Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Franco's Deli

It happened that the night we had a rather fierce fire on this, the 1200 block of Duval, I thought Franco's Deli might have burned down. As I sat and listened to the radio talk between the firefighters I wondered if this deli might be gone before I had even had a chance to check it out.As it turned out the fire burned an empty house, scorched some apartments and the strip club, but spared the deli. This is a recent arrival in Key West operated by a couple of brothers whose last name is, appropriately enough Bologna, the city that gave it's name to the pressed meat called baloney...When I asked him if his name forced this career onto him brother Peter ( which wa show he identified himself) looked at me a bit old fashioned and said "No," in a gruff New York style. "I could'a been anything. This was my fate." I wondered if he could have been a contender too but kept that thought to myself. His brother Franco paints in between making sandwiches:I have no experience of New York style delis having spent most of my adult life in California. However one night I got a call at work from Officer Sellers, she who likes to call me "Mr Conchscooter" after the time she spotted her neighbor's house on my blog. "What's the name of the deli on Upper Duval?" she asked, anxious to show her friends a good time. "Er..." I said in the manner of one who is mistaken for a person who knows everything. So when this Key West native started extolling the value of Franco's I thought I'd better try it. After the fire intervened I got my skates on and scooted over:Peter Bologna (unless he was pulling my leg and he is a shy painter called Franco) in the yellow cap, saw the camera and asked if I was a restaurant critic. "No" I said. He grunted when I said it was just a record for my blog. "I would'a bribed you..." The thought hung tantalisingly in the air. I wondered what a Bologna bribe looks like. Perhaps a bottle of virgin olive oil or some capers from the Old Country?I grew up somewhere in the middle of the Italian boot and we never had sandwiches like they sell here. The Italian sandwiches I ate as a kid were two pieces of bread with a piece of meat or a piece of cheese, no condiments, no mayonnaise no lettuce no nothing. No wonder Italians emigrated en masse to America. It wasn't that the streets were paved with gold, it was that Italian heros had all the ingredients one could imagine between two slices of bread.And Illy coffee isn't bad at all though I've never seen it sold out of a Thermos in Italy. New York maybe but I only ever spent one night in New York 29 years ago so I know nothing about the Big Apple. Franco's deli charges 50 cents for a cup of ice and only let's customers use the restroom. That's a Key West thing, else the bums will set up camp there.They proudly use Boar Head meats and I guess that was what I got because I wanted to try the basic cold Italian combo.They also produce Italian pasta dishes and stuffed vegetables. I was planning on eating the sandwich at the movies so I wanted something easy to deal with. Look at that sparkling clean kitchen:They don't have anywhere to sit except a couple of stools on the porch which make a nice spot to observe life on Upper Duval. The yellow awning marks the Banana Cafe next door which used to be my favorite Italian restaurant in Key West called Carmine's which had to close as the landlord went nuts and doubled the rent or something. Very annoying as I liked the Banana Cafe better in it's old cramped intimate quarters. A crepe at the counter was a great lunch for one. Now I have Franco's to test:Notice the prices are not especially high and one has to wonder what a sweet Italian sausage or a chicken cutlet would taste like. They also use this abbreviation for parmigiana which I first heard on a TV show called The Sopranos where they abbreviated everything and cut off the last vowels of Italian words. So that becomes "parm" which would shock the residents of Parma no doubt, which is where the cheese is from. Abbreviating is not an Italian thing to do. Unless you are in New York or New Jersey or somewhere.They sell salads too and they have stuff for breakfast which sounds enticing. It's as well I live outside the city I think, this is not low calorie food.For eight and a half bucks I got a sandwich big enough for two meals.I wonder what a New Yorker would make of it?

14 comments:

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

New York deli? Maybe... Go in there for breakfast tomorrow and order a Taylor ham and egg sandwich. If they don't have that, ask for a pound of "head cheese" to go. If they haven't got Taylor ham or head cheese, tell them to change the name to the Key West Deli.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Jack Riepe said...

PS: I cannot believe you have never been to New York. Ride your bike up her and I'll give you a three-day tour of the city.

JR/TW

Conchscooter said...

I know San Francisco quite well though.

Chuck Pefley said...

Looks like a nice place to eat. Somehow though, I suspect it might have a hard time in a Deli-Iron-Chef contest if competing with the likes of Katz Deli in the Bowery.

Your sandwich looks pretty tasty, though, and should have gotten you through the movie with some satisfaction.

Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

Ewww - head cheese looks like Fruit Cake. Different leftover meat bits wobbling in a gelatinous mass... but tasty. I guess it is no worse than modern bologna, liquefied "lips and assholes" baked into a casing.

lys93 said...

Not a good post to read for someone who is on a clear liquid diet today before a routine colonoscopy tomorrow!

Good thing Layne came to visit last weekend...it is cold and snowy here in IL today and into the next week! The cousins had a grand time together.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

You come up up this way and we'll hit a Jewish deli in Newark, NJ that corns their own beef and cures tongue in the basement. Heading into Manhattan, we'll hit the Carnegie Deli on 7th avenue. Corned beef or pastrami hash is $15.95.

We'll top lunch off with a couple of blintzes too.

When are you going to do your Iron Butt ride in this direction? I want to get your room ready. Right now, there's a car parked in it.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Anonymous said...

Dont do it Conch ...head cheese sucks!!!! Growing up with a polish mother(and i love polish food)kept after me to eat head cheese.Only the polish would boil the head of some animal and but the nasty bits in a vinegar jelly and call it cheese!!!! Skip it...trust me...

Buffalo Bill

bobskoot said...

Mr Conchscooter:

I cringe at the thought of Head Cheese. It isn't cheese at all, only called that for some reason.

Jack: forget the garage room, I want the room next to the kitchen and snuggle with Atticus, and smell the good smells from the kitchen. The garage is for my Wee.

bob
bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Conchscooter said...

I like cheese but animal gelatin with body parts was not onviously on display and I am relucatant to imagine a shop in Key West sells any thing that belongs to the Great depression. Oh wait a minute maybe it's time for it to make a come back.
DearLyn: I hope you don't wake up early and feel the cool metal tube in places it was never meant to be. Ha ha ha. I don't do another one for four more years. Lucky me.
My Iron Butt, if it has to be the third weekend of the month could not be earlier than April 24th or later than May the twenty whatever.
Cheyenne doesn't know about this betrayal yet. I would be honored to sleep with bob's wee while he gets ravaged by Atticus. They will have a cute puppy.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conch:

There is nothing that tastes like a hot tongue sandwich or head cheese on crusty bread, with penetratingly hot mustard — washed down with heady, strong beer, like Maudite, from Canada.

Buffalo Bill: Do you have a strong professional affiliation with an establishment that features pole dancing performance artists?

Conch: I am attempting to revive a career as the travel industry goes belly up. I have to be in Chicago sometime in April, over a weekend. I'll check soon.

The third Sunday of the month is Mac Pac Breakfast day. We have several Iron Butt members in the group. It would be fun to give you an escort as a send-off. In fact, I would propose you for an honorary membership, considering you ride a motorcycle with many Amish-like features.

Like most men who have had ongoing and successful relationships with women, Atticus has had his balls cut off.

Chuck: When was the last time you were on the Bowery? My mother thought it would be the final destination for me.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Capt. Joey said...

If they have a good provolone and pepperoni on a round roll I'm in, and if you like a good Chicken and Pesto with Basil over Penne pasta and Gravy let me know and I'll make a plate for you when I'm down .

Anonymous said...

i would like to add. That many of the foods at francos are made on site. They make their own fresh mozzarella, all of their salads, meatballs, and deserts. Just for the record, francesco is pete and susans father not petes brother . Franco is short for francesco

Conchscooter said...

Thanks for the update. They weren't terribly interested in talking to me after they saw my camera and found out I wasn't a food critic...And if Francesco is long for Franco, Pietro must be long for Peter- se non erro?