“Enter as Strangers – Leave as Friends,” that is the sign over the counter at Gularte’s Great Diamond Deli & Pizza, which is located at 670-B Pleasant Valley Road in Diamond Springs, CA (same center as Jiffy Mart). And, they mean it.
This is a real family run business, started by Joyce Gularte 30 years ago this May, and operated by her, her three daughters, Michelle, Brandi and “Babe,” and even granddaughters. “We do have some employees,” said Gularte, “but they have been with us for a long time and as far as we are concerned, they are family.”
The place is always very busy at lunchtime, so I arranged to meet with Gularte around 11 a.m. last Monday. One of her daughter’s greeted me and said, “We are going to make a couple of sandwiches for you and also have a personal pizza in the oven to try.”
I looked at the large list of speciality sandwiches on the menu and then said, “What do you recommend?” “The P’ville Cheese Steak and Hangtown Chipotle are very popular,” she said, and I told her “sure.” She then added, “I’ll have them make a half of each and, if it is okay with you, we will make them our way.”
I was glad to hear that. I have an awful time deciding which bread, cheese, vegetables and condiments are best for a sandwich I have never tried before, so since they know what goes best, “their way” is the right way. I also do the same when confronted with the question regarding what I want on a taco or burrito.
While waiting for my meal, I talked with Gularte for a few minutes. “I was born into a family of grocers in the Central Valley,” she said. “Growing up I learned a lot about food. Thirty years ago ‘Take and Bake’ pizza was unknown here and so we opened both this place and one in Placerville. After a few years it became apparent that running two stores was too difficult, so we closed the Placerville one.
“You might note that we will be celebrating our thirtieth year on [Saturday and Sunday], the fourth and fifth of May by rolling back our one topping pizza to the 1983 price of $4.99.
“We make most everything we sell: salads, dressings, casseroles, brownies, cookies and everything else you see in the refrigerated cases along the wall. And, of course, we make the sandwiches and pizzas fresh to your order.”
Soon, my sandwiches arrived. The P’ville Cheese Steak was hot roast beef, bell peppers, onions and melted cheese on a toasted roll, and the Hangtown Chipotle was hot turkey with melted cheese, mild green chillies, chipotle sauce (not mild), lettuce and tomato on grilled sourdough (Truckee Bakery bread).
I tasted each of them, pausing between bites to enjoy some of their potato salad. They were different from each other, but both were full of flavor, juicy and delicious. I asked if the Hangtown Chipotle was more popular with men, because of the heat from the chipotle chiles, and was told that everyone seems to really like it. I guess tastes are a changing.
While I was enjoying them, someone said, “You should make him a Garlic Gobbler,” so soon arrived a delicious sandwich of hot turkey, melted cheese, garlic mayo, lettuce, red onion and tomatoes on a toasted roll. After I enjoyed a couple of bites of it, I was asked, “Which one did you like the best?” “Actually, I liked them all,” I replied.
At that point I figured I was done, but then they brought a sample of their delicious Beef Stroganoff, a fruit salad and even a sample of an iced mocha. I decided to take the fruit salad home, which I ate IN PLACE of dinner.
You can have them make you any kind of a sandwich you want from a whole list of ingredients, but I would recommend the time tested ones like those I tried, along with others with names like The Sunrise (ham or bacon and eggs, with cheese), The Porker (pulled pork), The 49er (meatball), The Green Gardner ( a very special veggie sandwich) or The Diamond Dip, made with roast beef and melted cheese on a grilled roll with au jus. I didn’t try it but one diner yelled to the kitchen, “Best French Dip ever,” while I was there.
As to the pizza, I had a delicious slice of Kelsey’s Combo, made with salami, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, red onions, olives, green bell peppers and tomatoes, and Jacob’s Club, a ranch sauce pizza with mozzarella, chicken, sausage, bacon (real) and diced tomatoes and loved each of them, the Jacob’s Club a bit more (I like white sauce pizza).
You can customize a pizza from their long list of toppings (including cashews they roast themselves) or pick one from the menu, most of which are named after family members, such as Adam’s Artichoke, Brandi’s Garlic Chicken, Chip’s Mix, Emma’s Pizza Tostada, Granny’s Gardner… and the list goes on and on.
They also have several salads, pre-packed to eat there or take home (try the walnut-cranberry) along with several casseroles like the very flavorful Stroganoff I really enjoyed, cookies, salsas, soup, cake, brownies and more.
To drink they have soda, iced tea, mochas, fruit smoothies and bottled drinks.
Tuesday is Homemade Taco day until 7 and Thursday is grilled hamburger day until 3. I haven’t tried the tacos, but I have tried the burgers, which are so huge and delicious that people line up for them.
So, add the daily specials and I think that gives you a small glimpse of what Gularte’s Deli has to offer. I know I missed something, but I have to leave something for you to discover.
The hours are daily from 8 until 8:30, but if you drive by earlier in the morning and the signs are lit, they are open.
They have seating inside and outside and a very friendly staff. For more information give them a call (530) 626-0550.