What’s on the menu at La Bella Sangweech, a new place for stacked Italian sandwiches in Little Italy

What’s on the menu at La Bella Sangweech, a new place for stacked Italian sandwiches in Little Italy

Mortadella for president!

A stack of Italian sandwiches

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Name: La Bella Sangweech
Contact: 584 College St., labellasangweech.ca, @labellasangweech
Neighbourhood: Little Italy
Chef-owners: Jess Anelli and Angie Russo
Accessibility: Fully accessible

Around this time last year, Jess Anelli, who works for Holt Renfrew’s marketing department, did not expect to be running a sandwich shop in her spare time. But her life partner, Bryan Nunez, owner of popular College Street club Hush Hush, had leased a large space in Little Italy for a new cocktail bar called Last Call, and he was looking for a food concept to occupy the storefront. “Owning a sandwich shop has always been on my bucket list, so Bryan suggested I go for it. Everything seemed to fit so neatly together that it felt right,” says Anelli, who now co-owns La Bella Sangweech with her friend Angie Russo.

Two women wearing aprons stand next to each other in a sandwich shop
Russo (left) and Anelli

Related: What’s on the menu at Lambo’s Deli, the sub sandwich shop’s new Leslieville location

Though Anelli had no experience in the food industry, sandwiches have always been a big part of her life. “I grew up with a single mother who had to work to support me and my brother,” she says. “So, my nonna provided comfort and care for us when my mother couldn’t.” Her nonna’s love language? Sandwiches. “My fondest childhood memories are of going to my nonna’s house for lunch during school days,” says Anelli. “That feeling of sitting at her table and biting into an Italian sandwich stuffed with meat was just the best.”

A person squirts sauce onto a sandwich

In order to recreate that culinary nostalgia through a modern lens, Anelli recruited Russo—a Toronto hospitality veteran who works for Nunez—to join in her Sangweech dream. “I grew up at St. Clair and Dufferin in a typical Italian family with a mother whose kitchen was open 24/7,” says Russo. “I love and respect food, and I adore the industry. So it was a no-brainer to partner up with Jess.”

La Bella Sangweech is a small sandwich shop with an intentionally restrained menu. Their sandwiches aren’t made to go viral—they aren’t deep-fried or dipped in Takis. Rather, Anelli and Russo simply put forth a comforting collection of refreshingly classic creations (mortadella for president!), with a little bada bing here and a little bada boom there, so that people who try them won’t soon—apologies in advance—fuhgeddaboudit.

A person makes a mortadella sandwich

The food

A mostly carnivorous collection of oversized sandwiches, served on focaccia from neighbouring Riviera Bakery and stuffed with cured meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables and bright sauces. The house favourite is the Mortadella Di Fame, which comes stacked with imported mortadella, stretchy stracciatella and arugula for some peppery crunch, all dressed with a rich house-made truffle aioli.

A capocollo sandwich
The Gabagool sandwich is loaded with spiced and cured capicola, then piled high with sliced provolone and roasted red peppers and drizzled with Angie’s secret Bella Sauce (her unique spin on a Dijon vinaigrette). $15

 

A mortadella sandwich
La Mortadella Di Fame is the simplest sandwich on the menu. Here, the classic Italian lunch meat is topped with an arugula salad and dressed with house-made truffle aïoli. Creamy stracciatella makes the sandwich sing. $16

 

A sandwich made with hot soppressata and Genoa salami
La Godmother is a fiery compilation of hot soppressata and Genoa salami. The heat is balanced by naturally sweet sun-dried tomatoes and rich stracciatella. It gets a little added crunch from arugula and some tang from the signature Bella Sauce. $16

 

A sandwich made with arugula, tomatoes and fresh mozzarella
La Fresca—the lone vegetarian sandwich on the menu—is a familiar but solid rendition of a Caprese sandwich. Here, fresh mozzarella and ripened tomatoes are stuffed between pillowy focaccia with peppery arugula. The sandwich is finished with a drizzle of balsamic glaze that mirrors the sweet and sour notes of the tomatoes. $15

 

A sandwich on focaccia made with mortadella, prosciutto, hot soppressata, capocollo, iceberg lettuce, provolone and mozzarella
Though all the sandwiches are pretty monstrous, La Big Bella—piled with mortadella, prosciutto, hot soppressata, capicola, iceberg lettuce, provolone and mozzarella—is a beast. A salty, briny olive giardiniera cuts through all the delicious fat. $17

 

The drinks

While Anelli and Russo plan to roll out a selection of house-made Italian sodas, for now the drink selection is minimal. The fridge is packed with exclusively Italian sodas, featuring a range of flavoured Pellegrino and sparkling soda water from none other than San Benedetto.

The space

The small shop has the vibe of an old-school Italian deli. Natural light from casement windows—which will open up to College Street in warmer weather—streams into the boldly pink-and-orange space. Taking centre stage of the takeout spot is the tiled lunch counter (hand-built by Anelli and Russo), where hungry patrons order from a menu board featuring the sassy little anthropomorphic logo designed by Anelli. Through a faux fridge door, thirsty patrons can access Last Call, where snacks from Bella’s are available.

A door that looks like a fridge door
This may look like a fridge door…

 

An open door leads into a nightclub
…but it leads into the sandwich spot’s sister nightclub, Last Call

 

A white t-shirt hangs on a door

Three white ball caps that say La Bella Sangweech in pink lettering

The exterior of a sandwich shop