About a week ago my good friend Kent asked if I wanted to take a road trip to Philadelpia for a “cheesesteak that kicks ass on Pat’s and Geno’s.” I immediately said yes and asked him which place he had in mind. When he didn’t respond, I didn’t sweat it too much for Kent is trencherman to be reckoned with, i.e. one who knows.
We met up around 11 a.m. and got on the road, and Kent informed me we’d be hitting up a joint called Gooey Looie’s, a favorite of the late great Holly Eats. Kent had his order all planned out, a large cheesesteak and several more to go for friends and family. It had been more than five years since his last visit and he was jonesing.
When we arrived in South Philly at around 2 o’clock, we found the truly locals haunt, no tourist trap vibe at all. I was pretty ravenous, but still thought it would be a good idea to get just a small. “One wit wiz, peppers and mushrooms” Kent said to the counterman who quickly interjected, “we only use real cheese.” “I sure hope these guys don’t notice my Mets colored kicks,” I mused as I waited for my order. (more…)
I have yet to travel to my paternal homeland of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, but when I do I might have to trek Southeast to Siracusa to feast on a sandwich from Chef Andreas of Caseificio Borderi. It’s a good thing that this 10-minute video starts with a shot of the finished product—piled high with a gorgeous salad; several types of cheese, including fresh ricotta; and lovely ham—because it takes Andreas almost that much time to complete a single panino.
This delay is largely because he stops halfway through to make a snack for the long line of customers. “OK now I make you taste this one. Do you know garlic?,” he asks. “For us Sicilians, garlic was truffles,” he says as he prepares chunks of ricotta with garlic and herbs.
“You have to know that ricotta is the most valuable asset of human beings,” he says as he passes out the Sicilian amuse bouche, only to be interrupted by the customer who ordered the sandwich: “Where is he going? I want my sandwich!” Apparently, it’s well worth the wait!
Puerto Rican sweet bread cradles a tasty amalgam of hamburger and American cheese.
I’ve been eager to try a chopped cheese ever since the classic New York City bodega sandwich rose to controversial fame a couple of years ago on a wave of culinary Columbussing. I was going to hit a spot near Queensbridge and then I thought about White Gold Butchers for April Bloomfield’s $11 artisanal version and then I remembered my pal Giuseppe González was serving one at his Lower East Side watering hole, Suffolk Arms.
Actually that’s not what happened at all. I was in the neighborhood and I wanted to try the food at Giuseppe’s bar. I almost ordered the $13 Thanksgiving burger, which combines turkey, stuffing, and cranberry and then I saw “Joey’s Classic Chopped Cheese.” At $5 it’s the cheapest item on the menu, and that’s intentional the veteran barman says. “I went to two bodegas around my way one charges $5.50 and one charges $6, so I’m cheaper than both.” (more…)
I have been meaning to try Hendu’s Sandwich Shop—Bill Henderson’s ode to bread, meat and gravy—for at least six months. The other day I was walking by Dutch Kills and who should I see in the window, but Hendu himself.
I took it as a sign, a sign to order sandwich. I was torn between the roast beef with gravy and horseradish ($12) and the beer braised pork shoulder with fennel and apple ($13). I decided to get the pork and I’m glad I did. It’s the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten in a cocktail bar, and not just because it’s the only one.
Like many good things it comes wrapped in butcher paper. Open it up to find a dreadnought of a sandwich. Hendu hails from the Bronx and so does his bread, A&M Bakery to be specific. The seeded Neapolitan bastone is slathered garlic thyme butter and with filled with suculent pork shoulder that’s been braised in Guinness. A trifecta of apple, fennel, and lime zest do a great job of brightening things was did the baby arugula. The secret to this sandwich? “Veal stock, that’s my gravy,” Hendu said.
Hendu’s Sandwich Shop, Dutch Kills, 27-24 Jackson Ave,m Long Island City, NY 11101
A popular Tunisian street food has come to Queens.
I’m a big fan of what I like to call the Tunisian tuna sandwich at Roast n Co. Essentially it’s a salad nicoise sandwich kicked up with a bit of spicy harissa spread. Back in Tunisia it’s a common street food, as are the spicy little lamb sausages known as merguez. Recently the Forest Hills cafe started running a merguez sandwich ($9.95) as a special.
Several ruddy little lamb sausages are packed into a crusty baguette along with greens, cherry tomatoes, olives, cucumber, onions, and of course harissa. It comes with a choice of salad or French fries. I always get the fries, since a) they’re excellent, and b) there’s already a salad in the sandwich. (more…)
Sometimes an average restaurant banh mi is just what you need.
“I really want to try the Vietnamese sandwich,” Chef Dave, said as we wheeled into the parking lot of Elmhurst’s Pho Bac. He was pretty excited because there were baguettes stacked in the window, an unusual sight for midevening. Not wanting to dampen his enthusiasm, I didn’t trot out my theory that restaurant banh mi are passable at best compared to those from sandwich shops and delis.
As we were looking at the menu, I remembered something I wanted to try, call it a Vietnamese French dip. (I’m sure whatever blog I cribbed the idea from does.) In no sort order Chef Dave and I had each ordered a sandwich—classic pork for him and highfalutin steak for me—and a large bowl of pho tai. The latter is the most minimalist of the 10 or so beef noodle soups offered, containing little more than noodles and rare slices of beef. (more…)
Nothing so much disappoints as an ill-made, breakfast sandwich. (For those of you outside the New York City metro area, a breakfast sandwich is defined as bacon, egg, and cheese on a kaiser roll.) American’s the standard cheese, though I do not mind a good Cheddar. One thing is not debatable though, the bacon should be crispy.
As way to recover from a poorly made spin on a BEC I recently tried a far better interpretation of the NYC classic, the Breakfast Ramen Burger as Keizo Shimamoto’s Ramen Shack. The $7 sandwich is a far cry from the coffee cart classic, but it’s one of the best breakfast sandwiches I’ve had in recent memory. Two ramen noodles bun stand in for the roll. They encase a well fried egg, and crisp bacon topped with white American cheese. The noodly buns have a nice chew to them and held up well to the ingredients. Eating it gave me hope for New York City’s BEC, classic and otherwise.
Ramen Shack, 13-13 40th Avenue, Long Island City, 929-522-0285
I have yet to eat one, but the combination of smoked pork loin, fried eggplant, kicky pimento cheese, piquant pickled green tomatoes, fruity mincemeat, and maple cream looks absolutely heavenly. Click on over to Esquire’s Napkins Necessary for the recipe, or better yet throw on a sweater and take a stroll over to Harry & Ida’s.
Harry & Ida’s Meat & Supply Co., 189 Avenue A., 646- 864-0967
The spicy fried chicken sandwich from The Rooster’s Crow in Macy’s Herald Square.
A department store is the last place New Yorkers would expect to find a winning fried chicken sandwich. After all we Iive in a city of Fukus,Chick-fil-A’s, and Shake Shacks—each of which offer exemplary fried chicken sandwiches. So I was very surprised to learn that the basement of Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square is home to a delicious spicy fried chicken sandwich ($7.95) from a counter called The Rooster’s Crow.
It’s part of a concept called Chef St. NYC, which is supposed to mimic the city’s food truck scene. In addition to fried chicken, it offers Italian, Tutto Buono; hamburgers, Rollies; and ramen, Tabo Noodles. I’ve never thought of ramen as street food and prefer to think of Chef St. as a mini food hall. But back to that sandwich, it’s certainly the best spicy fried chicken I’ve ever eaten in department store. It’s easily in my top five fried chicken sandwiches in New York City. For an extra kick ask the dude behind the counter to hook you up with some scorcher hot sauce.
The Rooster’s Crow, Chef St. NYC. Macy’s 151 W. 34 St., New York, NY
You would think after a weekend spent surrounded by smoked and cured meats at Charcuterie Masters, I’d be tired of ham and pâté. Not so. Which is exactly how I found myself at Violet’s Bake Shoppe ordering a Pâté Supreme bánh mì earlier today. My go to order is the house special, which features crumbled roast pork and Vietnamese charcuterie.
In addition to a homemade pork liver pâté, the Supreme ($6.50) features Vietnamese ham and salami with all the standard fixins. The cold cuts and shmear of peppery pâté combined with the veggies and fresh jalapeños made for a satisfying lunch.
In case you’re wondering the Charcuterie Masters 2017 Grand Champion was Mark Elia of Hudson Valley Sausage Company who took home the crown for his liverwurst. I’ll bet it would be just splendid on a Vietnamese sandwich!
Violet’s Bake Shoppe, 72-36 Austin Street, Forest Hills, 718-263-3839