at the risk of emasculating myself, i confess to recently feeling like lady capulet, looking forlornly into the dark night and searching for a burst of flavor as bright and rejuvenating as the rising sun. at Alidoro, a tiny italian sandwich shop in soho, i found my romeo. a smoked chicken breast sandwich featuring an extraordinary medley of italian flavors–fresh arugula, delicate bel paese cheese, gentle olives, and assertive hot chilis, all dressed with the best olive oil i’ve ever tasted–the romeo is a testament of love to clean, seasonal italian flavors, to a culinary juliet of sorts. the romeo is not only the best chicken ‘wich on the list, but is also the list’s best italian ‘wich, barely edging out torrisi’s chicken parm in my estimation. our stars have crossed, romeo; my search is over.
new york city is awash in meatballs, but few are as transcendentally delicious as the prodigious balls of flavor stuffed into this ‘wich from terroir tribeca. the meatballs are unmistakably veal, coated in sharp ricotta cheese, and bathed in a brightly herbed tomato sauce. happily, all of that yumminess resides within a crispy roll that never goes soggy, unlike rolls from certain ‘wich chains (*ahem*subway*ahem*). i was so enthralled with the meatballs that i plucked one of them from the roll and savored it with a knife and fork, like a proper food snob. i’ve come a long way from chef boyardee, yes indeedy.
the top 10 countdown begins, and boy, do we have a doozy to kick things off! porchetta, porchetta, oh, wondrous porchetta, you seductive pieces of gutted, deboned, herbed, fat-layered, spit-roasted suckling oinker. i fell in love with you at di palo’s, and now, i want to elope with you and consummate our sizzling love affair. seeing you sitting there, stuffed in between a crispy ciabatta roll, waiting expectantly for me to devour you lovingly–i shiver at the sight. who needs lettuce, tomatoes, or any other silly fixings? i only need you and your salty, peppery, fatty, succulent self, all to myself. it takes two to tango; let’s get it on.
as much as i respect katz’s pastrami, i have a special place in my heart for mile end’s smoked meat ‘wich, a half-pound pile of deli deliciousness. the meat is dry-cured, smoked, and then steamed, which gives it a moister, deeper flavor than katz’s pastrami. in a nod to its new york tribemates, mile end applies mustard and shoves everything in between regular rye bread, but the similarities end there. this is the best deli ‘wich on the list, no doubt.
if i were a consumer of the silly juice, i would want to down several of these bad boys the day after a jag. the fried egg and fried nueske bacon are, of course, requisite for hangovers, but the creme de la creme is the fontina cheese. good Lord, but Murray’s has some awesome cheese. i would bathe in this cheese if i could (i.e., if i had enough of it and if i did not have a roommate/shred of dignity). hermione joined me in splitting this melt. i love hermione, but a little piece of me cried when i shared with her.
much like chef keller’s tuna tartine, chef daniel boulud’s croque monsieur is basically a fancy-pants upgrade of a classic ‘wich, in this case, the ham-and-cheese. rich cheese, smooth bechamel, and distinct ham flavors meld seamlessly in a decadently gooey ensemble. not as aggressively salty as the mark’s, and not as sloppy as breslin’s; refined, composed, restrained, but bursting with flavor; french.
whether you’ve seen “when harry met sally” an umpteen number of times, or whether your idea of a relaxing evening is vegging out in front of “food network” specials on the telly, you know about katz’s delicatessen, and you know about its world-famous pastrami ‘wich. if you slip the boys up front a few bucks, they’ll carve some extra slices for you, but the normal order is plenty prodigious on its own. katz’s pastrami is succulent, buttery-smooth, and nicely spiced, with fat ribbons lovingly left intact for the not-so-discriminating gourmands. slather on the requisite mustard, pack everything into puny slices of rye bread, and you’ve got culinary royalty. care to have what i’m having?