After nearly a century of waiting, LA’s staple sandwich shop Eastern Italian Deli has expanded to new excavations in Los Feliz. The original store, nestled in the low hills of Chinatown along Highway 110, has been a constant destination for roast beef, Italian deli, and sausage and pepper sandwiches for decades. And now, co-owner Vito Angiuli says it’s time to expand the business to a new, younger audience.
âThe opportunity was there,â he says. âThe different clientele, the different environment. We wanted to grow, but we never really had the opportunity.
Angiuli’s opportunity came in the form of Rocco’s gated space in Vermont, itself a former Italian grocery store. For years, Rocco’s did well in space, but they never captured the city’s long-term attention like places like Eastside Italian Deli or Santa Monica’s Bay Cities did. Angiuli knew Rocco’s family, having run in the same event circles, and when they approached him about a possible sale – in the midst of a pandemic no less – Angiuli said the moment, d one way or another, seemed right.
The family self-funded the business, toppling the long, narrow restaurant themselves in just a few months. Part of the reason it took the Eastside team so long to grow, Angiuli explains, is that they never wanted to take someone else’s investment money.
“My father and my uncle from the old country,” he said, [original] shop was enough for them. They worked and fought hard to get what they had, just like any immigrant.
Angiuli admits the timing, with labor issues, supply chain issues and ongoing mandates following the pandemic, isn’t exactly as the family would have worked out, but it sees a promise in the new address. Already, locals are bending down to greet them in Los Feliz, including many who used to walk through Echo Park to get their sandwiches before now. There is also a large contingent of hospital workers nearby (always a reliable source of income for lunch and catering), although the competition for meals here is much fiercer than being on the hill by the waterfront. Chinatown.
Angiuli won’t say if this new location represents another bigger phase of growth for the family, but he and the team aren’t averse to the idea – as long as they do it their own way, as always. âI don’t know,â Angiuli says. “That is going to take time. We are a small place. We are not In-N-Outs [type] who can enter anywhere.
The new location in Los Feliz of Eastside Italian Deli quietly opened on Monday, November 15, selling its signature sandwiches (including number seven, a stack of roast beef and pastrami) Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., for now. There is rear parking and a front patio at 1761 N. Vermont.