The deli news: In this column two weeks ago, I responded to two letters from people looking for good delis. Specifically, good Italian and Jewish delis--but that didn't stop Rachel Genatassio from writing to suggest her favorite deli, which is neither Italian nor Jewish. "Looking for clean, pleasant surroundings with very polite, prompt service and great deli food?" Genatassio asks. "Try the Laughing Dog at 1925 Blake Street." She goes on to say that she doesn't understand how "Kyle missed this one, considering it's only a few blocks from Westword's offices."
Truth is, Rachel, I didn't miss Laughing Dog. I've ordered food from this five-month-old deli on numerous occasions--and I've been bitten every time. First it was the bagel with Nova lox and cream cheese ($5.50), which arrived as just half a bagel, without enough smoked salmon to cover even that meager portion. Luckily, that order also included a Suburban sandwich ($5.25), a tidy, tasty combination of turkey, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, jack cheese and mayonnaise--at least, it was tasty and tidy the first time I tried it. Two weeks later I ordered the same sandwich, and this version looked like someone had punched it in the stomach and made it bleed guacamole, it was so poorly wrapped and overstuffed; that same helpful soul had added so many onions they were all I could taste. On another occasion I tried the Ellis Island sandwich ($5.50), a savvy gathering of prosciutto, roasted red peppers, mozzarella and basil pesto on a chewy baguette; three days later, the same order brought the same fillings--minus the crucial basil pesto--between two pieces of stale bread.
Three times I've gone in on a group order of spring rolls ($2); each time the rolls came wrapped in rice paper that had been soaked too long in water--they fell apart as soon as we undid the plastic-wrap covering. Even a free order--sent after we complained that the first round had disintegrated--didn't hold together. And the flavorless, mostly carrot contents that spilled out weren't worth scooping up with a spoon.
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I'm apparently a slow learner, because I tried yet again one day when I was office-bound at lunch. I called to ask about the soup of the day and was told it was a creamy chicken, but when it got to my desk, it had transmogrified into a spicy, tomato-based concoction with two bits of bird.
My co-workers are divided into two camps on Laughing Dog: There are those who've had similarly disappointing experiences but still frequent the Dog because it's close, and there are those who think the Dog makes great egg sandwiches. I'll take their word for it--I've had my last Laughing.
Meanwhile, Barry Hawkins wrote to share the name of his favorite Italian deli: Carmine Lonardo's. It has two locations, 7585 West Florida in Lakewood and 15380 East Smoky Hill Avenue in Aurora. A stop by the Lakewood store netted a $4 sandwich that fed me and a large male friend; a three-inch-thick loaf of Italian bread had been filled with another three inches of capicola, ham, salami, provolone and Italian dressing. The only thing I could still squeeze into my stomach after that was a homemade pizzelle, which Carmine's sells in Baggies for $3. The deli offers only three or four sandwiches (its main business is making Italian sausages), but if you're in the neighborhood, you can't beat the deal.