Far off from the bustling food mecca that is San Francisco, past the hyper-organic lifestyles in Berkeley, hidden in the East Bay super-suburb of Walnut Creek, sits Morruci’s Si Mangia Bene. Hidden under a freeway overpass, pushed to the outskirts away from all the Forever 21 outlet malls, this classic Italian sandwich shop would be easy to forget. But no one ever seems to. The parking lot out back, hidden with a narrow driveway is always full. The shabby patio furniture out front is always occupied, and unless your trip is perfectly timed, there will probably be a line. So why does everyone seem to love tracking down this non-descript location? In a word: quality.
The sandwich shop is a locals-only secret (oops!) that is carefully passed down from generation to generation of high schoolers and given as a sacred right to people newly arriving into local offices. Each of these comes with the hushed whisper of a number, the knowledgeable veteran’s “sandwich to get”. The funny thing, though, is that each person passes down a different number. Whether it’s the number 1 piled high with Italian meats cut right in front of you or the legendary number 8 overflowing with pastrami, everyone seems to have their own favorites here, and no one seems to be in the wrong.
Beyond the obvious pull of the delicious sandwiches, Morruci’s friendly sandwich makers are another reason why the humble sandwich shop has seen such success. A smile is guaranteed as soon as you walk in the door, and within a few visits you will be welcomed in on a first-name basis, and if you’re lucky with a question of “One of the usual?” It may be a simple combination, but one can never underestimate the importance of serving great food at good prices with a friendly atmosphere. Move quickly, though; something this good can’t stay hidden forever.