Monday, August 23, 2010
Meatball Wars Part 1: Daves Chillin and Grillin vs Bay Cities Deli
Daves Chillin and Grillin.
The stoner vibe feels right at home in this funky Eagle Rock neighborhood. A withered Red Sox cap sported by head honcho assures some sort of East Coast authority, tevas suggest Bachelor of Arts from Boulder(Colorado University) or the University of Vermont
On to the meatballs.
My first test is the "is it as big as my forearm method?"
This sandwich is a true torpedo. Incredibly long. As a result the sandwich holds its composure as you bite down. One does not run out of bread towards the end but its not for a lack of meatballs. Dave's loads his subs up with plenty of small round meatballs but they are available in limited supply. After ordering a 10 inch they declared they were "out for the day" - at 1pm on a Saturday no less.
In addition to the meatballs, Daves' lays on a nice sweet red sauce and pairs it with a subtle but potent spicy pepper spread along with some mozzarella. The baguette isn't winning any awards here but is more than competent at delivering a solid meatball experience. The meatballs are nice moist due to a breadcrumb mixture but are not tempting enough to say order on their own. This sandwich does strike a very good balance of savory, sweet and heat and I seriously doubt you will be able to put this one down till the very last bite.
I can't call Dave's Chillin and Grillin the best meatball sub in the city but I would easily go back for another. And more importantly I would go back and try their other sandwiches, most notably the hot roast beef which may be Los Angeles' answer to Chicago's Italian beef.
Bay Cities Deli
Easily the most talked about deli in town, and rightfully so. They have the best bread, a huge and varied cased meats selection and plenty of loyal fans . . . which is probably why the last time you craved a mortadella sub it took you 45 minutes to get one to go.
They have great meatballs. On a prior visit I was moved by the prepared foods section so much, I had to get something to munch on. I opted for these dangerous little balls of coarse ground meat, seasoned up to the nines yet stone cold. And I could not get enough of them. To me a perfect meatball is a combination of meats, textures and herbs. Now keep in mind these meatballs are NOT the ones used in their sub but the recipe is still the same.
Result: Pass. Though not as long as Daves' it was a bit wider.
The secret of the ooze. I like opening up a sandwich and seeing the sauce bleed through the wrapper. A meatball sub can be many things but restraint should not be one of them.
The sauce is sweet and tangy, more tangy than Daves'. The meatballs are big moist and savory. The bread is incredible here, chewy like a croissant, fresh like sourdough in San Francisco. What is lacking here is anything else on the sandwich, I give credit to Daves' for adding the spicy pepper salad in his sandwich and gooey mozzarella, all I got at Bay Cities was meat, sauce and bread.
There are hints of shaved Parmesan on the sandwich though hard to really see here. I guess a good Meatball sub doesn't need a lot more than meatballs, sauce and bread but it doesn't hurt it either.
Fennel buried in a massive meatball. That's what gives Bay Cities their edge.
The Bottom Line:
Bay Cities wins with their bread alone, even better for a hot saucy sub than the cold cut sandwich. Also I'm feeling full after half . . . yet I still muster the strength to finish the whole thing.