Tag Archives: Delis

Gioia’s Deli Chases Trend, Swallows Tail

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

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Filed under Restaurants, St. Louis, Theory and Criticism

Tour de Hamdel: Hobo Blues Edition

In the beginning was the NYPD.

Last time I lost my Philly Cheesesteak virginity. 

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

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Filed under Columbia University, Tour de Hamdel

Tour de Hamdel: Brotherly Love Edition

Tour de Hamdel is a national treasure.

Last time I had the Lewinsky.

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

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Tour de Hamdel: The Starr Report Edition

Tour de Hamdel two-ply.

Last time I wiped one more off the list: the Clinton. 

What I would like to discuss is how a roll of toilet paper changed my life. Continue reading


Filed under Columbia University, New York City, Tour de Hamdel

Tour de Hamdel: “It’s a Bad Sandwich, Stupid” Edition

An announcement of Tour de Hamdel candidacy.

Last time on the campaign trail: the Tuna Melt.

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

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Tour de Hamdel: Chicken of the Sea Edition, or Who Invented the Tuna Melt?

Allow me to introduce the Tour.

Last time I had the Gipper.

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


Filed under Columbia University, History, New York City, Tour de Hamdel

Tour de Hamdel: Knute Rockne, All American Edition

Here’s the playbook.

Last time I had the Jose Special.

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

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Filed under Columbia University, New York City, Tour de Hamdel