Bill and Deb’s Downtown Deli

Traverso's vets bring back Italian sandwich faves

Since Traverso’s closed last November, finding a decent prosciutto sandwich has been a challenging proposition.

Not that you can’t find one. You can. But without soul. Too much bread. Rubbery mozzarella. Watery tomatoes. Unholy basil.

Consider the resurrection of the Traverso’s Caprese Sandwich a spring miracle. Sliced-to-order Italian prosciutto with a salty, nutty flavor. Fresh whole milk mozzarella. Basil aioli with lettuce, tomatoes and torn basil on freshly baked bread($7.99).

Brought back to life by two former employees of the Italian deli, it’s one of several familiar sandwiches on the menu of Bill and Deb’s Downtown Deli.

Also on the menu: The Papa Rico ($5.99). Thin slices of salami with mayo, mustard, peppers, Swiss and tomatoes. Or The Hoagie with Mortadella, salami and ham with mozzarella, provolone and Italian dressing ($7.99). Sound familiar?

Let me say they may even be better than the original.

Behind the counter, sandwich vets Bill Thompson (10 years at Traverso’s) and Debbie Schulze (6 years) recently took over Mom & Pop’s Sandwich Shop (formerly known as Mr. Pickles). They’re eager to make some changes to the downtown deli that’s seen plenty of turnover — bringing in fresh ravioli, potato salad and Italian salami. But to keep everyone happy, they’re also sticking with some of former owners’ sandwiches along with a “Make Your Own” sandwich menu. And cookies still come complimentary with every order.

Though it will take decades to come even close to Traverso’s ground-into-the-floorboards history, it’s nice to know a little part of the legacy lives on.

Bill and Debbie’s Downtown Deli, 621 4th St., Santa Rosa, (707) 636-2200