Authenticity, freshness and flavor served with a side of personal interaction is what makes a deli become a neighborhood favorite.
On a Friday afternoon at Bob’s Country Meats in Canyon Country, Ryan Barstaad waited as his tri-tip sandwich was being prepared, bantering with the meat-cutters behind the counter.
As a child, Barstaad would come to Bob’s with his father, who got all his meats there to cook at home. As an adult and self-proclaimed foodie, he appreciates being able to get his favorites ready to eat and on the go.
“The tri-tip is amazing. I tell all my friends about it,” he said. “I like to support local spots. Bob’s has good food, good people and good customer service.”
Across town at Italia Deli, it’s 10:30 on Saturday morning and the place is already filling up with customers eager to pick up homemade Italian food for weekend adventures.
Maritza Rubinick, of Valencia, was waiting for sandwiches for a family picnic. She’s been coming to Italia since it opened 10 years ago after being a long-time customer of the original location in Granada Hills.
“The food is very fresh and has homemade Italian flavor,” she said. “It tastes better than anything I would make myself. They know how to do it.”
With just three and a half years at its Newhall location, Cathy’s Restaurant and Deli is a bit of a newcomer on the scene, but already has a dedicated following.
Ryan Borland, of Valencia, comes at least once a week, for the food and also for the friendly service.
“Erik, the owner, is awesome. He’s so personable and will sit down at your table to talk to you,” Borland said. “We just don’t have a lot of places like this out here.”
Whether you’re seeking culinary comfort, convenience, or both, the Santa Clarita Valley is fortunate to have many unique delis to serve you. Here are five of our favorites:
Bob’s Country Meats
19012 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
(661) 251-5995 or www.bobscountrymeats.com
Open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
This butcher shop, deli and grocery store has been a staple in Santa Clarita for close to four decades. Owner Keith Mowry took it over from the original Bob 27 years ago and kept the emphasis on fresh, hand-cut meats along with homemade salads and sides, such as sky-high twice baked potatoes and a creamy garlic pasta salad that Mowry mixes up himself.
Every day, rain or shine, Mowry and his crew fire up the barbecue outside the store to grill chicken, ribs, tri-tip and homemade hot Italian sausage. The savory, smoky meats are kept hot and ready for customers to pick up any time during opening hours. Like the stellar chili, made with big chunks of tender beef, the barbecue tends to go pretty quickly, so come in early. Sandwiches are standouts here, too, made with Boar’s heads meats, cheese and a whole lot of care.
If you’d rather cook something up at home, there are plenty of steaks chops, and kebabs to choose from, some pre-marinated, others waiting to soak up some of Bob’s homemade sauces and spice blends, which are also available.
Cathy’s Restaurant and Deli
23120 Lyons Ave., Ste. 24, Newhall
Open daily 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
This sit-down restaurant is reminiscent of an old school New York deli diner, where meats are hand-sliced for sandwiches like a hefty Reuben loaded with perfectly cooked pastrami. The lox is prime Nova Scotia, and the chicken soup is anchored by a huge, fluffy matzah ball and surrounded by chunks of chicken, rough-cut carrots and long tangles of pappardelle noodles.
The rest of the menu features updated takes on diner classics, such as the Horchata French toast, a towering stack of grilled, cinnamon-infused Challah bread with a custard-like center or Eggs Benedict with twists like duck confit that deliver new flavors while retaining comfort food status.
Italia Panetteria & Deli
27674 Newhall Ranch Road, No. 55, Valencia
(661) 294-9069 or italiavalencia.com
Open 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday
There Is so much to explore at this beautiful ode to all things Italian, from cannoli, tiramisu, and jewel-like cookies in the pastry cases to dozens of homemade gelatos, sauces, pastas, and prepared dishes in the huge freezers. Around the corner is a section devoted to items imported from the home country, ranging from huge tins of olive oil to colorful jars of peppers.
Italia’s busy kitchen offers lunch and dinner specials, including an antipasto or caprese salad or if you like it hot, lasagna, parmigiana, rigatoni, ravioli and alfredo for one to four people. However, Italia’s real claim to fame is the fresh-baked bread made on the premises daily by owner co-owner John Magnanimo.
The smell of these perfectly crusty rolls and baguettes will make you salivate even before they get loaded up with cold cuts, sausage and peppers or meat balls for delectable sandwiches, often crafted by co-owner Victoria Magnanimo (she and her husband have been working at Italia for decades). There are more than a dozen varieties to choose from and several, such as the fantastic Italia cold cut, can be made into 2- to 6-foot, party-perfect subs.
27131 Sierra Highway, Suite 100, Canyon Country
(661) 251-6666 or www.manoushee.com
Open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Since its inception in 2008, the focus at Manoushee Mediterranean Bakery & Café has been home cooking, with everything made from scratch from recipes inspired by owner Maral Sabounjian’s Lebanese childhood.
About 60 percent of the food here falls under the vegan or vegetarian category, which is a natural for the region, including a textbook falafel or Lebanese Hash, a crispy disc of spicy potatoes, both of which can be served as a plate or wrapped up in homemade pita bread.
The deli case overflows with great take home options, including some of the best hummus, baba ghanouj, stuffed grape leaves, tzatziki, marinated olives, and pickled turnips you’ll find outside of LA. Whatever you order, make sure to ask for a side the garlic sauce or get a large tub to split at the table. The fluffy, luscious garlicky spread will make just about anything better.
Pick up some pita bread, too. It’s soft, chewy, filled with little air bubbles and crunchy bits, all the better to scoop up Man’oushee’s magnificent dips and sauces. Sweet tooths are also in luck here, since there are five different kinds of baklava to choose from, including pistachio, walnut, cashew, and a custard-filled version that combines the flaky decadence of pastry with a smooth, velvety center.
18571 Soledad Canyon Road, Canyon Country
23449 Lyons Avenue, Newhall
Yes, this is a grocery store, but there’s a whole side of the store devoted to Hispanic foods that can compete with or beat any local restaurant, in terms of quality (and definitely in price).
Vallarta’s deli starts with the bakery, where you can peruse dozens of shelves containing an overwhelming amount of pastries, muffins, and sweetbreads, before transitioning to sheet cakes, flan, and gelatin desserts in a kaleidoscope of colors.
Then there’s the hot case, with steaming silver trays containing a myriad Mexican specialties. Soups range from caldo de res (beef) or caldo de pollo (chicken) to albondigas (meatball), served with a generous portion of rice and warm tortillas.
You can take home family-size bundles of savory chicken, carne asada, chili verde, or carnitas plus rice and whole or refried beans. If it’s just you, there are smaller plates to enjoy in store (there are bench tables) or to go. Continue on down the line if you want to pick up authentic salsas, cheeses, sausages, salads, crema and even more sweets to round out your feast.