Three Swoon-worthy Sandwiches of NYC

After two years in New York there are three sandwiches Carly DeFilippo still swoons over.
By Carly DeFilippo

I’m not the type of girl who gets excited about a sandwich. Call it sacrilegious, but before I lived in Paris, I wasn’t really “into bread.” I’ve since learned to love a good loaf, but the crusty heritage grain or sourdough boules I crave are more suited to sopping up sauces than stacking up cold cuts.

The average ol’ American sandwich doesn’t celebrate bread; it makes it a mere vehicle for debatably exciting fillers. Moreover, shops who do insist on exquisite loaves often botch the crust-to-inside balance of the ideal bite.

Yet everyone once in a while, I fall upon an inventive sub or panini that revives my faith in the the future of portable lunch. After two years in New York – and countless meals on-the-go – there are three sandwiches I still swoon over, even when I’ve the time for a proper seated feast.

1) Num Pang – Pulled Pork or Catfish w/ Pickled Carrots, Cilantro & Cucumber

When the bahn mi craze hit NYC, I wasn’t the biggest fan, as American baguettes tend to leave me less-than-impressed. In the case of most bahn mi shops, their stale impressions of the seminal French bread remain impossibly dry, no matter the highly-curated contents. So when my sister and mother started raving about a “Cambodian sandwich shop”, I anticipated an equally desiccated sub. To my surprise, Num Pang’s semolina rolls are a softer, subtler sibling to the bahn mi baguette. Here, filling is king, and boy is it delicious. Savory, spicy, acidic and crunchy – it is sustenance and refreshment in one. To boot, the accompanying grilled chili mayo/coconut corn is beyond addictive.

2) No. 7 Sub – Broccoli, Riccota Salata, Lychee Pickles & Toasted Pine Nuts

I’m all for wacky, rare ingredients, so I was pretty intrigued when I got wind of the latest Flatiron food addiction. I’ve tried a few different sandwiches at No. 7, but the broccoli is by far my favorite. I usually hate syrupy-sweet lychees, but pickled, they are genius. Riccota salata and toasted pine nuts are enough to win over any good Italian girl, and I pity people who hate broccoli. Depending on who makes your sub, the bread here can tend a little towards the aforementioned bahn mi dryness, but on a good day it’s just so damn delicious.

3) Porchetta – Porchetta Sandwich

The first NYC sandwich to ever win my heart, the Porchetta classic will go down in East Village history. Can you ever have enough cracklin’? I think not. In fact, I’ve asked for extra and the pig-loving meat carvers are sometimes lovely enough to indulge me. The pork itself is slow-cooked and stuffed with rosemary, sage, garlic, salt and – the hot spice of 2011 – wild fennel pollen. By the way, the similarly seasoned potatoes with cracklin’ are also sinfully good…

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