We’re in our eighth week of our Year In The Life Of A Sandwich food tour here on MBIP and one place I want to go to is Leonardo’s/La Gondola Spaghetti House on War Memorial Drive. I haven’t been there since we did our pizza tour back in April of 2014, so I think we’re overdue for a visit. And we have a special guest star joining us today and she’s not only going to have lunch with us...
She’s driving us there! This is my friend Mary Jo and we’ve been friends since we were in the sixth grade together at St. Vincent grade school! This is the first time she’s appearing on the blog, so let’s give a big MBIP round of applause to Mary Jo, who’s had to suffer through five decades of being my friend!
Okay, here we are at Leonardo’s. This place has been sitting in the same place here on War Memorial Drive for over 40 years! It’s a real Peoria tradition and I’m anxious to try a certain sandwich in here, it’s something I’ve been hungry for since I moved back here over three years ago! As we enter I see a familiar face behind the counter, it’s Wiley, who was here back in 2014 when we came here for the pizza tour! Great to see him again!
The menu for the pizza and sandwiches hangs over the front counter. AS you can see, there’s a good choice of sandwiches to be had in here, but Wiley told me that The Torpedo is the signature sandwich, so that’s what I ordered. That’s the sandwich I was anxious to try and we’ll take a look at it soon, but first there’s a few orders in front of us, so Mary Jo and I are going to grab a seat and then I’m going to take a look around in here.
Here’s the booth that we settled into. And now like I always do when I have a guest along here at MBIP, I have to abandon Mary Jo for a few minutes to take some photos inside of here. We’ll see you in a few minutes, Mary Jo!
Two things that I absolutely love in here is the bunches of plastic grapes hanging from the ceiling in here and the tree that’s in the middle of the dining room! As you can see from the photos, comfortable booths line the walls in here and there’s a comfortable waiting area opposite the front counter for those that are waiting for an order to take home. I also love the mini stained glass chandeliers dangling over the booths. The atmosphere in here is really nice!
Wiley told me I could go back into the kitchen when they’re preparing this week’s sandwich and he just told me they’re ready to go, so let’s head back to the kitchen and watch the making of this week’s sandwich! I’m so excited!
Kristina is building our sandwich, which is the signature sandwich here called, The Torpedo. It’s a submarine deli sandwich made on freshly baked bread with ham, salami, cheese and lettuce. This sandwich may sound familiar to some of you and it does to me too. But I’m not going to talk about that other sandwich because I’ve had a bad experience there and I try to stay positive here on MBIP, so let’s just leave that alone...well, I’m just going to throw out the fact that this doesn’t look like a corporate sandwich at all and I’ll leave it at that!
And here’s the Torpedo in all its glory! It really looks like a magnificent sandwich, but now I can’t stop thinking about the other sandwich...you know, the “corporate sandwich.” Okay, for those of you that aren’t familiar with what I’m talking about, I’ll just address it right now to clear the air. In the past, I had some problems with Avanti’s Restaurant. I went there to try their Gondola sandwich over three years ago and got attitude from the asshole waiter there and was smugly told I had to go through their “corporate office” to take pictures inside of there. That bothered me, but I tried to give them a second chance when I did the MBIP Year Of Pizza Tour and things went even worse on that post. But now, as I look at this sandwich and these past memories are haunting me, I know that only one thing has to happen and it has to happen right now and that thing is...
Yes, it’s time for a throwdown between these two sandwiches that at face value seem to be the same, but are they really? Let’s take a look at both of them (I got an Avanti’s gondola after my trip to Leonardo’s and took pictures of it back in MBIP World Headquarters.) So here’s the two sandwiches. I ordered both of them with extra meat and cheese and the thing I notice right off the bat is the bread. The Torpedo’s bread is golden brown outside and flaky inside. Wiley told me that the bread is baked fresh daily at the restaurant. The Gondola’s bread doesn’t look as good. In fact it looks downright anemic with what appears to be age spots appearing like blotches on top of it. Ecch! Round one goes to The Torpedo!
Let’s flip the lid on these sandwiches and look at the inside ingredients. Well, once again the Torpedo looks a lot fresher and the Gondola kind of looks like it was sitting around pre-made for a while. I know that the Torpedo was just made fresh, but I’m not sure about the Gondola because Avanti’s doesn’t allow you in the kitchen unless you know the secret corporate handshake and MBIP doesn’t play that game. Round Two Winner: The Torpedo!
Here’s the sandwich cut into pieces. Once again, the bread on the Torpedo looks a lot fresher and appetizing and remember I told you I ordered both sandwiches with extra meat and cheese? Well, the Torpedo has delivered on that order, but the Gondola seems to have added more lettuce than anything. So it looks like Round Three also goes to: The Torpedo!
The final and most important part of a food throwdown (just ask Bobby Flay and I should know, I used to live around the corner from his restaurant and called him Emeril once. He didn’t think that was funny for some reason!) is the taste and I have to tell you that The Torpedo wins this hands down! The bread is bakery fresh and has just a hint of sweetness to it and the cold cuts, cheese and lettuce are plentiful, fresh and tasty. The Gondola’s bread is a little on the stale side and really has no taste to it at all. Even though I ordered it with extra meat and cheese, those ingredients are kind of on the skimpy side are overpowered by the lettuce which is kind of wilty and limp. And so the winner of the MBIP Sandwich Throwdown is: The Torpedo! Okay, time to get back to our original post!
Here we are at our booth, the sandwich has been delivered and Mary Jo got the personal pan pizza.
This not only looks like a delicious sandwich...
It tastes like one too! The bread is so fresh and the ingredients are plentiful and tasty, a wonderful sandwich and how nice that I can take pictures in here without having to get permission from some corporate weasels in an office! Thanks to Wiley and Kristina for wonderful hospitality and a delicious sandwich and to Mary Jo for joining me and for her friendship through the years! Great to see you and hang out with you as always, Mary Jo! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
MBIP Sandwich Rating
Three and three quarters Dagwood Bumsteads—If you’re looking for a great gondola sandwich, skip the corporate mumbo-jumbo eateries and head over to Leonardo’s for a great and fresh sandwich!