Sandwiches can’t stand up to the ultimate in personal customization at The Meatball Shop. Have things exactly the way you want them: ‘balls made from your choice of beef, pork, chicken, vegetable, or whatever the special of the day is (a recent special: jerk chicken, habanero pepper, all spice with mango chutney) topped with your choice of tomato, spicy meat sauce, mushroom gravy, Parmesan cream, or pesto. Have these in a sandwich, on a hero, on brioche, you make the call. Go crazy with the combinations, as the possibilities are almost endless. Start off with the classic beef meatballs served with the classic tomato sauce, and top a classic hero for a classic meatball hero. Or get a little feisty and try the spicy pork with the spicy meat sauce with brioche, and add ‘the family jewels’ – a fried egg – to just about anything you please. Don’t forget dessert, which is just as customizable: pick two cookies, mix and match encouraged, and choose your ice cream flavor to smush into the center for an incredible ice cream sandwich. It’s almost like being a kid again…but better, because no one’s making you eat vegetables if you don’t want to – but if you do, you can have those ‘balls over a salad, too.
Despite its website URL, Defonte’s is in Manhattan (having long since moved out of Brooklyn), and serves up some of the best sandwiches around. They make their own fresh mozzarella on premises, and any sandwich is made better with its addition. Plenty of sandwiches to choose from, but one of the standouts is definitely the Nicky Special: ham, capicollo, salami, fried eggplant, provolone, hot salad, marinated mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, oil & vinegar – sure to put you in that happy place right between food coma and food bliss.
260 Bleecker St
New York, NY 10014
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There is only one thing you need to know about Faicco’s Italian Specialties: the Italian special is the one you want. Don’t think twice about it, just tell the counterman your order, step back, let the man work while you marvel at the quick dance of sandwich seduction happening before your eyes. First, a long loaf of bread is sliced open, fluffy innards quickly dispatched; cured meat after cured meat thinly shaved directly into the sandwich as your mouth begins to water; and the cheeses, peppers, dressing, everything, added so deftly if you blink you might miss a step. Hold your wrapped sandwich in your hands and try not to quiver with excitement as you take your first bite of sandwich bliss.
Northern Spy Co.
Though there’s an extensive menu at Northern Spy Food Co., including duck fat fries – trend alert! – the real deal is in the meatball sandwich (pictured). Better than your mother used to make, spread out onto deliciously soft bread with a thinly sliced, melty cheese that isn’t quite mozzarella, you will find yourself stuffing your face with each bite, praying the sandwich never ends… and when it does, you’ll shamefully be both glad and sad. Sad that it’s gone, but glad because you couldn’t eat another bite without having to roll out of the place.
While the sandwiches are only available for lunch, they are not to be missed. The Italian combo is ridiculously delicious, and the chicken parm isn’t far behind in terms of taste. House-roasted turkey on a roll or hero will also blow your mind; the
House of Sandwich
17 Ann St
New York, NY 10038
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A small, unassuming storefront, it’s all too easy to keep walking past House of Sandwich (aka Pomodoro Sandwich House; the signs out front are a little unclear) without ever feeling compelled to step inside. You might think it’s just like any other sandwich shop in the area, but that would be doing House of Sandwich a great disservice. Aside from excellent, made-to-order sandwiches, they offer housemade soups that change daily, and pasta dishes to sate the hungriest of folks- all for about $10. Any of their sandwiches can be had as a ‘half’ – with a bag of chips, or a bowl of soup (choose from small or large) – making your lunch infinitely customizable. Try all the combinations!
113 Mott St
New York, NY 10013
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The perfectly made banh mi (Vietnamese sandwich) is all about balance: the innards, a combination of earthy pate schmeared across the fluffy heart of the bread, pickled veggies, cooling cucumber, verdant cilantro, the savory meat of your choosing, a dash of Maggi, and if you’ve asked for it spicy, the garlicky tang of Sriracha along with crunchy fresh jalapeno slivers, all balanced against the wonderful bread (baked in-house at Paris Sandwich), crisp baguette that yields to your bite and reveals an impossibly delicate inside. Paris Sandwich clearly understands the importance of the bread – afterall, it is the first thing you taste – and bake all of their luscious baguettes in-house, which are available for purchase unaccompanied. But the reason you’re there, eyes wide at the huge display cases of glorious desserts, treats, and goodies: banh mi. Order the combo for $5 (pictured), which gets you your choice of banh mi (starting in price at $4 alone, though the combo banh mi is slightly smaller), a green tea waffle and a tea/coffee. Ask for the Paris Special and leave happy; there is absolutely no better sandwich than a well-made banh mi, and Paris makes it all too easy to pretend it’s summer while you enjoy your sandwich. And if you have room when you’re done: check out the displays of desserts and pick out a pretty one.
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Yvo Sin is the founder and head writer of The Feisty Foodie.