Wanting something other than what was waiting for me in the communal fridge, I headed to the Italian Bakery (10646 97 Street), hoping it would live up to the fantastic review in Vue Weekly two months ago.
Italian Bakery & Delicatessen
A modest line greeted me at the deli counter. A number slip indicated I was just three away from a custom sandwich built the way I wanted – and cheaper than the average supermarket pre-packed variety. A small (with 1 meat and 1 cheese) is just $2.50, a medium (with up to 2 meats and 1 cheese) is priced at $3, while a large (with 2 meats and 1 cheese) is $5, all garnished with either mayo, mustard, or vegetable spread and banana peppers if so desired. Saran wrapped for no hassle travel, it would be the perfect sandwich to take on a picnic, or in my case, provide a reprieve from a lunch of weekday leftovers.
The time in line was actually a blessing in disguise, as it gave me some breathing room to decide which meat and cheese combination I wanted to try. After some deliberation, I chose chicken breast and German butter cheese to be paired with vegetable spread. One of the three behind-the-counter deli ladies (each with their own individual slicing machines) efficiently took my order and assembled my sandwich. I marvelled at how all of the employees were so cheery and friendly despite the growing crowd of hungry customers.
Also prompted by the review, I asked for a single slice of tiramisu ($2.50). With my meal ready, I snagged one of the three tables situated against the window (great for people watching) and dug in.
Small sandwich and tiramisu
The freshness of the bread was apparent, and with the accoutrements, it made me wonder why I had ever made a fuss over Pret a Manger‘s looks-better-than-it-tastes paper and plastic-encased sandwiches. As for the cake, the bottom half of the tiramisu was exactly what I was expecting – a coffee-soaked layer of homemade ladyfingers accented with a rich marscapone cream. My only wish was for the top half to have had an equal amount of spongy coffee goodness, instead of a dry cookie layer as it was.
While I can’t definitively say the Italian Bakery has the best meal deal in the area, it would at the very least find a place on the podium of values.