Recently, I visited a popular restaurant close to where I live called California Sandwiches. This restaurant has had a lot of hype around it and it should.
The Ajax location opened in 2019 and it took over another restaurant called Safari which also had good reviews. California Sandwiches has been around since the mid-1960s in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood.
The Papa and Bertucci families bought a grocery store that would later be converted into a restaurant with the hope of supporting a growing family. The chain got its name when the Papa and Bertucci girls went on vacation, came back tanned and all the customers began to call them “California girls.”
Going into the restaurant, it has a sports bar vibe to the atmosphere. Not only were there people watching sports at the bar, watching their bets go down the drain, but you also heard plates clanging and chefs shouting. The restaurant also had a little bit of a gastropub vibe, with music playing. It added a nice touch to the place.
The location of the restaurant is in a good spot. You’re right next to more restaurants like Zen Caribbean Cuisine, and you’re across from the Pickering Village, which is nice because after eating you can go look at different shops and maybe buy a souvenir. The only concern I have about the location is parking. There are limited spots and on a busy night, parking can be a bit of a challenge.
I ordered the veal sandwich with nothing on it except tomato sauce. The total came to $14.62 which is crazy for just a sandwich, but if customers are paying that price for a single sandwich, it must be great.
The sandwich was so heavy I could literally throw it at a car window and it would break. I opened the sandwich and there was a heavy distribution of tomato sauce which I thought was going to overpower the flavour.
The veal was very tender and juicy. The sandwich was served on a brioche bun, which would have been better toasted. I also should’ve added toppings like cheese, onions, pickles and bacon. The overall taste would’ve been better, but I blame myself for that, not California Sandwiches.
Another concern I would add is sometimes the veal would easily slip out of the bun, which was annoying at times, but I got used to it. The service was only three minutes long which shocked me and put a smile on my face.
Even though there were only a few people there, I thought I would have to wait ten minutes for my sandwich, but the fact that I got it so quickly is worthy of a two-thumbs up to the staff. The workers were nice and helpful because it was my first time going there and they told me which sandwich is the most popular and what I should add to it.
Overall, California Sandwiches was a great experience. From getting there, to the location, to eating the sandwich, it is definitely a good place to grab a bite to eat and watch sports with your buddies.
Even though there were minor mishaps, like the non-toasted bun and limited parking, it is one of the best food options I have experienced in the Durham Region. If you are a first-timer, make sure you order the veal sandwich, sit down in their gastro-like dining room and enjoy a view of Pickering Village.