If you hear delicatessen and think sandwich, you’re not alone. The two words are so interconnected, you can hardly think of one without the other. Yet delicatessen comes from the German word for delicacy or fine food—not sandwich. And if you think about it, that’s just what our region’s delis offer, serving up everything from exquisite pâtés to take-and-bake lasagna—in addition to an amazing array of sandwiches. Here are some of our favorites.
Roxie Deli & Grocery—3340 C St., Sacramento; (916) 443-5402; roxiedeli.com
The quintessential neighborhood deli, Roxie is the sort of place you hear about, not drive by. Located in the farthest reaches of East Sac-ramento, this spunky little corner store has some big fans. It offers a modest lineup of specialty sandwiches, such as the Roxie Chicken Marinara (chicken breast, provolone, marinara sauce and sour cream), and lots of traditional sandwich combos. This quirky little place also serves more esoteric items such as tamale salad (hard to describe but delicious) and Russian piroshki. You’re lucky if you visit on the days they smoke tri tip and chicken; make sure to take some home.
Best reason to visit: House-smoked tri tip sandwich
Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op—1900 Alhambra Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 455-2667; sacfoodcoop.com
The co-op’s deli gets packed during lunch as people seeking a healthful, flavorful meal line up for the huge sandwiches, salads and robust, Earth-friendly takeout. There’s a generously stocked salad bar and a hot buffet; if you spot the free-form tofu lasagna, go for it. Eat your repast in the sunny dining area or bag it up to take back to work. Recommended: black bean enchiladas, potpie and turkey meatloaf. (All can be warmed up in the deli microwave.) Don’t pass up the turkey wrap, made with spinach, artichoke hearts and roasted red bell peppers.
Best reason to visit: Basil-Asiago chicken salad
Better Foods Deli—900 Douglas Blvd., Roseville; (916) 782-2841
Better Foods has concrete block walls covered with baseball and football posters, hoards of customers and an attractive list of picnic-worthy sandwiches. This amiable bunker of a deli has been cranking out hearty fare since 1970, so it knows what it’s doing. It’s fun to watch the staff as they nimbly slice the meats for every order—presliced meats are a no-no here—slap sandwiches together in seconds and serve ’em with a big, welcoming smile. Popular sandwiches include liverwurst and meatball; Better Foods also makes a seriously delicious deviled egg.
Best reason to visit: Antipasto sandwich
Bistro at William Glen—Town & Country Village, 2651 El Paseo Lane, Sacramento; (916) 485-3000; williamglen.com
If you’re into food, what could be better than being surrounded by gorgeous kitchen equipment while you’re eating an upscale deli lunch? William Glen, the region’s fine-gift and kitchenware playground, provides just that. Hidden at the back of the store, away from the displays of designer napkins, ice cream machines and Calphalon pans, the deli has an old-fashioned black-and-white-checkered floor, glass-top tables and fancy iron chairs. In addition to cold sandwiches—try the chunky chicken salad served on walnut-wheat bread—and hot panini, you’ll find huge slabs of quiche, housemade meatloaf, and a great selection of salads and soups. Don’t forget to check out the cookbook section as you leave.
Best reason to visit: Grilled vegetable, goat cheese and pesto panini
DELIS WITH BENEFITS
David Berkley—Pavilions, 515 Pavilions Lane, Sacramento; (916) 929-4422
Longtime foodie favorite David Berkley is a must-visit for anyone seeking high-quality comestibles. You’ll find stuff for your picnic basket that you won’t see anywhere else in the region, such as feta-stuffed green olives, smoked scallops and glazed, roasted figs (great with Port wine). This lovely delicatessen has a wonderful selection of cheeses and wines, in addition to its very popular sandwiches, cured meats (from Danish salami and smoked liverwurst to headcheese), pâtés and exquisite, locally sourced produce.
Best reason to visit: Housemade soups
Selland’s Market-Cafe—5340 H St., Sacramento; (916) 736-3333; sellands.com
This lively cafe is a showcase of gourmet provisions. In addition to creative sandwiches (such as the spicy carnitas sandwich with melted cheddar, tomatoes and red onions on a plush roll), the kitchen serves made-to-order thin-crust pizza and lots of hot items that you can eat there or take home. Your kids will love the dreamy mac ’n’ cheese, topped with toasted breadcrumbs, and your book club or dinner guests will ooh and aah over Selland’s colorful salads—don’t miss the beet and grapefruit salad—charming hors d’oeuvres and high-quality baked goods.
Best reason to visit: Oven-roasted brussels sprouts with bacon
Dominick’s Italian Market & Deli—8621 Auburn-Folsom Road, Granite Bay; (916) 786-3355; dominicksmarketdeli.com
A gathering spot for local Italian-Americans, Dominick’s contributes far more to the Granite Bay community than just good food. Jovial and fiercely family-run, the deli offers an enormous menu that includes couch-size sandwiches. (Really, really hungry? Order the meatball parmigiana sandwich.) You’ll also find salads, individual pizzas, and hot and cold pasta dishes. Don’t leave without a container of Dominick’s baked meat ziti casserole or marinated garlic shrimp.
Best reason to visit: Mixed seafood salad
Corti Brothers—5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 736-3802; cortibros.biz
Corti Brothers is, simply put, Italian food nirvana. The deli’s international selection of cured meats and cheeses is astounding, as is its offerings of bottled (and equally international) condiments. Takeout ranges from cheesy twice-baked potatoes and grilled chicken breasts to luscious housemade soups—get the cream of porcini soup if it’s available—and lasagna. Popular sandwiches include the Da Vinci: sweet Italian sausage cooked in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, layered with mozzarella and roasted red and yellow peppers on a French roll, then drizzled with garlic aioli.
Best reason to visit: An opportunity to chat with owner Darrell Corti
Mama Ann’s Deli & Bakery—El Dorado Hills Town Center, 4359 Town Center Blvd., Suite 111, El Dorado Hills; (916) 939-1700
Located in a beautiful Mediterranean-themed shopping center, Mama Ann’s is loved by El Dorado Hills sandwich eaters. The bustling deli dishes up irresistible lunch fare, including the panini sandwiches for which long lines form daily. Try the eggplant parmigiana panini and the fiesty Sicilian (pepperoni, salami, mortadella, provolone and roasted red peppers on a freshly baked Italian roll). And if you’ve no time to cook dinner, Mama Ann’s has a number of yummy pasta dishes you can take home and reheat.
Best reason to visit: Take-and-bake lasagna
Italian Importing Co.—1827 J St., Sacramento; (916) 442-6678
Need Italian ladyfingers, sun-dried tomatoes or imported dried pasta in some esoteric shape such as orecchiette (little ear), creste di galle (cockscomb) or strozzaprete (priest strangler)? This is the place to find it. Filled with shelves of fascinating Italian groceries, it also has one of the finest delis in midtown Sacramento. Sandwiches rule at the Italian Importing Co., which fills up quickly at lunch. Popular selections are the Roma (roast beef with roasted red peppers, lettuce and tomato, doused with oil and vinegar) and the Sicilian (sliced chicken breast with seasoned chopped tomatoes and fresh basil). Be sure to try the old-fashioned bean salad. It’s just like Grandma used to make.
Best reason to visit: The Tuscan sandwich
Sampino’s Towne Foods—1607 F St., Sacramento; (916) 441-2372; sampinos.com
A cheery bastion of Italian hospitality in a gritty strip mall at the corner of F and 16th streets, Sampino’s not only makes delicious sandwiches (such as homemade meatloaf with caramelized onions and mushrooms) but also offers great takeout including meatballs, lasagna and chicken enchiladas. The owners make their own sausages, which are snapped up by local chefs, and they also roast several types of meat for those too busy to do it themselves. Other great sandwiches: the Calabrian (pesto-marinated ham, provolone, lettuce and tomatoes) and the Napoli (fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and fresh basil with pesto).
Best reason to visit: Housemade sausage
Zia’s Delicatessen—616 Third St., Davis; (530) 750-7870; ziasdeli.com
A big fave of the university lunch crowd, tiny Zia’s cranks out some of the best sandwiches in Davis. Grab a mile-high grilled prosciutto panini (with fresh mozzarella and basil on a ciabatta roll) and a tub of delicate potato salad and sit outside on the sidewalk to watch college life strolling past. If you’re still hungry after eating all that, Zia’s sells gelato.
Best reason to visit: Veggie-packed fritatta
Raley’s and Bel Air—Multiple locations; raleys.com
With their presliced meats and gloppy salads, supermarket delis get a bad rap. Raley’s and Bel Air are an exception. This locally owned supermarket chain knows how to create delis that delight. Made-to-order sandwiches include the Rotisserie California Club (chicken, Swiss, bacon, avocado and ranch dressing on a French roll) and the Stinson Beach (seafood salad, avocado, red onions and tomato on a sourdough roll). You also can order hot panini; try the Malibu Melt (turkey, ham, fontina and mayo on a ciabatta roll) or the Napa (prosciutto, mozzarella, Parmesan, tomatoes and basil on Italian flatbread). No time to make dinner? The deli’s grab-’n’-go case is stocked with freshly made salads, soups, fried chicken, lasagna, meatloaf and barbecued ribs.
Best reason to visit: Pacific grilled panini (pastrami, Swiss cheese, red onion and honey mustard on marble rye)
Whole Foods Market—4315 Arden Way, Sacramento; (916) 488-2800; The Fountains at Roseville, 1001 Galleria Blvd., Roseville; (916) 781-5300; wholefoods.com
Whole Foods’ deli boasts a stunning spread, from fresh-baked breads and just-made pizzas to unique sandwiches, an astonishing assortment of cheeses and display cases stuffed with takeout items. Pick up a hot panini for lunch and stroll past the pretty, premade appetizers and side dishes. (Think prosciutto-wrapped asparagus, crab cakes and chile-lime-basil tofu salad.) We bet you’ll end up buying dinner there, too.
Best reason to visit: Grilled Thai chicken skewers with peanut dipping sauce
Nugget Market—Multiple locations; nuggetmarket.com
Nugget’s deli is a great place to go if you’re planning a casual business lunch, picnic, shower or just about any other celebration you can conjure up. I have never visited the deli when there wasn’t a line for sandwiches. They are fabulous. If you like hot sandwiches, go for the Greek-inspired roast lamb panini, smeared with a robust kalamata olive mayonnaise and stacked with sliced red onion, tomatoes, mixed greens and goat cheese. Another favorite: grilled portobello panini with arugula and fontina. But you may never make it to the sandwich counter if you spy the to-go case first, crammed with a shockingly large selection of goodies, from dolmas and barbecued ribs to broccoli coleslaw and turkey Waldorf salad.
Best reason to visit: Salmon cakes with mango chutney aioli
Sam’s Kosher Style Restaurant & Delicatessen—8121 Greenback Lane, Fair Oaks; (916) 726-7267
Around since the early ’70s, this kosher deli is a neighborhood institution. Sam’s is famous for spectacular bagels and lox, beef brisket sandwiches and nourishing matzo ball soup. Don’t miss the Greenback Deal sandwich (corned beef or pastrami and chopped liver on rye) or the house-roasted turkey breast sandwich, smeared with cranberry sauce. (Why wait till Thanksgiving?) Best reason to visit: Stuffed cabbage rolls
Faisal Market—7924 Fruitridge Road, Sacramento; (916) 387-0522; faisalmarket.bravehost.com
Ignore the rickety plastic picnic tables and jumbled, dusty selection of DVD rentals. What Faisal Market lacks in ambiance, it more than makes up for with its halal hot deli. (Halal refers to foods allowed under Islamic dietary law.) Located in the back of the store, the deli offers a number of traditional Afghan specialties, such as gyros (roasted meat sliced off a vertical rotisserie, served in nan bread with lettuce, tomatoes and a drizzle of yogurt), tandoori meat kabobs and qabili pilau (Kabul-style lamb and rice pilaf with carrots and raisins), considered the national dish of Afghanistan. Best reason to visit: Nan beef kabob
Cafe Rolle—5357 H St., Sacramento; (916) 455-9140; caferolle.com
No funds for a French vacation? Make the trip to East Sacramento’s Cafe Rolle (more deli than cafe), where you can order a crusty croque-monsieur (the French bistro version of a grilled ham and cheese sandwich), housemade foie gras and smoked salmon or crevettes aux lentilles (marinated black tiger prawns on a bed of warm lentils), all prepared by the cheerful owner, French-born chef William Rolle. Best reason to visit: Warm brie and smoked salmon sandwich with dill mayonnaise
German Deli—5859 Auburn Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 349-9493
Tucked into a small storefront on busy Auburn Boulevard, this well-worn shop has been serving authentic German delicacies and sandwiches since 1966. There’s a big selection of sausages and German meats—ever tried teewurst, a smoked pork and bacon sausage?—liver pâté, and fun items such as goose fat, quince paste and frozen fruit strudel. Don’t miss the delicious veal loaf sandwich—the loaf tastes like really good bologna—with grain mustard on authentic German rye. There’s also an intriguing selection of German wines at the back of the store. best reason to visit: Housemade sauerkraut
Huong Lan—Pacific Plaza, 6930 65th St., Suite 109, Sacramento; (916) 429-9999
Huong Lan makes the Vietnamese sandwich called bánh mì. An airy, delicate French roll is filled with the meat of your choice (meatball, sardine, grilled pork, shredded chicken), sliced white onions, cilantro, jalapeño slices and a creamy, tangy daikon-carrot slaw. The flavor is fresh and exhilarating, with a pleasing crunchiness, just the right amount of meatiness and the thrilling punch of jalapeño. Best reason to visit: Grilled pork bánh mì