Sunday, September 18, 2005

Monte Carlo Market/Pinocchio Deli, Part Two: DOOOO It.

My friends and I, since we're a bunch of freaks who like to make up stories out of thin air, love going to Monte Carlo Italian market/Pinocchio deli not just because of the food, but because whenever we go, we always pass that giant home improvement store called the Do-It Center. No, not to go, silly, but so that we can break out in our best "New Yoik/Joi-sey" accents for at least a couple minutes to say "DOOOO it."

"Ya just gotta DOOOO it."

"Yeah, go DOOOO it."

"When ya gonna DOOOO it?"

All the boss had to do was make a couple a' phone calls. "Just DOOOO it, " he ordered to whomever was on the other side, and hung up. He turned to me, pointing a finger. "OK, everything's taken care of. Now you know whatcha gotta DOOOO. Now go DOOOO it."

Hence the

Back in reality, the actual experience inside Monte Carlo can be just as much fun as all the funny fake accents and the daydreaming. It's almost as if it should be called Italian Food World, because that's what it is. And you can customize your experience depending on what floats your boat. On one side of the place, you've got an Italian market, full of pretty much all the Italian imports you can get your hands on--wines including overgrown bottles of chianti and pinot grigio, coffees, pastas, jarred and canned foodstuffs. On this side, you can get the sliced imported deli meats and cheeses or baked goods like cannolis and biscotti to take home. Or if you so wish, a couple scoops of gelato for the bambini.

Find this...

...and this...

...AND this...

...and even this on the "authentic" side.

You can bring the boss a box of these, too

The other side--the restaurant side--will mostlikely, however, appeal to your hokey red-sauce Italian American tendencies. Here, you can choose from one of the various Italian-style hoagies with a side of potato salad or whatever deli-case salad you might be in the mood for. Here's where you'll also see all the steam trays full of baked ziti or lasagna, or pathetic looking spaghetti waiting for a ladle full of marinara and a couple of meatballs to top it off. I'm not saying that what you get here is bad, it's just more generic compared to all the exciting stuff on the market side.

The red-sauce steam trays are right around the corner

Once they make or scoop your order, it's time to lug your tray over to the dark booth-lined dining room whose walls are adorned with the facades of old wine barrels and whose tables are covered with cliche red and white checkered tablecloths. Or, sit outside at one of the few umbrella covered tables aside groups of old neighborhood farts that people watch all day to make the time pass.

This last time, I ordered a small Monte Carlo sandwich with two self-chosen sides of three bean salad and Greek salad. The sandwich itself, almost open faced because of the absence of a simple toothpick, is tasty and substantial with mortadella, salami, capicola, provolone cheese all on a sesame grinder roll. It's topped with a scoop of tangy marinated tomatoes that make the sandwich even tastier but make it downright messy at the same time. My salads usually end up catching the chunks of tomato that slip and slide out of my sammich and plop back onto my plate, which is OK, since all the salads that come from behind that counter kind of have that premade-seasoned-with-Italian-dressing-generic-yet-somehow-comforting-taste anyways. It's not the best red-sauce style Italian American food I've had, but it makes for a decent, safe lunch.

My Monte Carlo sandwich--all agape with excitement-- & sides

We're done with lunch and I'm back over on the market side, ready to pick up those cannolis. "Can I have one of the cannolis please?" I asked the sweet but sassy old lady behind the counter. "Sure," she responded in her still-retained East Coast accent as she grabbed one of the regular $1.99 ones for me, "but if ya wanna cannoli you'll neva' forget, ya gotta try one a' these imported cannolis. They're from Sicily. I was lucky enough to try one a' these the otha' day 'cause one of 'em broke inta little pieces and we all got ta' try it. This is one cannoli you'll neva' forget." How could I resist? "OK, gimmee one of those too," I told her.

As she's wrapping my cannolis up, and as my friend's placing her order with her for some of the "unfuggehdable" cannolis, she must've told us about five times how she got to try some because it "broke into little pieces the other day." Because I'm twisted, my gangster alter-ego got the best of my mind and suddenly I imagined myself saying in my best mob voice, "Shut up ya old bag, now gimmee my cannolis, the boss is waiting!" But of course I didn't because one, I'm not a mobster, and two, she was sweet as can be.

We passed the Do-It Center on the way back to the office and of course needed to get in a couple of our usual immature lines: "Are you gonna DOOOO it?", "Why can'tcha just DOOOO it?" But it was soon back to reality, back to regular work--no money laundering, no "clean-up" work--the only thing left of our sick mob world being those cannolis.

Monte Carlo Market/Pinocchio Deli
3103 W. Magnolia Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91505
(818) 845-3517


Doran said...

Pam, have you been following me?

First, you write about Bollywood, just a few blocks from my Saturday gig. Now you're writing about Monte Carlo, my very own Italian market, about 3 blocks from home. Well, it's the one I shop at. But it does keep that neighborhood feel which makes me think it's mine.

Again, you hit the nail on the head. The restaurant side is a different beast than the market. The former is a good, not great, red-sauce kinda place. In addition to the Monte Carlos sandwich, I like the sausage or the occasional meatball. I always skip the spagetti in favor of the ravioli. The lasagna can be ooey-gooey good if caught just at the right time under the heat lamps. The salads are what shine and most are pretty terrific.

But it's the market which draws me in every week. The ciabatta, the fresh mozzarella, the several different cured meats. This is the only place close that I can find good Ox tail, and their variety of olive oil and canned tomatos (which many people don't consider) is pretty good.

Yea, and the cranky but very sweet people behind the counter make it all worthwhile. Just be sure to grab a number and listen carefully for it to be called. You'll only get about 3/4 of a second before they'll move on to the next one.

Daily Gluttony said...

Yes Doran,

Apparently I have been following you! LOL!

Thanks for the tip on the OxTail, I love me summa that stuff!

califdweller said...

I love Monte Carlo! I have been shopping there since '87 when Tatoooooo was still on the wall!
If I had moved to L.A. before 1987, I am sure I would've started going sooner.

I always make my spaghetti with 5lbs of mild-no-fennel-sausage and 1 lb of their ground beef. It never fails to come out great! I add tomatoes, tomato sauce, fresh herbs, onions, peppers, garlic. It takes two days, but it's full of flavor and I can't go wrong when I toss in a handful of Parmagianno Reggianno to thicken it. I buy my EVOO there too. You can get a bigger container there for much cheaper than in a local grocery store.

I have eaten at Pinnochio's a few times - when I was working at Citibank in North Hollywood. But it is the Monte Carlo Deli goodies that bring me back at least once a month! Their pancetta, the Molinari salami, the baklava, the pine nuts...everything they have is wonderful.

I love Monte Carlo...and the old guys behind the counter rock ;-)

George Vaccaro said...

hey, i was just looking for a good italian market near me (just moved to hollywood a few months ago) and found your blog. I'll be checking it out today.

im afraid nothing can top Fiore's in Hoboken where i used to visit frequently when i lived there. the mozzarella is like nowhere else. (in best mob voice) im droolin like pablo's dog jus tinkin aboudit. (in other mob voice) don't you mean Pavlov's dog? - no, i mean my buddy pablo's dog, he useta drool alot, now get me dat mootz - dooo it!

you killed me with the "shut up ya old bag..." comment.

ill post my impressions if youre interested.


Leroy Haley said...

My friends and I, since we're a bunch of freaks who like to make up stories out of thin air, love going to Monte Carlo Italian market/Pinocchio deli not just because of the food, camiseta de futbol but because whenever we go