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Friday, July 10, 2015

Between Two Slices: Merigan's Classy Italian Subs

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli

The first time I visited Merigan in SOMA, I was sporting a mean hangover. Thinking back on it, I don't even know what transpired the night before, but I do remember how Chef Liza Shaw's chicken parmesan sub ($13) was my hangover's best friend. It was the marinara first, with its bold flavor that could've easily flexed it's way into a glorious rigatoni al forno. Then it was the blend of provolone and mozzarella on top of the perfectly breaded chicken, the crispiness of which complemented the crunch on the toasted sesame seed roll. And then it was the basil leaves betwixt it all as the ultimate Italian aromatic. Future hangovers cower just thinking about it. 

And now Merigan really matters to me, because my favorite high-end Italian sub shop, Porcellino, closed down last year after Chef Chris Cosentino left to focus on Cockscomb. I'll always have Molinari's in North Beach, with just the right amount of sass (and excess heaps of prosciutto), but when I want to sit down and eat classy Italian comfort sandos, I go pester Liza and her team at Merigan's. I peer my head through the space in the counter and ask her about the Italian mortadella and house-cured prosciutto cotto. (That's "ham" for you noobs.) I humor her and ask her what I should order that day, and then do it. I chat up the people taking orders at the counter to see what they like, cause I like it here. It's comfortable and that's how home-style Italian sub shops should be. 

Another thing that quality Italian sub shops of all classifications need to have is a solid Italian combo and Merigan's ($13) comes with that house cured ham and Italian mortadella I mentioned earlier, along with fatty dry salami for good measure. 

click to enlarge ADRIAN SPINELLI
  • Adrian Spinelli
I dig the way the mortadella is neatly folded and piled on. I dig the soft bun that holds up til the last bite. And the thing I dig the most? That damn vinaigrette. Holy hell. Merigan's blends oilve oil, vinegar, capers, oregano and grana (parmesan's pal) and it's a perfect sub dressing. Oh, by the way, I fucking love sub dressing. Where the oil sinks into the roll and the other stuff stays on the surface. They need to pull a Papalote and bottle it. I'm serious. 

The terrina sub is not for the faint of heart. Housemade terrine and pâté come across super game-y, creamy, decadent, and joined by housemade headcheese (technically, porchetta di testa). My Vietnamese pal who joined me on the last visit said it reminded him of traditional pâté banh mi, and in fact, Shaw says it's "kinda like our take on a banh mi. Get it, it's really special."

We did, and it's a level two sandwich, for sure. (Not for beginners.)

Merigan gets a whole pig every Thursday from the classic Llano Seco Rancho in Chico, and apparently there's more collaborations with them in the works. Before opening Merigan, Shaw was a chef at A16 and cited "A lack of good Italian sub shops" as her inspiration for opening this place. That void is now a little smaller. Salute!

Full menu here. 

Recommended Sides

- The salted choc chip cookie with Maldon salt is just unfair. It's gooey and soft in the middle, but firm with just the right crisp on the edges. 

- The cracklins rival 4505's pork rinds. Merigan's version is right off the pig, fried, glistening with fatty goodness and dusted with a spicy seasoning. 

- They serve breakfast subs from 8:30-10:30 a.m., Monday through Friday, if you work in SOMA. 

Merigan Sub Shop636 Second, 415-536-2991.

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About The Author

Adrian Spinelli

Adrian Spinelli

Hip hop and sandwiches.

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