Montclair Eats: hot sandwiches for chilly days
By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
In Montclair Eats, food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair restaurants.
DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels.
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Last year, I wrote about my favorite Italian sandwiches in town. I think sandwiches are much too broad a topic to cover in just one article, and feel the need to revisit sandwiches from a different specific perspective: hot sandwiches.
But narrowing down this category to three options in this town is virtually impossible! There are so many options! Somehow, I managed to make my choices. If I missed your favorite place, I do apologize. Sincerely. Here are the three hot sandwiches I decided to feature this month:
- The “Ben Special” from Watchung Delicatessen.
- The “Italian Cooked Ham” from Cafe Giotto.
- The “Clam Strip Po-Boy” from Jack’s Seafood Shack. I had so much fun sampling these sandwiches, mainly because they are so different, yet from the same general food category.
________________________________________________________________________The “Ben Special” from Watchung Delicatessen is a very nostalgic sandwich for me. I have been ordering it for more than 10 years now and it is among my favorites that the deli has to offer. Its simplicity is its strength. Consisting of “only” chicken cutlet, bacon, melted cheddar, and barbecue sauce, this sandwich contains a massive amount of flavor, texture, and mouthfeel that all participate in a wonderfully complete experience. The smokiness of the bacon and barbecue sauce, the crispiness of the chicken, and the really nice creamy-fatty element from the cheese brings everything together into a thrillingly warm, lasting flavor experience. I would definitely suggest exploring the entire “Special Sandwich Menu” at the deli if you haven’t already. They are worth a try, every one of them!
I would suggest trying other sandwiches at Jack’s as well, with the lobster grilled cheese being quite good, especially if you aren’t counting calories.
I love all three of these sandwiches and they are remarkably similar despite using distinctly different ingredients. They are texturally compelling, as well as flavorful and exciting. The ingredients used in them aren’t frilly. On the contrary, they serve an actual purpose. I would implore that you try them all but, as always, try not to do it all in the same day!
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