“What’s your most popular sandwich?” I asked the guy behind the counter at Gioia’s Deli in Creve Coeur. (Gioia’s is pronounced Joy-ya’s),
“It’s the Hot Salami,” he said without hesitation and a bit of pride. “It won a James Beard Foundation award.”
Wow, I was impressed already, but the sandwich looked huge. I hesitated.
“Get the half sandwich, half salad,” he suggested.
“On white, whole wheat, or garlic cheese?”he asked. I went with the latter.
“Provel, pepper jack, Mozzarella or Swiss?”
Showing my non-St. Louis roots, I skipped the provel and went with the mozzarella.
His task complete, he passed my warm salami and cheese to the guy at the end of the counter.
Gioia’s salami is ground fresh from pork snouts and beef and sliced to order. Bread, cheese, and condiments are sourced on The Hill within a few blocks of the original Gioia’s. Once a grocery store, that later turned deli, the building is said to have been built with bricks and wood from the 1904 World’s Fair.
Topping Off the Sandwich
I pondered all this history, as I moved toward the next sandwich handler at the end of the counter.
“Toppings?” he asked, pointing to an array of possibilities.
“Which do you suggest?”
“All of ’em!”
“Let’s go for it,” I said.
“Sauce?” he asked, hovering over the creation with a squirt bottle.
Handing me the heavily-wrapped sandwich and a carryout carton filled with salad, the sandwich man pointed me toward the checkout counter near the door.
Tables in the window were full, but there were places turning over at the high counters in the center of the room. I wiggled my way aboard one of the stools (never a pretty sight) and Cyndy joined me after getting her roast beef half n’ half.
When I’m in a new restaurant, I tend to look around to see how the layout, menu, colors, logo, and service might be improved. It’s just a game I play in my head. At Gioia’s, I though it might be smoother to have the order line nearer the entrance. But I soon dismissed the idea as I turned my full attention to the magnificence of that Hot Salami! No changes needed there! It was perfection no matter where the line began.
I concluded that, like Crushed Red, after you’ve been to Gioia’s a few times, you master the system and are even able to help confused first timers.
Put this family-owned, Italian deli on your list.
Gioia’s Deli: LOCATIONS: The Hill, 1934 Macklind at Daggett, open: Mon-Sat 10a-4p; Downtown: 903 Pine Street, open: Mon-Fri 10:30a-2:30p; Creve Coeur, 623 N. New Ballas, open: Mon-Sat 10a-4p.
Owners: Alex and Amanda Donley; Catering Manager:Kelsey@gioiasdeli.com