Sandwiches had a storied history long before they were even called “sandwiches” (so named for John Montagu, the Fourth Earl of Sandwich, who ate roast beef between two slices of bread as a snack during marathon card games). But out of all the varieties out there, from school-lunch PB&Js to po’ boys, cemitas, bánh mì and cheesesteaks, none rocks my world like a classic Italian deli sandwich.
The Godfather at Graham Avenue Meats in Williamsburg is exactly the kind of sandwich I’d put in a hypothetical “care and feeding of Snackish” instruction manual, alongside necessities like pizza, beer and water. It starts, as all great sandwiches do, with a perfect loaf of bread—crusty enough to stand up to the fillings, but fresh and tender enough to bite through easily. This is cut in half and sprinkled with garlic, pepper and basil, then drizzled with oil and balsamic vinegar. Roasted peppers and chopped spicy peppers are arranged on each half, followed by layers of paper-thin provolone cheese, mortadella, gabagool (capicola), tomato and onion. Finally, the whole thing is finished off with more oil and seasonings before the halves are stacked, sliced in half, and wrapped in paper. The unfailingly polite counter guys put such care into the proportion and structure of this sandwich that you can taste all of these flavors in each bite.
The Godfather ($7.50) comes in spicy, mild, or sweet varieties. I usually order it spicy, which has a pleasant, but not overwhelming, slow-building heat. If you require more meat you can get the Willie’s Italian Special, which is essentially the same, but with three meats instead of two. Graham Avenue Meats has been in business for nearly thirty years, and in addition to old school atmosphere and swoon-worthy sandwiches, they have Italian foodstuffs, pastas, and an impressive butcher counter. It’s takeout only, but it’s a must if you’re in the area and like having the assurance that your sandwich is in good hands.
Graham Avenue Meats & Deli
445 Graham Avenue between Frost St and Richardson St.
Mon-Sat 8am-7pm, Sun 8am-4pm