Headed by industry veteran chef Jesse Mutch, who is best known for leading the kitchen at Chantecler, comes this pint-sized sandwich pop-up tucked away in west-end watering hole, Mahjong Bar. In partnership with Tommy Conrad and Ailbhe McMahon, Mutch quietly opened the Italian-style deli as an ode to his grandmother and the simpler times when Mutch made home-cooked Italian food with the matriarch in the family.
Tommy Conrad, Ailbhe McMahon and Jesse Mutch pictured above.
The concept for Flora's was one Mutch had been contemplating for a while. As soon as COVID hit and Mutch's work began to taper down, the three decided it was the right time to conceptualize the deli pop-up. Since the trio launched Flora's Deli, they have been swamped.
Operating solely as a takeout counter, the space here is compact and the storefront cloaks a massive dining room in the back (previously Mahjong Bar). The aesthetic is trendy with a floral vibe that was a residual backdrop from the previous pop-up. Despite that, it seems to work just as well with Flora's.
Flora's Deli specializes in Italian-style sandwiches but offers other items like arancini, marinated olives and meatballs from grandma's recipe.
The Cantina is the classic take on an Italian hoagie with fresh cold cuts and a house-made giardiniera. The combination of smoked turkey, mortadella and hot Calabrese salami is perfection and a slice of friulano cheese finishes it off as well. Mutch makes the giardiniera with a blend of pickled vegetables and peppers.
The Norma Gina is their eggplant sandwich that rivals a spot for the best eggplant sandwich I have ever tasted. The eggplant cutlets are sliced thin and stacked high. The tender slices of eggplant are lightly fried and topped with whipped ricotta and arugula. The key ingredient here is the hot honey. The sweetness balances out any bitterness from the arugula while adding an element no other eggplant sandwich out there has.
The Jersey Mike is their take on a Chicken Parmesan sandwich but the chicken cutlet is thicker than those you'll find at Italian sandwich shops around the city. It's layered atop each other with enough vodka sauce and mozzarella cheese to make you thankful you're not on a diet. It looks messy, but the flavours fuse wonderfully. Extra napkins are mandatory.
They also import some items like San Carlo Chips and Macario Retro pops, which are popular back in Italy. They also operate as a mini-market selling things like hot peppers, sauces and Calabrian oregano as well.
Flora's Deli is available for takeout at 1276 Dundas St. W. and on Uber Eats from Wednesday to Sunday. They open at 10 a.m. and run until 8 p.m. or until they're sold out. Whichever comes first.