There are sandwiches, then there are wonderful sandwiches.
The sandwich heaven in question is the newly-opened Custom Melt, at the College Plaza across from , in the space that used to be occupied by Chronic Tacos.
Co-owners Thomas Gullo and Phil Adler both admit that the "melt concept" just came to them, mostly as a result of their shared fondness for cheese.
"We didn't know what type of restaurant or cuisine we wanted to do until we saw the place," said Gullo, who has worked in various independently-owned restaurants across the US.
Adler agreed. "Other times, people force their ideas before they even see the place and that doesn't always work," he said.
"One has to feel the vibe, the energy of the place," said Adler, a Moorpark resident.
The menu, put together by the duo, is pretty straightforward: nine types of sandwiches, two to three desserts depending on the day and about seven side dishes including the "oh-so-crispy-and-heavenly" yucca fries.
Some are hand-me-down recipes from family members and friends. Some are the duo's inspired concoctions from a combined two decades spent in the restaurant industry.
Gullo said, "We're both comfortable enough in the kitchen to experiment with various flavor profiles and local ingredients."
"We just let our imagination run wild," said Adler, whose restaurant stints include TGI Friday's and The Cheesecake Factory.
Except for the bread, everything is made from scratch, said Adler, although there is nothing he would love more than to make his own bread. "It will happen in due time," he said.
So far, the meatball sandwich and the Cuban Reuben have been top-sellers, along with the signature classic melt, an intriguing combination of four cheeses: aged gouda, gruyere, creamy havarti and sharp cheddar.
"We made the price points simple and accessible to everyone," said Adler, describing the $4 to $10 price range for sandwiches.
Looking forward, the co-owners foresee expanding into catering. A brunch offering is also not a far-fetched possibility, extending their current operating hours of 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Plans to build a patio are also being seriously considered, to add to their current seating capacity of 40.
The online reviews have been encouraging, said Gullo. "Someone who just dined in here recently said that they could taste the love in the food."
As the "Moorpark melt momentum" builds, Adler takes it all in stride. He said, "It's not all that complicated to make good food."