First bites: Matano’s Little Italy

Oh, how I hate giving away my secrets.

But some secrets are too good not to share.

Matano’s Little Italy, a tiny Italian deli in old town Yucaipa, is one such secret.

A co-worker had told me about them, and my initial attempt to try Matano’s ended in failure when I got to the shop and saw a note that they were on vacation…for a month.

Undaunted, I returned a few weeks later and am I ever glad I was persistent.

I had the best sandwich I’ve had in a very long time.

I ordered the aptly-named Amore sandwich, which is filled with mortadella, provolone, roasted peppers and pesto ($6.50 for a 6-inch).

Oh, that pesto!

It was delicious. Flavors exploded in my mouth with each bite!

My lunch partner ordered one of their hot sandwiches — the Napoletano — which has sliced chicken breast, mozzarella and marinara ($10 for a 10-inch).

Sandwiches are topped with lettuce, Roma tomato, red onion and pepperoncini and dressed with either olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Italian seasoning or mayonnaise and mustard.

You can get your sandwich on either a hard or soft roll.

Since it’s a deli, they also have an assortment of salads and other sides, such as stuffed mushrooms. They also sell slices of their Boar’s Head meats and cheeses for you to take home.

They even have a small selection of Italian items: pastas, cookies, cakes and such.

If you’re lucky, they won’t have already sold out of their freshly-filled cannoli for dessert. Or maybe you’d prefer some house-made tiramisu.

It’s not the cheapest place in town…our lunch for two topped $20, but it was worth every penny. But then again, this isn’t one of those chain sub shops.

The ingredients are top-notch, fresh and abundant. Like most Italian food, these hearty sandwiches will stay with you for a while.

Sandwiches start at $6 for a 6-inch and max out at $10 for a 10-inch.

Just how good is Matano’s Little Italy?

My first visit was a week ago. I’ve already been back.

Matano’s is at 12114 California St. (at Yucaipa Boulevard). They’re open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

You can reach them at 909-797-3444.