A couple of weeks ago while doing some research for a Brooklyn Chinatown/Italian Bensonhurst food tour I stopped by Gino’s Focacceria for a vastedda. I was saddened to see the shop was for rent. I asked a local merchant where I might I obtain the traditional Sicilian calf spleen sandwich. “Joe’s of Avenue U,” she said.
I forgot all about the offal and cheese sandwich until Friday after leading that food tour. After several hours of eating and talking I often like to decompress with even more eating. So I paid the Gravesend institution a visit for a vastedda. My namesake Sicilian diner still sits beneath the Avenue U stop on the F. The old-school sign has been changed, but the magnificent steam table filled with stuffed artichokes and other Sicilian specialties looks exactly the same. And they still have vastedda ($6.99).The pillowy roll was topped with a heap of calf spleen blanketed with ricotta and caciocavallo cheese. It was a rich, meaty, and filling sandwich. In Palermo vastedda vendors are as common as taco trucks are on Roosevelt Avenue. And, in Sicily the sandwich often includes lungs.
Even though my vastedda lacked lungs, it’s nice to know that when the craving hits I can get this Sicilian snack in New York City, even if I have to travel to the furthest reaches of Brooklyn.
Joe’s of Avenue U, 287 Avenue U, Brooklyn, 718-449-9285