Those lucky Magnolians have a nice little deli of their own

How friendly is the service at Mim's Italian Market, a new deli in the heart of Magnolia? The second time I went there, more than a week after the first time, the counterman (co-owner Jeff Zucker, whose wife, Mim, is also an owner and the namesake of the restaurant) remembered my name. If I hadn't spoken up, he probably would have asked me if I wanted the same sandwich, too. I felt duty-bound to try something new, but in truth I would have been quite satisfied with another Italian Torpedo (see below).

Mim's is a genuine neighborhood deli, small and immaculately clean, with a good meat selection in the glass case. Coppa, prosciutto and serrano ham are sliced to order, which makes me jealous (nobody in my neighborhood does that). The cheeses are less adventurous, leaning mostly toward mass-market cheeses with long shelf lives. Whether I've gone in early or late, the place simply hums; they serve a lot of lunch to a lot of satisfied customers, both the takeout crowd and those looking to linger at a table.

In the last weeks before school started, there were plenty of parents with kids at Mim's, and children are well served here. There are grilled cheese sandwiches ($2.50/$3.50 with ham); hot dogs ($2.50); cold, plain farfalle pasta (99 cents); and bocconcini (mozzarella balls) with cherry tomatoes, a cute caprese-salad variation (99 cents). For that matter, I would have loved half a grilled prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich when I was a kid, almost as much as I enjoy them now. (Panini aren't available as half-sandwiches, but surely mom or dad would be happy to polish off the other half.)

The menu doesn't make it far past hot and cold sandwiches; there's minestrone and another daily soup, and a couple of salads in the case, including an Italian-style chopped chicken salad ($8.99/pound) that's a little too heavy on the sun-dried tomatoes.

Mim's also offers a small but reasonably priced selection of wine and beer (the Zuckers used to own Corks Wine Shop, which they closed to open Mim's). It's only for takeout at the moment, but an on-premise license is forthcoming.

I'd like to see a little more variety in the Torpedoes (do people say that in the Navy?), and the soup needs work, but Mim's has found a sandwich niche in its neighborhood, and people are already taking notice.

Check please:

Bosco: That's Italian for "forest," not the chocolate syrup. With portobello mushrooms, fontina, arugula and roasted tomatoes, this is an exemplary grilled sandwich.

Italian Torpedo: That piquant note comes from marinated peppers, accenting slices of ham, salami and mortadella on a fluffy white roll. Mortadella is real Italian bologna, and it gives the sandwich a creamy richness.

Tortestrone soup: I don't know why I ordered this, since I don't think I've ever had a good minestrone soup in a restaurant, and there was no indication that this would be the first. It wasn't; it was a bland bowl of cabbage-heavy vegetable soup with some mushy tortellini thrown in.

Tiramisu: Zucker told me that they're currently changing their dessert provider, which is good news, since this bland tiramisu doesn't live up to the promise of coffee-soaked cake and mascarpone.

Chocolate hazelnut panini: Now, this is more like it. It's hard to improve on Nutella grilled between two slices of sourdough bread. A chocolaty, salty, nutty delight.

Itemized bill, meal for two

Bosco panini $5.25

Italian Torpedo $4.50

Tortestrone soup $2.50

Tiramisu $2.99

Chocolate hazelnut panini $2.50

Tax $1.65

Total $19.39

Matthew Amster-Burton:

Mim's Italian Market

2425 33rd Ave. W., No. 3, Seattle; 206-270-0100



Hours: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays, 10 a.m.- 2:30 p.m. Sundays.

Beer and wine for takeout (on-premises license forthcoming) / credit cards: V, MC / no smoking / no obstacles to access.

Rating: recommended.