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Value Vino

Fast foodie: Zito's Deli

Photo: Erik Gustafson, License: N/A

Erik Gustafson

The Italian on white from Zito's Deli.

It's fitting the 4 Wheel Parts store is adjacent to Zito's Deli. Potholes capable of consuming small children and destroying large tires riddle the 8800 Broadway shopping center's lot. But that doesn't stop people from getting their lunchtime fix at Zito's. Hell, if they had to, I'm confident its loyal clientele would switch to a Jeep just to ensure their stomachs were satisfied. When I sit at the narrowly arranged tables I can hear the conversations of fellow diners. Maybe it's just another sign of customer loyalty, but their conversations often seem to include Zito's as the subject. For example, the two women preparing to leave, "Remember when they used to have the 'No Refill' sign?" Or the gentlemen seated to my left, one telling the other, "I'm glad we got a table before they were all gone."

Open since 1974, this family-owned deli has prided itself on hot sandwiches with simple names (Small, Large) outfitted with freshly made bread, white or wheat. Owner Brad Zito, whose mother and father started the business, said he's made a concerted effort to keep things the way they were handed to him. The flagship Serious Sandwich is available in whole or half sizes, served on Italian flatbread with salami, two types of ham, provolone, cheddar, olives, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce. For my money, the Serious isn't their best sandwich because it lacks their best ingredient — the hot, fluffy, crumbly bread. Instead, you get a cracker with meat and entirely too much lettuce. Although you could make a side salad out of the lettuce scraps that fall with each bite.

Newcomers will probably look most inquisitively at their sandwich's side item: a sample portion of pinto beans (the Serious gets a pickle). Zito's mother, a native Texan, wanted a starch served alongside, so beans it is. My suggestion: go with the Italian on white. The salami, capicolla, prosciuttini, and ham form a solid base, the provolone cheese is melted perfectly, and while tomatoes can be bland, the Italian dressing invigorates their flavor.

Trivia: the original Zito's menu included the Ladies Delight, served on English muffins purchased from the neighboring Piggly Wiggly. One day during the lunch rush, a woman ordered a dozen Ladies Delights, but as muffins only come in packs of eight, they had to rush out for more. Zito's mother decided after that to ax the muffins and eventually Zito's brother successfully lobbied to change the name to Ladies and Gents Delight to prevent deterring male customers.

Busy or not, you'll be in and out in 30 minutes or less. Unless, of course, you see a familiar face.

Zito's Deli

8800 Broadway, Ste 108
(210) 826-4793

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