Restaurant of the Week: The Deli

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The Deli, 9671 Foothill Blvd. (at Archibald), Rancho Cucamonga

The Deli is a sandwich-making institution at the epicenter of old Cucamonga, the crossroads of Foothill Boulevard (Route 66) and Archibald Avenue. It’s in half of an old market that apparently dates to the 1920s.

I don’t know the age of The Deli, but it was in full swing in 1997 when I arrived here and it’s still packed at lunchtime, with no obvious change or dropoff in quality.

It’s not an ethnic deli, just a sandwich shop. Most of the sandwiches are hot. They have dip, steak, sausage and chicken sandwiches, burgers, cold cuts, hot dogs and salads. i haven’t made a survey of the menu, but the grilled Cajun chicken breast sandwich ($6, pictured) is my standard order; the burger ($2.89) and Italian steak ($7.69) are pretty good too.

The oak-intensive interior is full of character, especially with the two model trains that chug along on tracks suspended from the ceiling (pictured) and the vintage photos of the intersection that line one wall. The soda machine stands atop an old safe. The shaded patio, which has its own order window, is a nice place to hang too.

At noon, the place is a hive of activity. (It’s open until 8 p.m.) One can’t help but notice that almost every employee is female, an observation a staff photo makes even clearer. Is The Deli an EEOC complaint waiting to happen?

Who knows, maybe it already has. When I visit I’m often reminded of the “Seinfeld” episode in which Elaine files a complaint with the feds against the diner over the pulchritude of its staff, and the investigators, two men, in the name of research become regulars.

But the eye candy is unnecessary (or a bonus, depending on your viewpoint). It’s the food, atmosphere and sense of tradition in a young city that make The Deli well worth a visit.

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‘Everybody’s quoting Manchester Boddy’

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I saw this framed advertisement in the Boddy House at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge on a recent visit. (Sorry for the poor photo.) Manchester Boddy not only wrote a column, he owned the old L.A. Daily News from 1926 to 1954.

His Daily News was the only L.A. paper to support FDR. Boddy ran unsuccessfully for senator against Helen Gahagan Douglas in 1950′s Democratic primary, in which he labeled her the “Pink Lady,” paving the way for Congressman Richard Nixon to defeat her in the general election.

Evidently Boddy was a columnist for his newspaper as well. I’d love to have the Daily Bulletin describe my column as “brilliant” and on everyone’s lips — but it might help if, like Boddy, I signed the promotional department’s paychecks.

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Regarding our restaurant spotlights

You’ve probably noticed our geographical restaurant guide over in the Categories section at lower right. Restaurants that I’ve visited for Restaurant of the Week writeups since this blog began in September 2007 are separated by city for your searching convenience. The lists aren’t at all comprehensive, but they grow longer all the time.

To my knowledge, all of these restaurants are still in operation, even if the writeups are anywhere from one week to nearly four years old. If a restaurant closes, and I know about it, I move the writeup to the Inland Valley Eatin’ category with a note on top that the restaurant has closed. That’s my way of hiding the review so no one drives to the place on my say-so.

If you ever notice that a restaurant in our archives is no longer in business, drop me a line and I’ll take the appropriate action.

In recent weeks I’ve moved Buckboard BBQ (Upland) and Phillips BBQ (Chino) to the Eatin’ file after their closures.

General restaurant topics are also in the Inland Valley Eatin’ category. The Eateries Past subcategory is mostly for “Remember when” posts about various classic restaurants.

While we’re on the subject, older restaurant writeups (2007 and 2008) didn’t have photos, as none of us Bulletin bloggers knew how to incorporate them (our training was zilch), but that’s something I’m very slowly remedying.

I’m not going to re-eat my way through those restaurants, but now and then I’ll revisit a place and at least photograph the exterior. Usually I note here on the home page when photos are added to an old post.

Any questions or comments on any of the above, or on something else regarding my restaurant writeups?

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Own your own Zappa house

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A real estate listing for 257 Oak Park Drive in Claremont bills the house as “the Childhood Home of Legendary Musician Frank Zappa!” Own it for $360,000, reputation included.

The Zappa family lived there beginning about 1959, according to my own research, when Frank was already 18. The family had briefly rented a nearby home on St. Augustine Avenue after relocating from Lancaster. After a few years on West Oak Park Drive the Zappas moved to Palo Verde Street in Montclair before moving away in 1968.

Thanks to the indefatigable, and aptly named, Bob House for forwarding the listing.

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Restaurant of the Week: Roberta’s Village Inn

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Roberta’s Village Inn, 2326 D St. (at Bonita), La Verne

The Village Inn is a diner, not a hotel, in downtown La Verne, open since 1969. I wrote a column about the restaurant, but that was about the ownership change and the people aspect. (I’ll put the column at the end of this writeup.)

Roberta’s is a charming place with Coca-Cola kitsch, gingham curtains, a counter with swivel seats, two dining rooms, a lot of regulars, a friendly staff and a homey atmosphere.

They do breakfast and lunch at Roberta’s, with all the staple items. I had breakfast there with a friend Monday. He had the special, chorizo and eggs ($6, pictured), which he liked. I had pancakes and sausage ($5.75) and had no complaints.

They also do dinner at Roberta’s now, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The menu only has a half-dozen items, but there’s always a special or two. Back in December I had chicken parmigiana over fettucine ($10), which was not only pretty good but enough food to take half home.

I returned two weeks ago for dinner and had lobster ravioli (ooh la la), price forgotten but probably $10 (pictured). The Italian wedding soup is excellent, the ravioli was good (perhaps oversauced) and it’s a good thing for my waistline there were only two garlic knots. Desserts included a couple of cobblers.

So, Roberta’s is a neat little place, where the food is solid if unspectacular. Dinner, though, is better than you’d expect.
Continue reading

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Maybe the Times will run a correction

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Some of us from the Bulletin newsroom went to the Los Angeles Times one recent evening for a Facebook-for-journalism workshop. Afterward we lingered in the building’s First Street-side lobby, which is open to the public and has a timeline, memorabilia and a giant globe. It also has a linotype machine, seen at left, and a plate of hot type used to make a front page in 1974.

Strangely, though, the plaques on each were reversed. The plaque on the linotype machine reads “This is the last plate of hot type set at the Los Angeles Times…” The plaque on the hot-type display begins “This is a linotype machine…”

Get me rewrite!

One wonders how long the plaques have been switched, and how many visitors to the Times on educational tours have left the lobby thoroughly confused … or chuckling, like me.

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Remembering Breakfast at Carl’s

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The former Breakfast at Carl’s building, 2011.

You know you’ve lived in the Inland Valley a long time if you remember when BC Cafe (locations in Claremont and Rancho Cucamonga) was located in Pomona and was known as Breakfast at Carl’s.

Reader April Patterson remembers but has a question about the precise location.

“Could you please clear something up for me? There is a thread on Facebook about Breakfast at Carl’s. I seem to remember them on Holt on the south side of the street just west of East End. And then they moved to Claremont.

“Quite a few people are saying that they were first located at the northeast corner of Holt and East End before IHOP went in. But I lived right around the corner from there from 1968 to 1997 and IHOP is the only thing I remember being there.”

Patterson seems to be correct. I found the minutes of a 1976 Pomona Planning Commission meeting online when Carl’s was applying for a beer and wine license. It was open for breakfast, lunch and dinner then. The location given is the southwest corner of Holt and East End, just as Patterson remembers.

The address, for the record, was 1280 E. Holt. (Bit-o-Sweden is described in the minutes as being “across the street.”)

Those minutes say that Carl’s had been open since 1959 at that location and since 1950 elsewhere in Pomona. Can anyone explain that? My understanding is that founder Carlo Purpero also owned a place named Perp’s Purp’s somewhere in Pomona, which may factor into this equation.

Purpero died in 2010 at age 95, according to his obituary.

Feel free to share what you remember about Carl’s or Perp’s. Oh, and does anyone remember their souffle omelet? I’ve been told that was a specialty, and that if you ask for one at BC, they’ll make it.

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Inland Valley Photo Quiz No. 6

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We haven’t done one of these for a while (the fifth quiz was in December), so here we go.

This photo was taken somewhere in the Inland Valley. But where?

Submit your guesses via the comment feature and the answer will be announced here by tomorrow morning.

* Answer: Roberta’s Village Inn, La Verne. Thanks to Alan for the correct guess and the rest of you (John Bredehoft, Michelle Dubas and Shirley Wofford) for trying. More here about Roberta’s later this week.

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Bowling for Chino Hills

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Has the Chino Valley ever had a bowling alley? There’s certainly not one now in Chino or Chino Hills. Bowlers have to journey to Diamond Bar or Montclair for a game. But Chino Hills is getting a bowling alley. It’s under construction inside a vacant Vons at Chino Hills Parkway at Pipeline Avenue.

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