I loathe the term gourmet as an adjective, in virtually every context. It’s technically a noun but by common bastardization it has turned into a sometime adjective. Jimmy John’s commits this sin in the worst way possible, it advertises its sandwiches as being “gourmet,” yet no real gourmet would ever set foot in such a hackneyed establishment. Gourmet to Jimmy John (If he even exists, I doubt but just this once, I’m hoping there is some dickhole somewhere named Jimmy John who opened a sub par sub shop that took off despite its mediocre offerings.) must mean really chewy, dense bread and tons of mayonnaise.
Viro’s Italian Bakery August 22, 2008
Jessica and Noel invited me to Viro’s Italian Bakery for dinner on Thursday. I had no idea where or what it was but I was intrigued anyway. It’s located at 22nd and Sarnoff or as it’s also known, Bum Fuck Egypt the east side. I have nothing against east side of town specifically but something about it just doesn’t feel right, like it’s in another town. It’s rare that I get over that far east unless I’m looking in vain for farmer’s market that I’m starting to think doesn’t exist. Jessica has a pretty good eye, or is it ear, for finding the east side’s hidden gems so Cal and I packed some provisions and loaded up the car.
Turns out Viro’s is a bakery (no shit) that also serves panini sandwiches, subs and a few hot pasta dishes. Thursday night is spaghetti and meatballs night but since I’m still sort of reeling from the all you can eat extravaganza that is The Elbow Room I opted for the panino vesuvio: Hot sopressata, hot cappocolla, hot cappy, pepper jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, red peppers and Viro’s house dressing. They offer the option of having it pressed on the panini press, which I highly recommend. I also got the pasta salad on the side for an extra fifty cents.
The sandwich was fantastic. There perfect quantities of all the fillings, no one out shined the others. The three different meats, which aren’t all that different to begin with, melded well with the cheese and the vegetables were all fresh and crisp. The pasta salad didn’t fare quite as well, though I’m not going to hold that against them, anything held all day in a little plastic cup is going to lose some of its integrity. The meal also came with a chocolate chip cookie which Jessica thought contained just a hint of butterscotch. It was a good finish.
Cal got the pork cutlet sandwich and an order of mozzarella stix (their spelling). I know he fucking loved his sandwich since he basically shut down and quit talking. I think I saw him give it a little kiss, a little fondling, whispered in its ear a little.
The mozzarella stix were a thing to behold. They were perfectly breaded with a real light batter. They broke apart and the gooey cheese extended from mouth to hand. These are, I’m not shitting you in any shape or form, the best mozzarella sticks ever created. I’m serious, these mozzarella sitx deserve a creation myth.
Noel got a chicken parmigiano sub that looked to be just as tasty as everything else. He declared it a full success. Jessica had a panino prosciutto without some veggies I’m sure, which she seemed to enjoy. They were enamored with the mozzarella stix as well. After we finished we all went to browse the desert case. Viro’s has an extensive pastry offering serving everything from cannolis to black and white cookies. I had one of the aforementioned cookies as well as a little tart shaped like a pie.
The pie shaped tart was delicious, every bit as delectable as it was adorable. The black and white cookie was a little spongy and not something I’d get from Viro’s again. Cal got a cannoli. While everyone was decided Cal kept reminding us that he was, “getting his cannoli filled.” Good one, dude. He originally was going to get it to go but then took one look and had to eat it immediately.
Noel got one of the biggest pieces of German chocolate cake I’ve ever seen. He put in a good six or seven minutes of work and only got a quarter of the way through. I think he may have passed out in the middle. Jessica got a mini eclair and a mini cream puff.
The interior of Viro’s is pretty nondescript, they sell a few Italian canned items and offer a deli featuring Boar’s Head meats (who cares). Viro’s is the first east side restaurant that I’d return to for deserts or sandwiches. They also advertised a Friday fish fry and a Sunday breakfast buffet which looked possibly the best breakfast in all of town (sorry giant Bobo’s pancake). I give Viro’s 8.5 mozzarella stixx (the extra x is for extra ass kicking).
Sandwich Rule No. 7 August 6, 2008
Add Bacon. It makes it better, not just the sandwich, your life.
Sandwich Rule No. 6 July 22, 2008
A sandwich is as much about texture as it is about flavor. Differing layers of crsipy, chewey, gooey, crunchy, dense, light or slippery can turn your sandwich from mere lunch to a tasting experience that you won’t soon forget. A good texture tenant to stand by is that the sloppier the filling the rougher the bread. That means grilled cheese and PB&J’s are better on toast. I think we can all agree on that. Some people might ask, “What about the sloppy joe? You don’t eat sloppy joes on toast.” To which I would reply, “Try toasting the bun, amatuer.” That goes for all barbecue style sandwiches. Toast those buns and you’ll find out what I’m talking about. Now as for a denser, ok meatier, sandwich, you have to have soft bread. We’re talking about meatball sandwiches or cheese steaks here. I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions here, rules are merely rules.
Sandwich Rule No. 5 July 12, 2008
When crafting a sandwich for another there are some general guidelines about filling placement. Meat must touch cheese if they are sharing bread. In addition, either meat or cheese must be the bottom layer of filling. Lettuce, or any other leafy green, must be next to the top most layer of bread but may be featured on different levels as well as long as it also appears just beneath the top bread. Condiments must, at least, touch either meat or cheese. For a sandwich to go bread-condiment-lettuce-cheese-meat-bread is unacceptable. You basically loose the condiment. All other additional filling items must be contained between the leafy green and the meat cheese combination. Sandwiches, that are acceptable, even delicious may exist outside of this construction archetype but be prepared for potential mishap.
Sandwich Rule No. 4 July 10, 2008
Experiment. Get creative. How else are we going to find out how delicious Tuna BLT’s are or cheese and pickle sandwiches? Do something crazy, it just might work. There’s no shame in failing, we’re only talking about sandwiches. Unless you own a sandwich shop, then failing is incredibly shameful.
While a sandwich can and often will be merely a vehicle for a particular condiment, said condiment must never be catsup. Catsup has no place on any sandwich. If you can produce a sandwich that is improved upon by the addition of catsup then I will give twenty dollars. It’s not a lot of money but, seriously, it’s a fucking sandwich. That has catsup on it.