Sandwich of the Week: Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Shop’s Breaded Eggplant

A local legend
This breaded eggplant sandwich is just one of the many sandwiches Mario's has to offer.

Don’t be fooled by the name, this legendary cafe does not sell cigars.

Located in a neighborhood northeast of San Francisco called North Beach, the cafe was originally owned by Mario Crismani and his wife, Liliana in the early 1920s. Since then, his son, Paul, and his wife, Debbie, have taken over. The Marina Times reported the cafe to be “an unlikely combination of old school, North Beach Italian, and young, finger-snapping pop culture,” reaching out to both the old and young audience.

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With an array of salads, oven baked focaccia sandwiches, pizza, hot dishes, pastries, and numerous beers, wines, coffees, and teas, this bustling cafe is most recognized for their oven baked focaccia sandwiches.

One of their most popular sandwiches is the breaded eggplant, which sells for $10.50. On toasted focacia, the crispy breaded and fried eggplant gently lies below roasted red bell peppers, melted Swiss cheese, and onions. Sweet marinara sauce is painted on both slices of bread to moisten the sandwich and bring all the flavors together.

No worries if you’re looking to customize your sandwich; you can opt for other options such as grilled eggplant, feta cheese, or balsamic dressing. Other popular items include chicken panini with sun dried tomatoes, pesto, pepper jack, and arugula, or the combo with ham, Swiss cheese, salami, onions, and mayo or mustard.

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