Restaurant: Heroic Deli
Location: 516 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401. (310) 490-0202
Date: January 10, 2018 and September 2, 2019
Rating: Very good, if pricey, sandwich
Heroic Deli is a new entry into the Santa Monica lunch scene by Adam Fleischman (my ex biz partner) and Jeffrey Merrihue. It’s putting the modern spin on the Italian American “hoagie” concept.
They took over the old Real Food Daily / Erven space on Santa Monica Blvd.
Pretty old building — no parking at all.
Besides the sandwiches (and a few salads) they have a small but nice Italian wine list. Not that very many people are going to order wine during the day with their sub.
This is a weird space, divided into two halves, each of which has a separate loft. The build out is attractive though.
Here’s the main side loft.
In the back half (what used to be the main restaurant part at Erven) is this gorgeous table and a sort of wine bar concept. Not sure that I get it without the bar tender though. But again the decor is cool.
Hand painted Zodiac ceiling.
Zeus lightning bolt panel, etc.
Here’s Jeffrey, who like me at Ramen Roll is very hands on operationally.
The short but sweet menu.
Housemade potato chips and Italian Corn pie (corn, eggs, cream, green onions, salt & pepper).
The chips had a perfect texture, with that slightly “charred” taste that real housemade potato chips often have.
The corn pie was lightly sweet, on the borderline between sweet and savory, soft and fluffy with an interesting texture.
Eggplant Parmesan. The Heroic version is sautéed and then baked, but not breaded. It’s vegetarian and gluten free and quite excellent.
The OMG Sandwich. Imported Italian Prosciutto, capocollo, mortadella, porchetta, smoked mozzarella, artichokes, roasted tomatoes, house made giardinera, mustard, truffle mayo.
They make the bread and it was very good. Crunch, but also with good spring and not so hard/chewy that it scratched my mouth (which I hate). The sandwich was meaty, but not super meaty, with a very strong and lovely acidity from the tomatoes and giardinera (vinegar pepper sauce). It’s not huge and it is $15 which is a lot for a hoagie. It tasted great and didn’t give me heartburn (which some traditional Italians will). This is a very modern riff on the classic Italian hoagie. If you look at a world’s best “classic style” one like at Sarcone’s (Philadelphia), this has a LOT more condiment. Probably it actually tastes better too, but it isn’t as “cold cut” or “provolone” forward as the classic.
They also have fabulous Calabrian pepper paste which I was using as a dip for my potato chips. Warning, only do this if, like me, you think this looks “no big deal” (spice wise).
Batista. Fresh flash fried, summer zucchini, Italian bufala mozzarella, parsley, garlic, white wine vinegar. With added prosciutto. Also a very good sandwich. The zucchini, which I don’t even normally like, was nice and crispy with a bit of a pesto taste that married perfectly with the mozzarella and (added) prosciutto.
I also had a Scala (not pictured). Chef Barbara’s braised short ribs, sauteed peppers, smoked mozzarella, caramelized onions. Very delicious as well.
I’ll have to come back and try some of the other sandwiches — my low carb diet is just making it hard. Passing out to customers the other varieties looked good. Delicious in fact. You can tell that each is seriously crafted out of great ingredients. Now, is there a big market in Santa Monica for double price Italian slightly small subs that actually ARE better than the cheaper versions? Can that cover the high Santa Monica rent? That I don’t know. But I do know that I personally find it worth the extra few bucks for a better sandwich.