Cardone’s: The Little Deli That Should

http://blogging.la/archives/images/2007/06/IMG_8931-thumb.jpgBack in January when Cardone’s opened up a couple doors down from Dusty’s on Sunset Boulevard, there was rejoicing around these here Silver Lake parts. Promising homemade cheeses and the finest in Italian sammich fare, Cardone’s seemed poised to fill the vacant neighborhood Italian deli niche quite nicely and my wife and I wasted little time giving them a try. In doing so we came away pretty much pleased with the goodness of the food, if not very impressed with either its proportions or the stark, refrigerator-dominated interior accented with folding chair seating and a marked sparcity of ambience that screamed “take out” a lot louder than it did “hang out.”

So why wait almost five months to give the place a looksee? Well, it was triggered by my wife making her first return visit this past weekend and while this might draw fire and ire, the reason for the wide interval between trips is because I’m a cheap bastard. Plain and simply the prices are too high for sammiches too small to make me any sort of regular customer. Their Iow-end Caprese sammich is $7.25, with their Burrata Caprese coming in at $9.25. On the panini side, a grilled cheese is $6.75 and their Prosciutto is $9, with most of their regular deli sammies coming in around $8.25 (exceptions: tuna salad, $6.75; cheese, $7.25).

If that kinda coin sounds totally reasonable then good for you and go enjoy. But when I can roll a couple miles toward downtown to the fabled Eastside Market and get their enough-for-two Roast Beef, Pastrami and Cheeser for $6.30, Cardone’s creations — though fresh and tasty and authentic — can’t help but pale in comparison.

Having said that, I’m glad to see Cardone’s is still here, especially having driven by often these past few months to find it barren of any patronage. But that seems to have changed of late, even if the interior space is still just as “to go” as it’s always been. A price cut or larger portions would bring me back more often, and on the internut end it certainly couldn’t hurt business if they got a real website instead of just this MySpace thing. After the jump are a few more pix from inside the shop and of some of what relatively little you get for the money they charge.

Cardone’s Italian Deli, 3206 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles 90026; 323/906-9080. Hours: Monday/Wednesday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Sunday: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; closed Tuesday. Free delivery.

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The Prosciutto panini — $9

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Caprese sandwich — $7.25

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Capicolla & Provolone — $8.25

12 Replies to “Cardone’s: The Little Deli That Should”

  1. That doesn’t look so hot.

    And the prices seem to be the usual “Hey it’s LA, what do you expect?”

    I went to the Farmer’s Market in Hollywood this weekend and got the same feeling. The “home grown” feeling just felt manufactured for yuppie willing to pay too much for the pagentry.

  2. Does he make his own cheese? He used to sell the fresh mozzerella at the farmers market. I’m guessing that’s part of the price, craftsmanship.

    (I really want a canolli now.)

  3. I’ve also been underwhelmed. Bread that’s not exactly stale, but not exactly fresh. All the meats seem to be domestic Christopher Columbus brand like you get at Trader Joe’s.

    I hope the next joint in that spot is better. I have a feeling it won’t be long until we find out.

  4. Cybele, I believe the cheeses are all his making. I know he sells the mozarella and buratta by the pound. I believe the meatballs are made fresh, too, and not available every day.

    Cardone’s advertises their made to order canollis as “stuffed by experts” with “fresh-made canolli cream.” YUMMY. Small ones are $1.50 and large are $3 and they’re sold by the half-dozen and dozen, also.

  5. I’ve never been to Cardone’s and I’ve been out of the food industry for over ten years, but prosciutto is significanly more expensive than the finest pastramis and roast beefs, as real proscuitto (if this is) only comes from Italy, and, properly, Parma, Italy. There are any number of fine makers of what places like Eastside seem to sell (based on the pictures on their site) here in the US.

    Similar economies apply to fresh mozzarella, although to actually buy fresh buffalo mozzarella from Italy is REALLY expensive; on the order of $10 for about 1/4 lbs. Local, hand-made cow’s milk mozzarella is cheaper, but not anywhere as cheap as the mass market stuff most sandwich places sell.

    Cardone’s may indeed be pricing out customers, but if they’re making sandwiches with real proscuitto and real, hand made fresh mozzarella, the price comparison to other shops that don’t use the same ingredients doesn’t seem fair. Apples to apples and all that…

  6. The prosciutto is from parma is is really high quality. He does make the mozz and the meatballs fresh which are fantastic on a meatball sandwich. The Five Families sandwich which has a bunch of meat and cheese is also great. The cannolis are good too as is the coffee.
    I love the place, and compared to the deli sandwiches you’d get elsewhere in the neighborhood ( and compared to the horrible restaurant a couple of doors down…cough…Dusty’s…) it is totally reasonably priced.

  7. of course the obvious question is why go to cardone’s when you can go to the cheese store of silver lake 5 mnutes away? AND get a (pazzo) gelato AND walk around those cute shops.

  8. p.s. on the other hand, as pieter noted above, not fair to compare cardone’s prosciutto to eastside market’s roast beef. jeez, with friends like will, cardone’s doesn’t need enemies!

  9. Pieter provides some nice details in regards to Cardone’s ingredients and makes a fine point in me perhaps unfairly comparing Cardone’s gustatory masterpieces to Eastside Market’s blue-collar fare, so allow me to clarify the basises (basii?) for my critique: not only am I cheap bastard, but an unsophisticated one as well.

    Put Cardone’s capicolla & provolone sammie for $8.25 side by side with Eastside Market’s roast beef and pastrami and cheese deal for $6.30 in front of me and I’m gonna dig into the latter and not care if that capicolla was brought forth from pigs pampered by the pope and handwashed in holy water or the provolone was air-dropped in from Italy that morning.

    I certainly wasn’t bagging on the quality of the food at Cardone’s, which is wonderful, and like I said if it’s worth it more power to ya..

    P.S. Just calling ’em as I see ’em Trixy.

  10. CARDONES is FANTASTIC! slightly steep price wise but as for quality it’s at least twice as good as eastside or silverlake cheese shop fare. i like all three of these establishments but i was shocked with the care and quality of CARDONE’s ingredients. you get what you pay for and i hope they do well.

  11. i guess i’m more the type of person who is immediately suspicious of any place serving giganto proportions, as it inevitably means the food is crap. i lived in pittsburgh for four years, and this lesson was driven home every g-d day, so i’m more than willing to forgive a place that uses good ingredients and serves sustainable sized portions that don’t contribute to the fat-ass epidemic. coincidentally, i went to cardone’s for the first time tonight, after driving by i don’t know how many times. ran in the door at 7:55, as they were closing up. the meat and cheese are definitely very good, but the bread they use really doesn’t do it justice – i know it was the end of the day, and maybe the ciabatta is better, but the hero bread is very chewy & heavy and overwhelms the light, fresh taste of the mozarella. the prosciutto is very tasty, and that alone will keep me going back. also, they deliver to echo park, which is a major bonus.

  12. I think it’s overpriced for the quality. The cold cuts are the exact same brand they sell at Trader Joe’s – I can’t justify spending $9 on something I could cobble together at home. Plus the array of offerings isn’t very impressive. No artichokes? C’mon!

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