Oh, the sandwich gods have been kind to our little WeHo / Melrose / Fairfax neighborhood of late. We already have All About the Bread, Mendocino Farms, Food + Lab, Canters Deli and Ink.sack (to name only a few) all in our relative vicinity. They've now gifted us with Marcona - an east-coast style deli from owner Collier Ulrich and chef Matthew Moss that hopes to break the mold by offering sandwiches, salads and sides with a Meditterranean twist. The counter-service restaurant, located on Melrose between Martel and Fuller, opens to the public on March 20th, and we were invited to come in for a preview.
Marcona's menu lists twelve sandwiches (ranging in price from $5-12), and we got our hands on most of them. The array of options should satisfy the hungriest of carnivores (hangar steak, anyone?) or the pickiest of vegetarians (caprese beets!). There are even two vegan options if that's your sorta thing - the one we sampled, the V.B.Q. ($9 - vegan meatloaf, BBQ), wasn't half bad. Sandwiches can be supplemented by a selection of healthy sides, salads and a few unique assortments of pickled vegetables.
Among the sandwiches we sampled, a few really stand out. My personal favorite is the Lomo ($10.50), a hearty sandwich stuffed with tender, spiced pork shoulder, roasted parsnips, charred red onions, manchego, and a date mustard as sweet as it is pungent. Served on a crusty ciabatta roll, the resulting sandwich is packed with flavor. Angela was particularly impressed by the Turkey Romesco ($9), which piles white-meat turkey, red onion, iceberg, romesco, and manchego on a French baguette. What separates it from your typical turkey sandwich, though, is the heat and crunch derived from the housemade giardiniera, which Marcona offers on its own as one of their vegan pickled options, along with "chow chow" - corn, cucumber, cauliflower, radish, sweet red pepper & thyme, cider vinegar - and "Thai" - cucumber, cilantro, daikon, jalapeno, lemongrass, red onion, seasoned rice wine vinegar.
The Spanish Gyro ($12) wrapped juicy bits of merguez lamb sausage, piquillos, and baby greens in a pita and topped it with a refreshing combination of sheep's milk yogurt and cucumber. The BLT ($9) combines the classic combination with an assertive tarragon aioli on a toasted fluffy pretzel roll. If you're going for healthy, the Marcona Chicken Pesto ($9) and Burlington ($10 - mushrooms, Vermont cheddar, granny smith apple) sandwiches dial back on heft and come served on fresh honey wheat rolls. Red onion fans will find themselves in heaven, though my dining companion, who tends to be finicky about them, ate around them.
In addition to sandwiches, Marcona offers a small selection of salads, sides, and soups. The Mediterranean potatoes ($4) may be the star here, with sundried tomatoes and olives give the traditional potato salad (red potato, herbs) a unique flavor boost. Another side is a white bean salad ($3.50), comprised very simply of lightly cooked beans, red onion, olive oil and mint.
On the sweet side of things, pastry chef Janna Leone has big plans for Marcona's dessert options. We're hoping the delicious cookies (below) that we took away with us are an indicator of what's to come.
And for those looking to take a taste of Marcona home with them, a small retail section offers some of Marcona's baked goods and coffees, as well as some local and imported products such as oils, vinegars, mustards and salts. Once Marcona officially opens to the public this Tuesday, March 20, it will be open from 11:30 - 7:00 Tuesday - Thursday and from 11:00 - 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday. I'll certainly be back for that Lomo.