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Food & Drink

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

Including all of their hits and a very fun lineup of pop

By Liza Agrba| Photography by Marc Santos
A stack of submarine sandwiches next to a bottle of Fanta at Lambo's Deli in Leslieville, Toronto

Name: Lambo’s Deli
Contact: 1372 Queen St. E, lambosdeli.ca, @lambosdeli
Neighbourhood: Leslieville
Owners: Justin Leon and Cristóbal Bascuñán Chef: Cristóbal Bascuñán Accessibility: Not fully accessible

Lambo’s original location, on Bellwoods Avenue, used to be a convenience store frequented by co-owner Justin Leon in his teens. When Leon signed the lease in March of 2020, he was working in sales, but growing up in a food-loving Lebanese and Italian family drew him to the restaurant industry. Subs weren’t supposed to be the focus—in the beginning, Leon wanted to sell groceries and pantry staples alongside sandwiches inspired by NYC icons like Faicco’s and Defonte’s. And then the pandemic hit. Leon and Lambo’s co-owner Cristóbal Bascuñán spent six months renovating the space, biding their time and assessing the industry fallout. Finally, on October 2, 2020, they just crossed their fingers and opened.

Lambo's Deli owners Justin Leon and Cristóbal Bascuñán inside their Leslieville location
Leon (left) and Bascuñán

Their stacked sandwiches were an instant hit, which prompted them to shift from a mini grocer to a decidedly sandwich-forward takeout operation. But, since the original business plan didn’t involve churning out hundreds of sandwiches every day, there wasn’t sufficient prep space for the growing demand. The pair spent two years looking for a larger second location before landing in Leslieville.

Now, with nearly double the space of the original location, there’s room to grow—and Leon, a long-time west-ender, is feeling the east-end love. “I’ve essentially been living here for the last eight months as we set up, and the vibe of the neighbourhood is fantastic,” he says. “Leslieville is an incredible community—vibrant, charming and friendly.”

The exterior of Lambo's Deli, a sandwich shop in Leslieville, Toronto
The food

As always with deceptively simple fare, the devil is in the details. Here, every sandwich is thoughtfully composed, both in concept and in practice. Virtually all of the add-ins (spreads, sauces, pickles) are made in-house. Meats and cheeses—like imported Italian mortadella, prosciutto crudo and fior di latte—are sliced daily for optimal flavour and texture. As for the bread, Lambo’s developed its signature bun in partnership with Tre Mari Bakery. It’s somewhere between a baguette and a classic sub bun, with a crunchy exterior, a sesame seed coating and a light, fluffy crumb that doesn’t pull as you chow down.

The selection of sandwich toppings at Lambo's Deli in Toronto
Staff slices a submarine sandwich in half at Lambo's Deli

With this foundation, Lambo’s built its tight menu of fan favourites, including the Italian Trio (soppressata, prosciutto, mortadella), dressed with a punchy house-made Calabrian chili spread. Overall, the menu is similar to the Bellwoods shop, with a few tweaks and refreshes (for instance, all the mayo was replaced with roasted garlic aioli). With all the extra room, regulars can look forward to more variety in the future, including hot sandwiches.

The Italian Trio sub sandwich at Lambo's Deli in Leslieville
Lambo’s most popular item is the Italian Trio, a triumvirate of fennel-forward Abruzzo soppressata, mortadella and prosciutto layered with fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, red onions and arugula and dressed with house-made pesto and punchy Calabrian chili spread. Like all Lambo’s sandwiches, it’s finished with olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and salt and pepper. $16

 

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The Classic Combo sub sandwich at Lambo's Deli is a take on a traditional assorted hoagie
Here we have a Classic Combo in progress—Lambo’s take on a traditional hoagie. The base is shaved iceberg (cut on the deli slicer for optimal lettuce ribbons), tomato, provolone and red onion paired with Genoa salami, smoked Black Forest ham, coppa and house-made roasted garlic aioli and giardiniera. $16

 

A finished Classic Combo sub sandwich at Lambo's Deli
And here it is, ready for consumption

 

A mortadella sub sandwich at Lambo's Deli topped with arugula, pickled red onions and fennel, giardiniera and whipped ricotta
This is their refreshed mortadella sub topped with arugula, pickled red onions and fennel, giardiniera, and whipped ricotta laced with honey and lemon zest. It’s just the right mix of accoutrements to let the morty shine. $15

 

A finished mortadella submarine sandwich at Lambo's Deli in Leslieville
And here’s the finished product

 

The tuna submarine sandwich at Toronto's Lambo's Deli
This one is a real sleeper hit. The zippy, delectable tuna sandwich is inspired by vitello tonnato, the classic Italian dish of veal with tuna and capers. No veal here, though, just high-grade canned Albacore dressed with house-made lemon-caper aioli, Calabrian chili spread, pickled red onion, arugula, crunchy radish and a pop of parsley-based salsa verde. $15

 

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The smoked turkey bacon club sub at Lambo's Deli
Another menu addition is the Smoked Turkey Bacon Club, complete with provolone, tomato, red onion, iceberg and roasted garlic aioli. Crispy bacon, sweet provolone and a perfectly balanced aioli give the smoked turkey its due. $16
The drinks

Behold the pop lineup of your sub shop dreams. There’s Topo Chico, a solid selection of Italian soda, Mexican Squirt, Orange Fanta, Boylan’s Cream Soda, a few of La Croix’s fun underrated flavours (like Beach Plum and Black Razzberry), Jarritos, Vernor’s Ginger Soda, and vanilla and cherry Coke.

Bottles of Jarritos, Topo Chico and Ting at Lambo's Deli in Toronto
A case of Squirt pop
Cans of pop, LaCroix and Italian sodas inside the fridge at Lambo's Deli in Leslieville
The space

The spacious, sun-drenched room at the corner of Queen and Greenwood is decked out in Lambo’s signature green-and-white colour palette. Behind a cheerful menu display that declares “From our deli to your belly!” there’s a big open kitchen. Like the Bellwoods shop, this is still a takeout-focused operation, though there are a few seats at the window. And near the display of Covered Bridge chips and pop, there’s a selection of branded merch.

The counter and menu at Lambo's Deli in Toronto
Inside Lambo's Deli, a submarine sandwich shop in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood
The inside of Lambo's Deli in Leslieville, with a few barstools at the window for dine-in customers
A shelf stacked with bags of Covered Bridge potato chips and cans of Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes
A roll of branded stickers at Lambo's Deli
The menu at Lambo's Deli in Leslieville, Toronto
Lambo's Deli–branded t-shirts
T-shirts with the address of the Leslieville location are in the works.

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