Not too long ago I decided to make Roma Market in Pasadena the center of my 7 Year Blogiversary. Yet, what it is really known for is something simply called “The Sandwich.” It doesn’t go by any other name because it doesn’t need to — after all, its maker (Rosario Mazzeo) has been dishing the thing out by the hundreds since perhaps the beginning of time. It was only a matter of time before I would make it mine.
Because Mazzeo spends the whole day putting together sandwiches, there is simply a stack of sandwiches neatly wrapped in pink paper waiting to be picked up. I grabbed mine and brought it the short way home to try a true institution. But before I go any further, I should probably let you know that this sandwich is essentially made just for an unvegan. There are absolutely no veggies and it includes three meats – salami, mortadella and capicola (although these are rumored to be in flux) – plus provolone and olive oil on a semi-soft roll. That is literally it.
And it is truly the personification of simplicity as perfection. The meats (which are all imported from Italy) work in holy harmony with one another, not jostling for position, but synergizing. They are sliced thin enough to be easy to bite through and don’t slip and slide off of each other. The bread is basic, allowing its contents to shine while keeping your hands clean.
How does it compare to the Godmother at Bay Cities? That’s a tough, but inevitable question. Where the Godmother truly shines is in its spectacular bread and Roma Market simply cannot compete on that level. Yet, I’d venture to say that the meats of Roma Market are not only better than the Boar’s Head of Bay Cities, but perfectly conceived and constructed. And at the end of the day, who care’s? Both are glorious in their own rights and worth eating. If you live in Santa Monica, it’s probably not worth driving over just to try Roma Market, but if you’re already in the general vicinity of the neighborhood you can’t go wrong.