The Elevated Sandwich
Forget about custom-blend cheeseburgers and faux -Neapolitan pizzas. These days, in haute-comfort-food circles, gourmet sandwiches are all the rage. At Locanda Verde, in Tribeca, Andrew Carmellini, that master of casual urban Italian cooking, builds his slow-cooked-lamb sandwich with softly cooked peppers and a spoonful of cumin-spiced Greek yogurt on a squeezy rosemary bun. The best place for a gourmet sandwich fix in midtown is A Voce Columbus, where Missy Robbins serves her nine artfully constructed tramezzini during lunchtime only. The accomplished list includes puffy slabs of focaccia decked with mushroom, prosciutto, and arugula pesto, and fat ciabatta rolls stuffed with fresh figs, ricotta, and ribbons of lardo. But the one I can’t get out of my head is the delicious open-faced construction of grilled country bread layered with the fiery, chile-colored Calabrian sausage called ’nduja, slivers of Pecorino and pickled fennel, and a single delicately fried egg.
If you can’t kick your haute-cheeseburger habit, the bacon-jam-and-caramelized-onion-topped Bash Style Burger, which Josh Capon serves at his cozy new Soho gastropub, Burger & Barrel, is one you ought to try. If bacon is your addiction, I suggest you waddle over to Vandaag, the stylish new Dutch- and Danish-themed restaurant on lower Second Avenue. The young chef Phillip Kirschen-Clark is an acolyte of madcap pyrotechnic cooks like Wylie Dufresne and Paul Liebrandt, and his lunchtime menu features a whole variety of creative open-faced smørrebrød sandwiches, the most satisfying of which is fortified with garden greens, fresh-cut peaches, and thick country slabs of Benton’s bacon from Tennessee. For an even messier, down-to-earth pig out, I like to stand in line with the rest of the salivating fatso wise guys who queue up daily at Francis Garcia, Will Gallagher, and Sal Basille’s inspired East Village sandwich destination, This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef, for a taste of the dirigible-size This Way—a roast-beef classic made with mounds of succulent prime rib and drenched, in the classic Coney Island style, in oceans of Cheez Whiz. And if you’re looking for the ultimate in handcrafted retro deli pleasure, you’ll find it across the river at Noah Bernamoff’s ode to the Montreal delis of his youth, Mile End. All of the aggressively faithful pastrami creations at this little Boerum Hill storefront operation are exceptional, but there’s no better way to end a New York gastronomic ramble than with a late-night taste of the faintly tangy smoked-meat sandwich on rye, served, in classic fresser style, with a perfectly, beautifully proportioned, crisp “Brooklyn-brined” pickle.