MEAAAAT! MEAT, MEAT, MEAT! Ever since I stopped buying meat to save money on groceries, any sort of eating establishment with the word meat in the title lures me in like a mosquito to one of those mosquito zapping contraptions. I also really like deli sandwiches for some reason, so when I heard that the old school Italian folks at Graham Ave Meats & Deli make a great Italian hero, I knew I had to walk the six or so blocks over from my apartment to check it out.
While it looks like a normal deli on the outside, inside this mom & pop store there are tons of imported Italian goodies to be had, along with a few sandwiches to choose from. Also, for some reason, Lady Gaga is always blasting whenever I go in there. You can take that however you’d like to. What I’m trying to say is that this little gem is a godsend among the plethora of other delis in the area that serve up half-ass Boars Head sandwiches to the masses. For only a few bucks more you can get a work of sandwich art.
The two sandwiches to get are the Willie’s Italian Special ($8) and The Godfather ($7), the latter of which is pictured above. They’re almost identical, with the former having three Italian meats inside, and the latter having two meats and a cheese. My vagueness in describing this sandwich is partially because A) I really don’t remember what was inside (though I spy some salami in that photo) and B) it doesn’t really matter anyways. Whoever is making your sandwich (it’s usually the owner or one of his sons) tends to just throw in whatever they feel like adding that day, so you never get the same sandwich twice.
The one thing that you do get to choose is if you want the sandwich “spicy” or “sweet”. If you get it sweet, you get sweet pickled red peppers and a mild provolone cheese. The spicy rendition adds in some chili-spiked olive oil and swaps out the mild provolone for a smokier version. Since I’m not the biggest fan of spicy food, I always get mine sweet. From what I can gather, no one way is better than the other.
The folks here are true sandwich masters. One of my biggest complaints with most Italian subs is that you tend to just taste an ambiguous “meat” as opposed to the different ingredients. Not so here. Everything is sliced and layered just so, and if it doesn’t knock your socks off then I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with you (and I don’t think we can be friends anymore). The only problem that I’ve encountered is that occasionally the bread is less than fresh, but for the most part the delicious Italian heroes are soft and pillowy.
One of these can easily make for two meals, though you should probably eat it all in one sitting as the condiments tend to soak into the bread, and no one likes mushy sandwiches. You could also share it with a friend, but who would want to do that. Just eat it all yourself, goddamnit!
Graham Ave Meats & Deli / 445 Graham Ave between Frost & Richardson Sts / Cash Only / (718) 389-9777