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Sicilian Sandwiches

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When I was a kid living nearing Bensonhurst many years ago, my Dad would occassionally buy some sandwiches and sides from a Sicilian deli that specialized in small, warm meat sandwiches made with ricotta, thin slices of tender organ meats (maybe lung, or tongue?), and shredded parmesan cheese on a soft roll. I believe they were called, in some Sicilian-Italian American Dialect, "veh-steh'-deh" sandwiches. They were often accompanied by little salty fried cakes made from chick pea flour, and a salad of mixed greens and cold, pickled slices of octopus, sometimes called "pulpa," or conch ("scungilee"). Anybody know of places in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Jersey where these items are still available?

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  1. They are spleen sandwiches, and there was a Village Voice column by Robert Sietsema (sp) a year or so ago listing a few of them, mostly in Bensonhurst.

    6 Replies
    1. re: ruth arcone

      I searched the Village Voice Eats archive and have not been able to come up with this review featuring these sandwiches in Bensonhurst. Any other clues about how to find this review, or an address for one of these places?

      1. re: CuznCJ

        Ferdinando's Foccaceria in Red Hook (Union Street just west of the BQE) makes all of these sicilian dishes. I believe there is another foccaceria on the north side of 86th St. in Bensonhurst nr Stillwell or Bay Parkway - maybe if you seach the Outer boroughs board for foccaceria you will find it.

        1. re: jen kalb

          Yup, just troll 86th St. between Bay Parkway and 25th Avenue and there'll be some foccaceria somewhere...there used to be one next to the Williamsburg bank (whatever it is now) on 86th ST. at 23rd Ave....Joe's FOccaceria, maybe? I am sure they had vasteddi (spleen sandwiches, I think) and other stuff...

          My old hood...used to live on 84th right off of 23rd Ave...

          Still great for Italian pastires and baked stuff Angelo's on 86th at 25th Ave (strawberry shortcakes to die for and great prefitarolle (sp?)creations), and Villa Bella on 86th at 23rd Ave ('lobster tails' filled with french, whipped, or canolli cream or custard are awesome - french cream rules!!),are still great.

          And you're close to L&B SPumoni Gardens...mmmmm....

          1. re: Jill-O
            p
            plum lispenard

            Here is a link to Sietsema's review of some places in Bensonhurst serving what you're looking for:

            http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/00...

            By the way, when I stopped by Gino's it seemed pretty blah. However, it was Wednesday night, not a weekend afternoon...

            1. re: plum lispenard

              Thanks for the link. This was very helpful. I'll let you know what I find!

              1. re: Cuzncj

                You will find what you are looking for at Joe's of Avenue U, one block past McDonald Avenue. They have excellent food. The fried chick pea, plain or as a sandwiche(with fresh riccota on top) is called panelle. Also recommended is their rice ball special and eggplant sandwiches or heros. The cost is under $3.50 for a sandwich. The organ meat sandwich is called vesteda (sp ?). I remember seeing it on their menu. The food here is always fresh. They don't stay open late, so call ahead for the hours.

                Denise