Bay Cities opened in 1925 in Santa Monica and has been serving authentic Italian deli fare ever since then. It wasn’t always a full grocery store like it is now, and you can tell that the deli recipes are time-honored traditions.
I love old-school deli counters, fingerprints and all, and the red ticket machine is always an instant icon.
Everything is freshly prepared.
The grocery has a great wine section.
There’s also a large selection of Limoncello, an Italian liqueur made with lemon usually served chilled. Limoncello has been growing in popularity recently, and it makes for a fantastic summertime drink or addition to a cocktail.
Do you need olive oil or vinegar? This is the place.
And of course, a variety of cured meats.
There are shelves stocked full of freshly made sandwiches, sides, pickled foods, garnishes, olives, and sauces.
The Godmother, among other sandwiches, can be found here so that you don’t have to wait in line at the deli counter. Grab, and go!
Desserts! You got your classics like tiramisu and cannoli as well as other colorful cakes and cookies.
There’s nothing like the heft of a good sandwich wrapped in thick deli paper.
Here’s Il Toscano. It’s a simple sandwich with only a few, high-quality ingredients. The prosciutto is beautifully cured, and it melds into the creamy burrata with every bite. The flavors are rich but not overwhelming.
The bread here is just as hallowed as everything else — maybe even more so. It’s baked from scratch every day from a family recipe. It’s hearty and crisp and chewy in a way that a deli sandwich requires.
Mamma mia, that’s a sandwich! There’s so much flavor packed in here, and it’s a heavy girl. You’ll be dizzy for an hour after eating this, and it’s recommended you not operate heavy machinery during that time. This is the trademark item of Bay Cities. It’s a gem among the deli sandwich family and a perfect amalgamation of all the hand-crafted, secret-recipe legit-ness that drives the entire store. Fresh bread, hand-cured meat, meticulously-selected vegetables — mwah!
The Truffle Ham is similar to Il Toscano: simple yet satisfying. At first glance, it looks like an Oscar Mayer sandwich, but it’s miles better than any chain grocer product. The truffle blends with the Swiss in a way that forces a muffled “mmmph” from deep within your belly.
All of these go well with Sanpellegrino, of course.
The Prime Rib has horseradish in its special sauce. This one is perfect if you’re looking for something with a kick!
Sfogliatelle is a stuffed pastry made of very thin layers of dough cooked to a crisp. This one is filled with chocolate, and it’s super fun (and messy) to eat!
And if you can only get one thing here, I’d recommend the tiramisu. Why not the Godmother? While I would happily brave weekend Santa Monica traffic for a Godmother, I know that sort of beastly sandwich is not for everyone.
The tiramisu though is a Bay Cities star in its own way. It’s a classic Italian treat that almost anyone can love, and the version here is perfectly creamy and cake-y and soaked with just the right amount of espresso. It’s not sloppy, but it melts in your mouth. I get a slice every time I visit.
Here’s to many more years of Bay Cities love!