This Queens boy has a secret. A long time ago I lived in a galaxy far, far away called Brooklyn, in the lesser star system Park Slope. Back in the early 90s one of the best things about the hood—and back then it was still the hood—was the relatively short ride to then mostly Italian-American enclave of Bensonhurst. I’d stroll around 18th Ave., aka Cristofo Colombo Blvd., visit Villabate for pastries and inevitably wind up at Trunzo Bros. The old school salumeria/grocery shuttered a few years ago and I still miss it. So for this week’s Sandwich Wednesday I decided to check out Astoria’s Sorriso Italian Salumeria.
The outside of the 30-year-old shop screams pork store. Signs call attention to homemade mozzarella, salumi, and clam sauce. Inside the shelves are lined with Italian sodas and cans of San Marzano tomatoes. There’s also a case filled with all manner of specialties to take home and heat up. I ignored these and focused on the task at hand, choosing a sandwich. I almost went for the Godfather, as Sorriso calls its take on the Italian combo. The Sopranos, and the Goodfellas were looking good too. Ultimately I settled on a simpler four-ingredient sandwich: the Uncle Joe.
My namesake hero costs $7.50 and is filled with a choice hot or sweet capicolla, hot or sweet peppers, provolone, and garlic mayo. I went with hot peppers and hot gabagool, natch. My new friend, Sal, wrapped up the sandwich and directed me to the nearby Astoria Heights Playground. There I devoured my Uncle Joe. Unlike an overstuffed Italian combo it was sleeker, but still pretty filling. The salty provolone and spicy, funky gabagool went well with the hot peppers and garlic mayo. The heat was just right too, reaching a peak about halfway through. It made for a thoroughly satisfying lunch.
Afterwards I had an espresso at Gian Piero Bakery across the street from Sorriso. No room for a pastry, I had a light sugary twist. “Come se dice in Italiano?,” I asked the girl behind the counter. “I dunno,” she shrugged,”we’re from Montenegro.” Ah, Astoria!
Sorriso Italian Salumeria, 44-16 30th Ave., Astoria, 718-728-4392