciless—its nauseating path forces encounters with your very personal, very horrible culinary nightmares. Despite my initial hesitations, I am happy to report that Hamdel’s Philly Cheesesteak, if far removed from the “City of Brotherly Love,” is not an entirely unpleasant sandwich. Continue reading
What I would like to discuss is how a roll of toilet paper changed my life. Continue reading
I watched PCU while running on the treadmill and don’t remember much besides George Clinton’s appearance at a Port Chester University kegger. If only parties at Columbia could hijack Parliament-Funkadelic for impromptu concerts. Alas, we’re stuck with a nightmare set of top 40 hits. After attending one too many Parties in the U.S.A., I swore off frat row. To revise, after suffering through one “Party in the U.S.A.” playlist, I abandoned the possibility of entertainment along 114th Street. Operation Ivy League turned a once greasy skeezing block into a ghost town. Tumbleweed substitutes for empty beer cases on the street corner; bustiered harlots no longer beckon from Campo’s swinging saloon doors. It’s a quiet semester at Columbia so far—we badly need Mr. Wiggles to make the Mothership Connection. We want George Clinton. Someone start a write-in campaign. Continue reading
I was sitting on a bench by Morningside Park, eating my Hamdel Tuna Melt and enjoying the unseasonably cool weather, when a lingering question turned into an obsession. Who invented the tuna melt? Tuna salad griddled with cheese between bread seems like a simple concept, but at some far removed point in the mists of American history, some hitherto anonymous chef decided to conduct a sandwich experiment. After I finished my lunch, I set out to uncover the tuna melt’s story. Continue reading
Knute Rockne, All American is the stuff sports dreams are made of. In the film’s most famous scene, legendary Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne inspires his team with a quote from George Gipp: “sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper.” Continue reading
The Jose Special. You know what it is, right? It’s that thing where Jose Canseco comes up to you in the locker room waggling a big needle and offers to give you an injection you won’t ever forget. In his controversial memoir Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big, Canseco talks about his own steroid use, and then starts naming names. It’s as predictable as a Mark McGwire home run circa 1998—that one handed backswing caught many a camera flash. Canseco claims he shot up teammates Rafael Palmeiro, Juan Gonzalez, and Ivan Rodriguez with anabolic steroids. The Jose Special made baseball exciting for a new generation of fans. I remember following McGwire’s ’98 streak—as a second grader, the world of professional baseball seemed populated by mythical heroes, giants that rose above the ranks of mere mortals. When McGwire broke Roger Maris’s single season home run record with a steroid-powered blast that ricocheted off the upper deck, I probably sacrificed a bull to Zeus. Continue reading
On October 30, 2002, a mesothelioma-stricken Warren Zevon appeared on Letterman one last time. He played a few songs, talked with Dave for about 10 minutes, and made an inconspicuous exit from the public eye. Of course, Zevon never enjoyed the pop stardom of his peers. Despite hit albums like Excitable Boy, he labored in relative obscurity. Critically but not commercially successful, Zevon was the consummate rock poet, a fringe figure whose quirky tunes never connected with the Billboard charts.
“Do you know something about life and death that maybe I don’t know now?” Letterman asked Zevon. “Not unless I know how much you’re supposed to enjoy every sandwich,” Zevon replied. I won’t try to directly explicate Zevon’s comment. What follows is an implicit explanation grounded in a humble Hamdel hero.
This week, I was scheduled to eat the Cheese Tease: American, Swiss, Muenster, and Provolone cheese with lettuce, tomato, pickles, oil, and vinegar. Continue reading
When I first tried the Stallone, I knew that the Balboa would eventually follow. Sure, maybe the name refers to Vasco Nunez de Balboa, conquistador extraordinaire—but the hero’s ingredients give its namesake away: chicken cutlet, ham, and melted Provolone? A sandwich fit for the Italian Stallion. If Rocky trained on a diet of Hamdel sandwiches, however, the Balboa wouldn’t make an appearance—too oily, too dry, and not nearly enough panache. Continue reading