In my ongoing quest to find a suitable replacement for Hoagie Hut and their Godfather sandwich, I took a trip out to El Segundo's the Original Rinaldi's. However a little bit of background on Hoagie Hut might be in order first.
Hoagie Hut was a small sandwich shop on 3rd Street right across from the Beverly Connection. The owner was a real character who used to call everyone "Tiger" or "Babe" regardless of gender. He reminded me of Sal from "Do the Right Thing." From what I understand, he and his wife used to own one of the first strip clubs in L.A. with a mirrored ceiling or runway. I used to go there almost every week to get a jumbo Godfather (thick-sliced mortadella, cotto salami, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and Italian dressing for only $5.40), a bag of chips, and a Yoohoo. Before that, my grandparents used to go there when the restaurant was only half the size. The owner sold the restaurant about seven years ago, and since then it's changed hands and cuisines a couple more times. I have yet to find an Italian cold cut sandwich that fills the hole in my heart and my stomach.
So I must admit I didn't have high hopes for the Original Rinaldi's. The staff behind the counter was primarily Asian which is not who I think of when I think "sandwich shop." I ended up ordering an Italian combo which consisted of thick-sliced pepperoni, salami, cappy (cappicola), oil & vinegar, lettuce, tomato, and provolone. Incidentally the Original Rinaldi's features a Godfather sandwich, but it's made with salami, cappy, pepperoni, steak, bacon, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and provolone cheese and it's served hot. I might have to try that next time. There was no yoohoo so I just had an iced tea.
When the sandwich arrived, it was quite sizable. The large is a 10" sandwich versus the regular 6". It's not much for presentation, but once I tucked the meat in, it was far from being a slouch. I've never been particularly fond of cappicola, but I've found myself enjoying it more and more lately. The Italian combo was deceptively filling, due to its limited but very thickly sliced meats. They use Boar's Head so taste-wise it's not a whole lot different. It's pretty hard to make a really distinguishable Italian sub. The olive oil & vinegar was a nice touch and better than at most other places. All in all, I ended up being pleasantly surprised despite my first impressions.
So the Original Rinaldi's probably won't replace Hoagie Hut (and neither will you delicious Bay Cities), but it has a quality Italian cold cut sandwich that I wouldn't mind returning to.
Some other interesting notes about the Original Rinaldi's:
- 4 out of 7 on my mess-o-meter. If you tuck the meat in right at the beginning, you'll avoid a lot of the mess later. Some salad might fall out, but overall you shouldn't require a great deal of napkins. It also helps to have big hands and a big mouth.
- I really should have taken advantage of their abundance of potato chips, but since I was in a bit of a rush, I just stuck to the sandwich. But that doesn't mean you have to.
- If I had to rank Italian cold cuts thus far: Hoagie Hut's Godfather, Central Grocery's Muffelata, Original Rinaldi's Italian Combo, Philly's Best's Italian Hoagie, Bay Cities Deli's Sopressata, Sorrento Italian Market's Cold Combo Sandwich, Which Wich's Italian Grinder, Bay Cities Deli's Godmother, Togo's Italian Cold Cut #16, Quizno's Classic Italian, Subway's Italian B.M.T., Subway's Spicy Italian.
The Original Rinaldi's
323 Main Street
El Segundo, CA 90245