The sandwich is the greatest culinary invention of all time. Bread? Excellent. Meat? Also great. Cheese? Stellar. Condiments? Fantastic. Portable? Hell yes. Though a shoddy, soggy sandwich is a sad thing indeed, one of these well-made babies is a marvel to behold, and proof that alleged inventor John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich, should be elevated to sainthood. Here are our favorite sandwiches in the city, not counting the ones we procure from our local bodega after one too many beers; we know you'll leave yours in the comments.
PINOCCHIO AT ALIDORO: Picking just one of the masterpieces at this SoHo sandwich shop is no easy task, since every massive mound of bread, meat, and cheese here is nothing short of a national treasure. The Pinocchio ($13), comprised of prosciutto, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, sweet roasted peppers and olive paste, wins mention on this list simply because it's the most memorable—fresh, chewy bread melds perfectly with the cold cuts and mozz, and the savory olive spread adds an extra kick to the whole shebang.
But really, order any one of the sandwiches on Alidoro's list and you're in for a goddamn treat. Note that while sandwiches are priced high, they're also huge. Expect a $9.25 to $13 creation to last at least two meals, provided you're able to stop yourself from consuming these titanic babies in just a few bites.
Alidoro has two locations in Manhattan: 105 Sullivan Street between Spring and Prince Streets in SoHo (212-334-5179, alidoronyc.com) and at 18 East 39th Street between 5th and Madison Avenues in Midtown East (646-692-4330, alidoronyc.com).
BREAKFAST SANDWICHES AT BRANCACCIO'S FOOD SHOP: Lauren Evans says the mild cheddar, double smoked bacon and ciabatta sandwich at this seatless deli "is so good you don't realize you are sitting in the gutter while you're eating it," noting that the experience "is like the little match girl when she lights a match and suddenly she's transported to a lavish dining room and not frozen in a ball next to some trash." So, there you go. That's just one example of the magic you'll find smushed between bread here, and note that this Windsor Terrace spot sells all its breakfast sandwiches for under $5, giving you an otherworldly feast for less than a soggy (semi) footlong abomination from Subway. Stretchy pants are a must.
Brancaccio's is located at 3011 Fort Hamilton Parkway between 2nd and 3rd Streets in Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn (718-435-1997, brancacciosfoodshop.com).
SCUTTLEBUTT AT SALTIE: Saltie's been serving up Scuttlebutts over by the BQE in Williamsburg for some time now, and we've got to admit that this slightly sloppy sandwich has Still Got It. The $12 meat-free monster's got all the the good things in life: a hard-boiled egg, feta cheese, black olives, capers and pickles, doused with a fine layer of pimenton aioli and held together with two thick slabs of salty (heh!) fresh focaccia bread. Pair this ditty with at least 15 napkins to wipe up all the delicious post-feast sandwich juice.
Saltie is located at 378 Metropolitan Avenue at Havemeyer Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-387-4777, saltieny.com).
ROAST PORK AT MEAT HOOK SANDWICH SHOP: We were floored by the carnivorgasmic offerings at The Meat Hook's made-to-order deli when it opened a little farther down the L line last May. Though everything we've tried here has been nothing short of mindblowing, it's the $13 roast pork sandwich that really stands out, boasting a piquant combination of pork, tomato, escarole and spicy raisins all enveloped in fresh Italian hero bread (or on a roll, if you so choose). The spot's only open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, giving you only a short window to bust your gut, though maybe that's a blessing in disguise.
The Meat Hook Sandwich Shop is located at 495 Lorimer Street between Powers and Grand Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-302-4665, the-meathook.com).
FIVE-SPICE GLAZED PORK BELLY AT NUM PANG: Sandwich chain Num Pang knows what it's doing when it comes to cooking up tender, melt-in-your mouth, fatty pork. This $8.75 concoction, served on a banh mi-style bun, comes thick with the aforementioned pork, along with a sweet-and-salty picked Asian pear that cuts through some of the fat and expertly mixes with the meat's flavor. Add some savory pickled vegetables in the mix, and you've got yourself a solid sandwich bouquet.
Num Pang has a number of locations in Manhattan, including stalls at Hudson Eats in Battery Park City and at Chelsea Market. Visit numpangnyc.com for details.
(Flickr user ronnyg)
PASTRAMI AT KATZ'S DELICATESSEN: Okay, Katz's is kind of touristy, and it's definitely overpriced. But still, Katz's signature pastrami sandwich earns its accolades, in spite of that $19.75 tag. Piles upon piles of hot, hand-carved meat sit between two slices of thick rye bread, waiting for you to spread spicy yellow mustard all over. Split the sandwich with a friend so the price (and digestive process) is less intense. Don't go on the weekend, and don't tell the man behind the counter, "I'll have what she's having," for the love of God.
Katz's Deli is located at 205 East Houston Street between Ludlow and Orchard Streets on the Lower East Side (212-254-2246, katzsdelicatessen.com).
THE BOMB AT SAL, KRIS, & CHARLIE'S DELI: This sandwich is so damn delectable it once got a man detained at JFK, though that may have had more to do with the incendiary name than the delicious coldcuts and cheeses inside of it. This 12-inch masterpiece comes filled with literally All The Meat—ham, salami, turkey, roast beef, mortadella—along with American, Swiss and provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, hot peppers, mustard, mayo, oil and vinegar, all packed on a fresh, fluffy, sesame seed-studded Italian hero. Expect your inner organs to explode, just like the name promises, though for only $8.75, your wallet should stay intact.
Sal, Kris, & Charlie's is located at 33-12 23rd Avenue in Astoria, Queens (718-278-9240).
BROCCOLI CLASSIC AT NO. 7 SUB: There are lots of solid options to choose from at this lunchtime standby, which prides itself on creating sandwiches using off-beat, mix-and-match flavors. The $9 Broccoli Classic is one such oddball, stuffed with broccoli, lychee muchim, ricotta salata and fried shallots and slathered with mayonnaise. The gamble pays off here, though, and the sandwich is just as satisfying as any ham and cheese-packed deli feast.
Note that if you swing by any of No. 7 Sub's locations during lunch rush, you'll have to put up with a long wait, though in the end that standing around will make your sandwich taste all that much better.
No. 7 Sub has two locations in Manhattan: 1188 Broadway between 28th and 29th Streets in Flatiron (212-532-1680, no7sub.com) and at The Plaza Food Hall at 1 West 59th Street at 5th Avenue in Midtown West (646-755-3228, no7sub.com). There is also a location at 11 Water Street in Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO, Brooklyn, though it's closed until the spring.
THE ITALIAN STALLION AT DEFONTE'S: It was a sad day when Defonte's shuttered its Manhattan outpost earlier this year, making it far more difficult for the Gramercy lunch crowd to stuff themselves on their famed sandwiches. Thankfully, you can still score the stellar Italian hero at their landmarked Red Hook location, where this goliath comes packed with prosciutto, mozzarella, fried eggplant, red peppers and all sorts of other goodies from Boot-shaped Land. There are two sizes to choose from—large, and monstrously large—with the former running only $11, and the latter an extra $1. Like Homer Simpson, you will digest this sandwich for a month, and you will be a better person for it.
Defonte's is located at 379 Columbia Street between Luquer and Coles Streets in Red Hook, Brooklyn (718-625-8052).
PAN BAGNAT AT MARGOT PATISSERIE: This beautiful little sandwich is a French Rivieran staple, comprised of delicate tuna fish, olive oil and a hard-boiled egg, gently resting between two halves of a brioche bun. Though the tuna at Margot's is a little more watery than the stuff you might find in Nice, it slides down easily, and a protein-packed $8.69 portion will keep you full 'til dinnertime. Bon appetit!
Margot Patisserie is located at 2109 Broadway at West 74th Street on the Upper West Side (212-721-0076, margotpatisserie.com).
CHICKEN PARM AT TINO'S DELICATESSEN: With Manhattan's Little Italy whittled down to a couple crappy tourist spots, Arthur Avenue has transformed into the city's loveliest Italian mecca, where fresh mozzarella and sliced meats reign supreme. Tino's Deli knows what's up when it comes to classic heroes, and the $7.95 chicken parmesan sandwich is the best of the best. Thick Italian bread envelops plump pieces of breaded chicken, all elegantly smothered in delectable fresh mozzarella, Romano cheese and piping hot tomato sauce. Nap for weeks, awake refreshed (and ten pounds heavier).
Tino's Deli is located 2410 Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of The Bronx (718-733-9879, tinosdeli.com).
MOZZARELLA AND ROASTED RED PEPPERS AT LEO'S LATTICINI/MAMA'S: The mozzarella whipped up at this decades-old Corona spot is the stuff of legend, as fresh, soft, and buttery as the cheese can possibly be. Slap thick slices of it on a thick, white hero, add fiery roasted red peppers and a dash of mushrooms and you've got yourself a monument to Sandwiches worldwide. Heroes start at $6.50, triple bypass not included.
Leo's Latticini/Mama's is located at 46-02 104th Street in Corona, Queens (718-898-6069).
TUNA FISH AT 2ND AVE DELI: The 2nd Ave Deli boasts a treasure trove of sandwiches and the tasty things that fill them. Our favorite, though, is the tuna salad sandwich, a camera-ready mass of tuna, lettuce and tomato held together with wheat, white or rye bread. It's a basic sandbitch (sorry), for sure, but that's part of its charm. Some classics never get old. The sandwich runs $13.95.
The 2nd Avenue Deli is located at 162 East 33rd Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues in Midtown East (212-689-9000, 2ndavedeli.com) and at 442 1st Avenue at 75th Street on the Upper East Side (212-737-1700, 2ndavedeli.com).