Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Giordano Bros.


Rambling through the streets of North Beach, it’s easy to find a sweet sidewalk café or some fancy fine dining. Little did I know that there would be an awesome bar/sandwich joint in the heart of this Italian neighborhood. It was Friday night, and I received news that one of my favorite local bands, The Sacred Profanities, was playing at Giordano Bros. After checking out their web site, I became privy to their “all-in-one” sandwich and thought “what a better place for my food blogging adventure to begin?”.

My friend, Chloe, and I cruised into the dim bar and were greeted with winks from the band and welcoming smiles from the staff. We quickly got cozy on a couple of seats at the bar with an all-encompassing view of the band, chalkboard menu, and prep station/bar. The band was awkwardly located right by the front door with the band members split in half by the door and walk way. This was not my favorite for being able to view the band, but worked for the venue, and the awkwardness seemed to fade away as the night went on. The Mexican cook noticed me eying him as he prepped a sandwich, and immediately came over to check to see if I needed anything. I speak Spanish and love using it whenever I get the chance, so I instantly started chatting it up with him. I ordered a Fat Tire ($5) and asked him what was the favorite sandwich. He recommended the coppa. I was leaning toward the pastrami, but I always find it’s worth trying the house recommendation first. 

After ordering, I eased forward on my barstool, chin in hands, investigating the process in which this special sandwich is created. The “all-in-one” sandwich is a Pittsburgh specialty dating back 70 years and some change. The Pittsburgh born owners opened Giordano Bros. in attempt to bring a taste of home to their new home of San Francisco. The sandwich consists of your choice of meat, melted cheese, oil and vinegar coleslaw, and thick, fresh french fries. I’m getting excited just thinking about it. The sandwich is prepared by starting with the thinly sliced coppa on the grill, then topped with cheese, melted just enough. The combo is then placed on thick slices of fresh French bread, followed by piping hot fries, and the simple coleslaw.

At this point, the anticipation is thriving inside me, along with the hunger and absolute curiosity. When the sandwich is delivered, I can’t help but salivate in its glory, and of course, order a fresh beer for the meal. However, I have two looming thoughts of doubt. 1. How in the hell am I going to eat this without getting food all over my face? 2. Why are the only condiment options ketchup and hot sauce (Crystal brand). Let me explain this one. I am a condiment whore. If there is a sauce, I want to try it. I want to try every combination of them. And when it comes to sandwiches, I am ready to sauce it up. As I am pondering my sauce options, or lack there of, my eyes turn to the “Answers to your Q’s” chalkboard to my left that states in answer number 8 “This sandwich has been made the same way for over 70 years, so we recommend you don’t try to change it.” I guess it’s time for me to consider going straight on my saucy, whorish ways; at least at Giordano Bros.

I leaned in for my first bite with all expectations for the entire masterpiece to crumble between my fingers. The bread is fresh, and slightly toasted, which is perfect for me because I hate it when toasted bread cuts up the roof of your mouth. My teeth journey through the soft bread, peppery slaw, fresh cut potatoes, and finally the tender meat-cheese layer. All these flavors stampede into my mouth leaving me a lowly minion subservient to all that is the “all-in-one”. Plus, at my pleasant surprise, the sandwich is still in tack in my limp fingers.  Thank God (or whatever you believe), because as soon as I come to, post-swoon, I am ready to go in for another bite. The balance of the elements of the sandwich impressed me; no flavor more overbearing than the next. The most prominent flavor throughout was the peppery coppa and slaw. I, of course, could not let my sauce addiction die so quickly, so I tried a bite or two with ketchup, and then with hot sauce, and I gotta tell you, those Giordano Bros. have it right, the best way to eat the sandwich is straight up.

The night continued with beer, dancing, service with a smile and music, all saturated with the euphoria of post-sandwich bliss. Oh yeah, and the sandwich only costs $7.25, and even less for some of the other meats. I almost went back on Saturday to get some more of the action. I can’t wait until next time.

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