The Veal Thing
When I heard that there was a long-standing rivalry in the city that I'd yet to take sides on, I decided that it was time to add my views to the debate.
Oh yes, there's nothing like a meaty controversy over veal sandwiches. Which are better? Nearly neighbours, the small, humble San Francesco's and the since franchised California Sandwiches have been competing in Little Italy for years. Each has a dedicated following who swears their purveyor of yummy goodness has an edge over the competition.
But before I could contribute to the discussion, I knew I had some research to do. It was tough work: a messy, heavy, and sometimes spicy job, but someone's got to do it. And after much deliberation, I think I've reached a verdict.
First of all, I'd like to remind you that we're all winners here. Both belly-fillers were delcious, no doubt about it. But, truth be told, somehow San Francesco's nudged its way above California.
Maybe it was the underdog appeal - I like the little, cramped deli style better than the take-a-number, assembly line feel. Sure, the latter is more of a restaurant: there's seating, decor, and friendly cashiers. San Francesco's has a heavily accented fellow working the cash, and a bench outside. And somehow, I liked that more.
This difference carried over into the sandwiches themselves: California offered more, but I still found that simpler was better. The California sandwich is more expensive ($6.50 compared to $5.00) but it's also bigger. As well, the "medium" was considerably spicer than their counterpart, and the flavouring of the sauce more complex - there was a pleasant smoky taste and smell in this one.
Yet, while California's was perfectly good, San Francesco's was somehow more satisfying. The sauce was delicately spiced, and the peppers were sliced (not chopped as in California's), making it less spicy and more savoury, with a gentle kick remaining. There was more sauce, which seemed to increase the goodness of the overall sandwich. I also noticed that the veal cutlets were not as crispy - something that I would have expected to find fault with, but in fact enjoyed over the crunchier breading of California's.
Finally, this sandwich came on a smaller bun, which means less bread detracting from the flavour of the filling. The end result was a sandwich that wasn't overwhelming in size or flavour, but satisfying in a devour-the-whole-thing-in-minutes-and-then-lick-your-fingers kinda way.
But don't take my word for it - taste them for yourself, and then exercise your right to vote (or at least express your opinion, anyway.)
San Francesco Foods, 10 Clinton, 416 534 7867
California Sandwiches, 244 Claremont, 416 603 3317
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