Heroic Deli & Wine Bar
Cacio y Pepe Arancini
Nonna’s Gnudi – Ricotta, Spinach, Sage Brown Butter, Parmigiano Reggiano
Polpo Croccante – Crispy Octopus, Parsley Potato Salad
Triofe al Pesto – Basil, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Pine Nuts
OMG Sandwich – Prosciutto, Salame, Capocollo, Mortadella, Porchetta, Smoked Mozzarella, Artichokes, Giardinnaire, Roasted Tomatoes, Olives, Mustard, Mayo, Summer Truffles, Toasted Ciabatta
Although the number of self-proclaimed “foodies” has grown tremendously over the past decade there are few who can rival Jeffrey Merrihue’s gastronomic exploits, so when the author and former chairman of MOFILM decided to launch Heroic Deli & Wine Bar in Santa Monica it only seemed right to see if travel experience yields expertise in areas such as menu design, ingredient sourcing and customer service.
Opened in December of 2018 at 516 Santa Monica Boulevard, and tapping Executive Chef Barbara Pollastrini to produce day and night menus that range from housemade Chips and Sandwiches to $36 plates of Pasta, it was at the start of Happy Hour that three guests sat adjacent the Wine Bar, some tables still holding evidence of departed guests while reggae played overhead at much too high a volume.
Propping doors open to allow air in from outside, the two-story space nicely designed and highlighted by a piece of art featuring several types of butterflies, it was after declining Wines “rated 90+ points” that decisions were made, only a few other diners at 3:00pm on Saturday ensuring fast service though the quantity of Doordash, Postmates and Uber Eats drivers parading in and out was impossible to ignore.
Sipping Water and a housemade Arnold Palmer, the latter intensely sour but refreshing per those who partook, it was perhaps ten minutes after seating that course one arrived featuring an oversized Rice Ball and “Nonna’s Gnudi,” the former yielding creamy contents and bold flavor beneath its golden-brown exterior while the $16 green orb harkened Saag Paneer with more Salt at nearly double the cost per bite of Marc Vetri’s legendary Spinach Gnocchi.
Aware of Santa Monica’s pricey real estate, while at the same time looking at average ingredient costs and a skeleton staff, it was after a visit from the Italian born Chef that course two again consisted of two items, the $24 “Polpo Croccante” an impressive composition of poached then sautéed Octopus atop fragrant Potatoes while “Triofe al Pesto” was a fair portion for its price, though the Noodles seemed a little undercooked and thus doughy beneath the aromatic blend of Herbs and Cheeses.
Finishing up with Heroic Deli & Wine Bar’s signature item, a Hero dubbed “OMG,” suffice it to say that this should be a go-to for all but vegans or vegetarians thanks to a quintet of Meats stacked high and topped with vibrant Vegetables plus Mustard, Mayo and Truffles, all of it somehow balanced and absolutely delicious inside of crunchy toasted Bread.