It looks like I've missed many opportunities to visit Rock n' Jenny's Italian Subs. The East Coast style Italian deli has been dishing up sandwiches and pasta since 1989, and I've always driven right past the Escondido strip mall it calls home.
When I finally noticed the place last week, I misread the sign as "Rockn' Jenny's," assuming Jenny must have been a huge fan of the hair metal that dominated the charts in '89. But that's not it. Turns out the name refers to Rock and Jenny, the father and daughter who founded the business. I'm glad, because their sandwiches have aged better than most of that music.
And those sandwiches start with the turkey sub. "This one made us famous!" says the menu. I admit I found the claim dubious — not disputing any local fame the deli has acquired in 30 years, but since when is any turkey sub good enough to be considered fame-worthy?
I didn't even want to commit my full lunch to something so mundane, so I ordered a six-inch sandwich (rather than nine or twelve) and supplemented with another six inch of my usual Italian deli favorite: a meatball sub.
After ordering at the counter, both sandwiches were brought to my table, each cut into two adorable small halves. I started with half the turkey and then moved on to try half the meatball.
The meatball was good: warm with oregano-rich meatballs, melted mozzarella, and tangy marinara that seeped into the interior of a warm, crusty Italian roll so it resembled the moist, doughy texture you find hiding under the cheese of a pizza. It's all that I look for in a meatball sub, and I enjoyed it.
1044 W. Valley Parkway, Escondido
But to my surprise, I didn't like it as much as the turkey.
This has never happened. Why should I like a cold sandwich better than a hot one? How could I crave turkey and mayo over ground beef and marinara?
For starters, the turkey itself tasted good. The shredded lettuce and thinly sliced tomato were fresh, and there was a splash of Italian dressing to add an herbal kick of vinegar that kept it from being boring. That Italian sub more than held everything together. It's a great, crunchy, yet soft-in-the-middle roll. Even when the turkey ran out at the end of my sandwich, its last, bready bite satisfied.
There are just shy of 20 sandwiches on the Rock n' Jenny's menu, and I don't know which I'll try next. Whether it be pastrami, chicken parmesan, the beef au jus, or one stacked with Italian cold cuts, I'll probably get a small turkey sandwich to go with it. It's famous, you know. And it does rock.