I’m surprised that I’m writing this: Outdoor malls have slightly turned a bit cool to me. Usually the idea of visiting the Grove, Third Street Promenade and the like makes me cringe, but Deluca’s at the Americana in Glendale has managed to win my heart. Not only does this small deli offer most of my favorite Italian things to eat, but the combination of people watching and the ever-changing live musical acts playing in the “streets” takes me to a place that well … does not feel like the bustling city of Glendale.

When you walk through the doors, the open communal seating lends itself well to the feel of Europe that Deluca’s strives to emulate. One wall is windows only, a people-watching treasure. And if the weather permits, as it usually does, you can sit outside under the canopied wrought iron tables.

I arrived right in the middle of Saturday lunch service, and though there were lots of people and numerous hurried steps from patrons and servers alike, I never got the impression that I had to hurry up and eat. I appreciate places that generate this sort of excited but calm energy.

Traditional Italian sandwiches, meats and cheeses and fresh handmade pasta are what you’ll find in this gourmet marketplace adjacent to its sister restaurant, Trattoria Amici. As I walk up to the deli case, the vegetarian/piscatorial entrees with their bright colors and carefully arranged tiers are what caught my eye. Spelt farro salad with sweet cherry tomatoes, cranberries, tender fava beans balanced with peppery argula lay beside large, breadcrumb-baked artichoke hearts. When you bite into the artichoke, the pine nuts give just enough texture to the tender hearts. I am delighted to see my “brown bag lunch” favorite Tonno paired with white beans and olive oil. I add a little balsamic vinegar to my plate for dipping my freshly made baguette while I sample my friend’s Silician Capponata. The bell pepper, eggplant and zucchini are simmered in a rich tomato base that is not overwhelming – again, great for dipping! I love that you can put together a trio of salads and make a complete meal.

The cold and hot sandwiches Deluca’s offers are outstanding. Ask if Piero, the charming executive chef, will recommend a couple to you. This afternoon he chooses the warm Maiale Panino (Yes, everything does sound better in Italian.), and thank goodness this slow-roasted pork tastes just as delicious as it sounds. I couldn’t get over how tender the meat is and how simple but elegant the accoutrement of the homemade tomato spread amplifies the pork. Not even halfway through my sandwich, my friend orders the Salsiccia, crisp, salty and delicious with the sweet onion and sautéed peppers it’s paired with. There’s so much to sample at Deluca’s, like the grilled blackened salmon, traditional eggplant parmigiana and the turkey lasagna.

It gets even better with this contemporary deli because you can also shop Deluca’s assortment of imported and domestic cheeses, duck prosciutto (amazingly delicious especially when enjoyed with Chef Piero’s fig spread), Toscana salami and take-home pastas made daily. The pastas are unique: agnolotti stuffed with tender cuts of short rib, seafood ravioli, etc. And what’s more, they sell wine and champagne to go. Or, order a plate of the velvety and light Tiramisu, the fluffy ladyfingers meld with the rich cocoa so well, to follow it with a cup of espresso is almost on the verge of overkill, but you know as they say, “When in Rome!”

So now that I’ve visited Deluca’s in its entire splendor, I am no longer an outdoor mall hater. But only because this eatery off Americana Way has lured me to the … I shouldn’t say dark, as that’s a little harsh, but yes, the dark side.

For more information, call (877) 701-3354 or visit delucasdeli.com.