By Guss Firestein
In my past two columns, I have written about establishments near campus so that people who don’t have cars are able to check out these places. This week, however, I felt the need to write about my favorite deli in the area only accessible by motor vehicle: La Gioia. Located down Van Vranken in a residential neighborhood, approximately 1.3 miles from campus at the intersection by Rite Aid, La Gioia is a small local deli with a range of delicious options to choose from. I actually didn’t go to La Gioia until I was a junior; it is a long walk and students don’t typically head down Van Vranken, and therefore would be unlikely to see La Gioia.
The first time I ventured down Van Vranken to go check out La Gioia, I had a surprisingly hard time locating it. The building looks like a house with an indistinct façade that blends discreetly into its surroundings. Also, parking is at a premium; you can park along the side of the building or try and park along the street nearby.
However, the people who work there are always friendly and love to see Union students walk in. You can use your GrubStub and Dutchmen Dollars here. I think that not making the effort is a great loss. La Gioia is one of those places that can become a staple part of your Schenectady dining experiences.
Coming to Union, there were a couple different food places I needed to survive; one spot I definitely needed was a good deli. This place has a great meat selection and all the best ingredients. My deli-dining experience has taught me that the key ingredients to a good sandwich are fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers—the combination is unbelievable!
Another splendid thing is that they carry Perecca’s bread. I’ll admit that sometimes this bread can make the meal just too much to handle, but on those days you want a nice sandwich on good bread, having Perecca’s bread is the way to go.
The best thing is that they really pack their sandwiches, so you feel like you are getting your money’s worth. The subs are soft and perfect, allowing you to focus on the flavor rather than how impossible it is to bite through the bread (which can sometimes be the occasion at certain delis).
I have gone to La Gioia so many times that I think I have mastered the deli sandwich. The process was tough; it went through several stages, but I think I have figured it out. I typically just go with their subs and start off with the roasted peppers and fresh mozzarella. The meat and sauce are the true “make or break” factors of any perfect deli sandwich. Just a hint to you young ones: I tend to go with buffalo chicken and roast beef (may sound like a weird mix, but it’s super good). To top it off, throw on some honey mustard. One of my failed attempts included trying oil and vinegar for a while, but I realized that the sweetness of the honey mustard is perfect.
It’s super inexpensive and I promise you will always leave feeling good. They also have lots of different Italian foods such as sausages, cheeses, olives, and cookies to name a few. If you have a car, definitely get over there and check out this food. If you don’t have a car, beg for a ride or take a taxi.