After nearly a full century of waiting, staple Los Angeles sandwich shop the Eastside Italian Deli has expanded to new digs in Los Feliz. The original shop, tucked away in the low hills of Chinatown along the 110 freeway, has been a consistent destination for roast beef, Italian cold cuts, and sausage and pepper sandwiches for decades. And now co-owner Vito Angiuli says it’s time to grow the company to a new, younger audience.
“The opportunity was there,” he says. “The different clientele, the different environment. We wanted to grow, but we just never really had the opportunity.”
Angiuli’s opportunity came in the form of the closed Rocco’s space on Vermont, itself a former Italian deli. For years, Rocco’s did fine in the space, but it never caught the long-term attention of the city the way that places like Eastside Italian Deli or Santa Monica’s Bay Cities have. Angiuli knew the family from Rocco’s, having run in the same event circles, and when they approached him about a possible sale — in the middle of a pandemic no less — Angiuli said the timing, somehow, felt right.
The family self-funded the enterprise, flipping the long, narrow restaurant themselves in just a few short months. Part of the reason it’s taken the Eastside team so long to expand in the first place, Angiuli says, is because they never wanted to take investment money from someone else.
“My father and my uncle coming from the old country,” he says, “the [original] shop was enough for them. They worked and struggled hard to get what they had, just like any immigrant.”
Angiuli admits that the timing, with labor issues, supply chain problems, and ongoing mandates as a result of the pandemic, isn’t exactly how the family would have drawn it up, but he sees promise in the new address. Already locals are leaning in to welcome them to Los Feliz, including many who use to make the drive through Echo Park to get their sandwiches before now. There’s also a large contingent of hospital workers nearby (always a reliable source of lunch and catering income), though dining competition here is much more fierce than being up on the hill at the edge of Chinatown.
Angiuli won’t say if this new location represents a new phase of larger growth for the family, but he and the team aren’t opposed to the idea — as long as they do it their way, like always. “I don’t know,” says Angiuli. “It’s gonna take time. We’re a small place. We’re not some In-N-Out [type] that can just go in anywhere.”
The new Los Feliz location of Eastside Italian Deli opened quietly on Monday, November 15, selling its signature sandwiches (including the number seven, a stack of roast beef and pastrami) Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for now. There’s parking in the back, and patio seating up front at 1761 N. Vermont.