The Energizer Bunny is make-believe. If you want to see the real thing, head over to Nona’s Deli at De la Guerra and Laguna streets, and check out Edith Ziliotti. Fifty (60? 70?) years after she and her late former husband were cranking out submarine sandwiches by the thousand, she’s still churning them out.
Last Sunday I went by the deli for the first time since its reopening, following the closure and reopening of Tino’s Italian Deli at the old Carrow’s Restaurant on Carrillo Street. (My friend David says people in Santa Barbara give directions by where restaurants used to be!) I was pleased to see Nona’s was open, and imagined it was about 50-50 that I would find Edith inside. Not only was she there, she was not just sitting behind a cash register — she was making sandwiches, running the deli by herself.
When my son Dan was little and just getting started with solid food, I had mentioned this to Edith one day when I was getting some lunch. She got me a little box of “pastina,” tiny little pasta stars. They were a hit, and sometime later I brought Edith a picture of Dan in a bib, with several pasta stars stuck to his face. I took great delight in seeing that picture on the wall of the deli for several years.
It was great to see she is still at it.