Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Lucia's Deli

A few days ago, a friend and I were discussing legit sandwiches in Chicago. He mentioned the Yale Special at Lucia and practically started salivating. He pretty much swore by it, quoting it as his go-to sandwich. And, being the ever-curious claim evaluator that I am, I decided to check it out for myself. The fact that it was just a short bike ride away certainly didn't hurt either...

The deli counter carried your basic mom and pop feel with a touch of liberalism in the 8-dollar Obama bill in the bottom left-hand corner of the hand-drawn chalkboard menu. I ordered the 9-inch Yale Special for $7.25 and sat at one of the wooden tables in the relaxed rectangular dining hall. Two cool murals and a handful of Italian-themed photoboards framed the bright space and strange musical selections like europop and John Mayer alternated.

The sandwich itself was very clean, tasty and filling and the free bag of Jays potato chips didn't hurt either. The french bread was soft, fluffy, and chewy. It wasn't flaky at all and I think its robust volume provided a too heavy bread-to-ingredients ratio. The components, though, were strong to quite strong. The tomatoes and basil were fresh, the delicate and thin prosciutto slices were salty, and the bocconcini - a cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes - was soft, mild and refreshing; it played the perfect supporting role in the sandwich. If the mayo was indeed a "pesto mayo", then it had the most subtle pesto taste of all time. I certainly couldn't detect the pesto...

At the end of my meal, after tripping on my shoelace, I spoke briefly with the kind owner who offered me an interesting tidbit about the unique source of Lucia's bread. Apparently, Lucia uses a private purveyor who was trained in the traditional style of Italian breadmaking. He is a veteran dough puncher who travels back to Italy on a regular basis to keep up with the authentic practices and best techniques.

Lucia's Deli is an excellent Italian deli sandwich destination and apparently Lucia's Ristorante is a great place to catch a dinner with some friends. It's BYOB and moderately priced.

Back or Forth? I will be going back.

Lucia's Deli - Wicker Park - (773)292-9700 - 1825 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60622 - Public transportation: Damen stop of the Blue Line or bus 72.

Yale sandwich (9 inch) - $7.25

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