Occasionally, ordering a sandwich from an unorthodox establishment provides a lovely surprise. Unfortunately, the “lovely surprise” is the exception rather than the rule. Cafe Bellissimo is a brand-new establishment in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles; a curious amalgamation of “light Italian fare” and an array of salads, with a prominent pastry counter on display. I ducked into this “cafe” to see whether they had sandwiches on offer, and indeed they did. Of the few selections, I opted for the BBQ Chicken on the counter attendant’s advice.
When a sandwich calls itself a “BBQ Chicken” sandwich, there are two possibilities as to what you will receive: either a flame-grilled, honestly-barbecued piece of chicken on a hearty roll, or a chicken breast slathered in BBQ sauce obtained, one can only imagine, from a squeeze bottle. There is no middle ground. Since this cafe was a tiny storefront with no discernible kitchen, that should have been my first hint as to which option I would receive. I was instructed to choose my own bread and cheese, which in a non-deli, non-Subway environment, is the first clue that you’re about to have a less-than-spectacular sandwich. My fears were realized when I unwrapped the sandwich. The bread seemed slightly stale. The chicken was indeed bathed in a substandard BBQ sauce. The tomato was unyielding, but not as tough as the chicken, which had the texture of meat that has been pre-cooked and microwaved back to a reasonable temperature.
The Bellissimo Cafe has an extremely friendly staff and wonderful pastries, and I assume their bread and butter (as it were) is with their Italian fare and salads. Unfortunately, their sandwich selection is lacking on many levels. If they insist on offering sandwiches (as it appears they feel compelled to do so), they should play to their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses. Just because your establishment can serve sandwiches does not mean that it necessarily should.