A Bee-View of the Drive – Tony’s Deli

by admin - February 29th, 2012.
Filed under: Commercial Drive Restaurant Reviews. Tagged as: , , , , , , .

Tony’s Deli, located at 1046 Commercial Drive, just 2 blocks down the hill from the Bee & Thistle Guest House, has been in the neighborhood since 1972. A history like that speaks for itself – they are obviously doing something right!  The second recommendation is that it is one of our grandchildren’s favourite places in the neighborhood to go for a light breakfast, coffee or lunch. I’m not sure they love it primarily because of the food, though I’m sure that is part of it.  They like the friendly staff, the casual atmosphere where they can be themselves and no one makes a fuss, and the fun of ordering their favourite breakfast sandwich, muffin, panini, etc. and mom doesn’t object about the price because it is affordable.  I can state with some certainty that no one goes to Tony’s for the elegant decor – this is a very simple coffee shop, with exposed brick walls, rustic tables, glass display cases filled with their various menu offerings, and serve yourself coffee.  One has to assume that the staff are happy because we have been seeing many of the same faces for all the years we have lived in the neighborhood (7 years now).

If you are going to Tony’s for their freshly baked scones or muffins, get there early as they do sell out almost every day.  They usually offer a couple of varieties of each, along with their dark roast Umbrian coffee, at a very good price. During the early (long) days of painting the interior of our house, which when we bought it was frightening shades of dirty battleship grey (in the kitchen), Home Depot orange (studio suite), an electric shade of mustard yellow and green (on the second floor), etc., we often felt the need to come up for air and would wearily wander down to Tony’s for an emotional and physical boost of freshly baked goods and lots of caffeine.  We do have to admit to a soft spot for this cozy little cafe.  Which is why we are surprised to see that Yelpers are only giving it an average of 3 stars, and one reviewer on DineHere gave it 4 stars, which perhaps only serves to confirm that Tony’s is definitely not Starbucks!

To do our review, we went by there last week for lunch.  We shared a Lasagna special, which came with soup, salad or garlic bread for $5.95, plus tax, and a Spicy Sausage Panini with provolone cheese, home made spicy sausage (a big slab of sausage), balsamic red onion, green pepper and mixed greens for $7.25, plus tax.  Both were tasty, bearing in mind that they are pre-made and then warmed for service so don’t expect a waiter disappearing into the kitchen and reappearing with a chef’s creation just off the grill.  Portions are definitely generous and we could have shared only the sandwich and been satisfied.  The minestrone soup we chose for our side with the lasagna was hearty and filled with beans and veggies.  We also enjoyed the Umbrian coffee, which comes in 3 sizes but we opted for the 12 oz for $1.75.  As far as we know, most of the menu offerings are made in house – you can peek over the wall and watch the kitchen staff mass producing sandwiches, muffins, scones, etc. Tony’s also has a catering service, which we have not tried so cannot comment on.

If you find yourself wandering down the Drive or waiting at the nearby bus stop, and have a sudden caffeine urge, a very convenient little touch is the street side window service where one can pick up a coffee for only a loonie!  Handy and cheap!

We would sum up our comments about Tony’s Deli by simply saying that it’s part of the culture on Commercial Drive, a great place to sit in the window and people watch, or at the tables with “real” neighborhood people, and enjoy a very acceptable snack or lunch at great prices. It has very little snob appeal but if you’re looking for a casual, comfortable atmosphere and food such as your mom might make, we think you will enjoy a visit to Tony’s.