The submarine sandwich you want is made of bread so good you could eat it with just a pat of butter or a dip in olive oil. Most subs are made of bread with the tensile strength of a hot dog bun, and who really wants to eat that unless there’s a hot dog inside? Mario Batali has passionately made the point that a plate of pasta and sauce is all about the quality of the pasta and how it’s prepared; the sauce, he believes, is secondary. I would not go so far as to say that a sub is all about the bread, but without outstanding bread you will not have an outstanding sub.
The sub you want is made of good quality meat and cheese. Boar’s Head cold cuts, for example, are a cut above what you will get in your bun at most sub shops, but if all you’re getting on your sub is some decent brand-name grocery store meat, you might as well make your sub at home. Ideally, you get more than commodity cold cuts on your sub.
The sub you want is perked up with thoughtfully prepared condiments. Well-seasoned oil and some good, perhaps even house-made giardiniera or sweet peppers will make for a deliciously moist and textured sandwich. On the issue of lettuce, I’m usually agnostic: I like the crunch of the green leaf, but sub shop lettuce usually comes pre-cut into shreds that are as dry and flavorless as packing material. Fresh cut and washed lettuce is a critical player in the composition of the sub you want.
The sub you want is at Freddy’s Pizza.
Freddy’s bread is baked fresh every morning (you might want to specify that you want to specify that you want their bread on the sandwich; it’s been reported that they sometimes use Turano, not bad, but not Freddy’s). The flavor of the bread pops lightly yeasty and the crust breaks gently with a bite. Much of Freddy’s sausage is made in house; on my Italian sub, I had outstanding mortadella, salami and capicola (or gabagool, as we Italian-Americans say). The Romaine lettuce is fresh and crisp, and the peppers, both sweet and hot, provide juiciness that keeps the sandwich moist (dryness being the great enemy of all sandwiches).
Bread, meat and condiments; it’s so simple to make a sub, and if you don’t pay proper attention to all the elements, so easy to mess it up. At Freddy’s, they don’t.
While waiting in line at Freddy’s, you’ll be sorely tempted by other lunchtime items coming straight from oven to hot table. As I was waiting for my Italian sub to be made, one of the counter people set down a huge platter of chicken parmesan, steaming hot and smelling about as good as lunch can smell. There were a couple of construction workers behind me, big guys with tool belts and appetites; they let out a collective sigh when the cutlets were placed on the counter before them. I knew what they would be having for lunch.
But I was focused on the Freddy’s sub.
It’s hard to get excited about a sandwich, too often a sad and pedestrian lunchtime choice, more often a default than a desire. On days when I plan to go to Freddy’s, however, I find myself thinking about the Italian sub all morning. It’s that good.
1600 S. 61st Street