A long, pleasant, two-sandwich lunch
BMH Italian wasn’t open yet, but I could smell the bread baking, so I parked it on a bench outside and waited. 10:30 a.m. may have been a little on the early side for lunch, but I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and I’d been eager to return to the little family-owned spot in La Mesa since stumbling upon it while getting my car serviced in the neighborhood a couple of years ago.
This small Italian deli in la Mesa says it’s not going anywhere
That time, I’d picked up a five-dollar torpedo — the classic Italian deli staple synonymous with a hoagie — served here with ham and both cotto and genoa salamis. The torpedo goes for $6.75 these days, and it’s worth it. For a little more, BMH offers other, similarly provolone-topped cold sandwiches that introduce Italian meats such as capicola, mortadella, or soppressata, but I had been happy enough with the torpedo to repeat.
What I really wanted to dig into was the hot sandwich side of the menu. There’s a lot to try, including a housemade sausage, an au jus roast beef, and muffuletta that I would have ordered had I made it that far down the menu.
But right there on top of the list was the meatball sub. I looked no further. Aside from the deli restaurant, which is basically a handful of vinyl covered tabletops, BMH — which bears the initials of its three original founders — sells a few shelves’ worth of imported Italian goods, including risotto and canned San Marzano tomatoes. I had to suppose the meatballs and marinara would be decent for $7.75.
7670 El Cajon Boulevard, La Mesa
And it was. Succulent, finely ground beef, seasoned with a little fennel, a little oregano. That bread really cinches it, soft and chewy, absorbing the tomato sauce and holding up well against the melted provolone.
It serves the torpedo well too, and probably any sandwich you throw at it. Lunch started at 10:30 a.m., but with a couple of tasty hoagies at my disposal I managed to drag it out past 2.
A Reader story last year suggest BMH might get swept up in property development in the area, but one of the owners assured me all that’s happening across the street and this restaurant will be around for years to come.