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Tradition Reigns at Neto’s Market & Grill

Posted By foodgal On October 22, 2009 @ 5:15 am In General,Meat,Restaurants | 20 Comments

People have endured a lot to get their Neto’s sausage fix.

My husband, Meat Boy, included.

At its tiny, hidden away, former location at The Alameda and Harrison Street in Santa Clara, the third-generation Neto Sausage Company would sell its grilled Portuguese sausages at lunch-time to a hungry crowd in need of hefty sub sandwiches.

But the sandwiches were only offered on Tuesdays and Fridays. And only weather permitting — since the sausages were grilled outdoors.

Good luck to those who weren’t familiar with the “system,” too. You’d get in one line at the grill to pick your cooked meat, then carry it in an aluminum tray inside the store to get into another line. You would hand your meat to the counter-person, who’d ask you what kind of bread, condiments, and chips you wanted. Next, you’d wander over to the cooler to pick a beverage, then get into yet another line to pay for your lunch and to pick it up. Whew, got all that? This game of musical lines happened in a very narrow, very cramped space, too.

Even with all that, the ever-present line out the door was a testament to just how good the sausages are. Of course, there was never a place to sit once you got your sandwich; the place was just too teeny to have tables and chairs.

Earlier this year, though, Neto’s Market & Grill opened at 1313 Franklin St. in the old VFW building in what could be considered palatial in comparison to the old location. Plenty of tables and chairs here in what’s more than four times the size of the old place. Grilled sausage sandwiches are available every day now. Plus a whole lot more — fried calamari ($10.99), penne and sausage ($10.99), and even cioppino $16.95).

There’s even a sizable deli/market in the front, where you’ll find everything from dried beans, frozen raviolis, quince paste, canned sardines, air-dried beef from Uruguay, and even a frozen coiled-up octopus. A decent selection of cheeses, hot dogs, and of course, sausages of all manner, also are available by the pound to tote home to cook.

Meat Boy and I were there for the sandwiches, though, which we took home to eat.

The ordering has been streamlined. You get in line (yes, that hasn’t changed) to place your order. Then, you wait until your name is called to pick up your order.

Neto’s is known for its “burgers.” They’re actually big patties of ground sausage. Choose from linguica, Italian with herbs, andouille, calabrese, or herb & onion — that’s grilled and plopped on your choice of bread.

Meat Boy chose his usual, Italian with herbs ($7.99). I opted for the grilled chicken breast ($8.99).

Just as before, you get a drink and chips with your sandwich. But now, for $1.50 more, you can get fries or onion rings instead, which is what we did. Good thing, too, because these thick-cut onion rings were some of the best I’ve had in a long time.

My chicken sandwich was enormous. I’d order it again, but next time on different bread. The Neto’s folks call it focaccia, but it’s quite thick, dry and crisp. It was simply too much bread, and I ended up eating at least half of my tender, nicely cooked chicken by itself instead.

Meat Boy’s Italian with herbs sausage sandwich was really meaty, juicy and robustly seasoned. I can see why he and so many others are addicted to these “burgers.” I also can picture this sausage as the star of a tasty Thanksgiving stuffing.

Neto’s may have moved into bigger digs. But the company, which has been perfecting the art of sausage-making since 1948, continues to deliver on flavor and tradition as always.

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