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Best Italian sandwich in Boston?

Can anyone tell me where to get a good, authentic Italian cold cut andwich/sub/grinder in downtown Boston? I have tried the north end and various delis, but most shops use poor quality bread and/or cold cuts. I'm looking for a good authentic NY Italian grinder. Any advice?Thanks for your replies.

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  1. Big Belly Deli in Lynn Ma 424 washington st the best

    2 Replies
    1. re: Saltofboston

      Of course, last time I checked Lynn was not in Downtown Boston!

      Al's State Street makes a great Italian sub on their superb, house made rolls.

      1. re: Blumie

        Purity/Fresh cheese on Endicott street in the North End........hands down best italian in the city.

    2. Sorry but you'll have to go to NY for an authentic NY Italian grinder.

      You can get a good authentic Italian sandwich (sub) at Pace's downtown/NE, Tutto Italiana..NE + other locations, Purity Cheese..NE and the previously mentioned Al's..downtown.

      1 Reply
      1. re: 9lives

        Yah, I thought a 'grinder', in the chow rehlm, was something you put meat through!, unless you're from Western MA or elsewhere. However, I do agree with your recs, I'll have a sub..thanks.

      2. Hi...I love the Meatball Sub at Artu's in the North End. They also have another location on Charles st.

        89 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

        6 Prince St., Boston, MA 02113

        2 Replies
        1. re: noonoo3

          Artu also does a great roast lamb and eggplant sandwich..worth a try if yo9uhaven't already.

          1. re: noonoo3

            Artu's Italian sandwiches are great. You beat me to it. I love their marinated eggplant and cold cut sub.

          2. I agree with Blumie -- my favorite in town is at Al's near Faneuil Hall.

            I also like Sessa's and Bob's, in Somerville and Medford, respectively.

            1. Outside of Boston, the New Deal in Revere make an amazing "Top Shelf" Italian sub that is made with all of the best quality cold cuts and, honestly, could feed a family of three! :)

              1. The Italian Cafe, a little storefront on Broad Street near the corner of Milk in the financial district. The bread, in particular, is a superb crusty baguette like specimen.

                1. Sulemaria Italiana in the N End. I forget the name of the street, it is directly off of Hanover. They will make you whatever your heart desires and the bread is authentic peasant style

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Locutus

                    Is this something new?

                    I go in there a lot and I've only seen the premade prosciutto/mozzarella/basil and focaccio. They're very good and I buy them when I need a bunch of sandwiches..in a hurry.

                    SI is on Richmond St.

                  2. I'm curious: what makes an "authentic NY-style grinder" different from any other sub, hoagie, hero, wedge, etc.? Growing up in MA, I found the term "grinder" often meant "toasted sub", a sub that spent some time in the pizza oven, as opposed to cold subs.

                    If good-quality bread is the difference, you might try Domenic's in Waltham, an Italian bakery that does excellent panini, including some really good Italian cold-cut ones: look on the "deli panini" section of their menu.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      I grew up here and for us a "grinder" was always a cold sub, and typically of mixed ingredients like an Italian. Something hot like a parm or meatballs was always a "sub."

                      1. re: bee

                        I also grew up here, and always considered grinder synonymous with sub (and tonic synonymous with soda).

                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        Of course as a transplant from Brooklyn, there was only one name for these kinds of sandwiches - "Hero" - all the others were imposters. The one major difference I have noticed is that the bread itself always seemed crustier in New York than in most places up here. The kind of crustiness that kind of scratched the roof of your mouth. Since I haven't been back to Brooklyn in many years, can't say for sure if this is still the case. Don't find that as much with subs here. Not a complaint - just a difference. Similar to our long running discussions on this Board over the years about the differences between Boston pizza and New York pizza.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          being from Lynn they were all Subs (short for submarine) and a Grinder was as MC notes heated or toasted.

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            I grew up here, and grinders were always toasted, and had lettuce on them! The subs we bought were not toasted, and the usual toppings were tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, pickles and olive oil. Grinders were usually served in greek "house of Pizza" places. I grew up just north of Boston.

                            1. re: macca

                              I am also "from here" and will also chime in, and remember having a similar thread regarding "________ house of Pizza" several months ago. The grinder is a hot sub, either because cold ingredients are toasted in the oven, or because the basic ingredients are hot.... in other words, there is technically no such thing as a meatball sub (unless you don't finish part and put it in the fridge for later) it should be a meatball grinder. The toasting of an italian grinder melts the cheese, crisps the cold cuts, releases extra oils from the meat into the bread, and crisps the crust so that it cuts the roof of your mouth in hundreds of spots, enhancing enjoyment of the vinegar dressing. Obviously, the cold veggies (shredded iceberg lettuce, peppers and onions) are added after the heating process. Should be eaten at a plastic table in the shop, as delay leads to wilting of the cold ingredients and soggy bread.

                              Forgive my rant. Interestingly, I do not think there is another area of the country that has different names for hot and cold sandwiches. You can't get a italian grinder in pennsylvania, even when you very carefully explain what you want in loving, step by step detail. I think it was years of living away from Boston and craving the italian grinders of my youth that makes me so strident about how they should be made.

                              1. re: tdaaa

                                Great post! But I prefer Italian subs over grinders. But your post may just have me hitting my local house of pizza to give them another try!

                                1. re: tdaaa

                                  tdaaa, we often get a couple of Italians from Joe Pizza in Medford, and then bring them home, scrap off the cold veggies into a bowl, heat the naked subs in a hot toaster oven until the bread is crispy and the cheese is melted, and then replace the cold toppings. Really good.

                                  1. re: bear

                                    Now that is good thinking - I have a horror of soggy bread, and never considered doing this, but it makes excellent sense. IMHO, the major limitation of "_____ house of pizza" is the lack of beer at most of these places. I always seem to get the craving for an Italian when I have been working around the house and I am hot, sweaty and really, really dirty. Coincidentally, that is also the time that I want a nice light beer in a frosty mug. Now I can have them together. Thanks, bear.

                                    1. re: tdaaa

                                      My pleasure. Make sure you carry the sub home right side up, or the juices get the top of the bread soggy and it's hard to get crispy. I learned the hard way. Remember to flatten the sub out pretty well.

                                      Nothing like a cold beer to temper the heat of the extra hots that we get. Just beware of places that put the veggies on the bottom.

                            2. Try the Big Ragu at Hot Tomato's on North St. in the North End. Nice selection of cold cuts...prosciutto, cappicola, genoa salami, mortadella, provolone & hot tomatoes vinaigrette on crispy italian roll.

                              1. When I hear "grinder" I think Sub Sandwich, "NY Style" - I have no idea what that means. For a "Sub" - my faveorite is Bova's bakery on Salem Street in the North End, consitency varies greatly depending on who is behind the counter. Tutto Italiano on Fleet Street has an excellent italian cold cut sandwich but I guess I wouldn't consider it a "grinder" or a "sub" but that may be splitting hairs and I wouldstill highly reccomend it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Hambone Willy

                                  I think those from NYC often consider "NY-style" some award equivalent to the "best tasting proper way to cook something." I got into a discussion on another thread about 'NY-style fried chicken,' which after having spent many years in the South, I had to chuckle about. I half-expect to see 'NY-style brisket' being raved about soon. I will grant though that the ethnic enclaves of NY do produce some amazing foods..

                                  My favorite, and I know, its not in Boston based on the O.P.'s request, is Bob's in Medford - the make a very good Italian sub. I am not sure where the difference lies, but I've always considered grinders to be heated, whereas subs are served cold. There are so many names for the type of sandwich - hero, hoagie, etc, not even including ethnic options like bahn mi - that I just think "is it on a long tubular bun? Then its a sub..."

                                  1. re: grant.cook

                                    Bob's in Medford is good in it's own way. The atmosphere is lively. They have a sub counter in the back of the market. They also have a deli with prepared foods.

                                2. I never heard the term "Italian" much to describe this kind of sandwich until I moved to Boston. In northern NJ, or the NYC commuter suburbs of that area, "sub" is the most widely used expression, and a ham, salami, provolone combo is usually known as a "Number 1", since it's always the first on the menu over the counter. That said, I think Pace does a decent one, but it's best when it's made with shredded iceberg lettuce doused in oil and red wine vinegar with a dash of oregano.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: wontonton

                                    Italian subs are made with Italian cold cuts, and American subs are made with bologna, ham instead of Italian cold cuts.

                                  2. I had never heard of "an Italian" before moving to Boston either. I found this wikipedia article to be very helpful in defining what makes an Italian sub special.

                                    ETA the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarin...

                                    Not downtown, but you can get a great Italian at Sessa's in Davis Square.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      Interesting wiki- but when I was growing up, subs did not include lettuce- only grinders had lettuce. Small subs were sometimes werved on "spikie " rolls ( which you can still get wholesale at Piantedosi'a in Malden)

                                      1. re: macca

                                        Do you mean "spuckie"? You can still get them at Torretta's in Revere as well.

                                        1. re: El Guapo

                                          sorry- didn't proofread- definitley meant spuckies

                                          1. re: macca

                                            I was playing on Chowhound and put "Spuckie" in the search. It brought me here. Being from Roxbury, JP, Dot, that is what we called an Italian meat sandwich. We usually had tonic with it.

                                            My husband had never heard of a spuckie to him it was a sub.
                                            We moved to CT because he was in the Navy on a Submarine. They called the sandwich a grinder. Never understood why they wouldn't take advantage and call them subs.

                                            1. re: joda

                                              A spuckie- at least just north of Boston- is really a small sub roll- actully probably a french roll. Our family used to buy them at Piantadosi warehouse in Malden. I still go there, as a matter of fact- wonder if they still call them spuckies. Will have to see next time I am there!

                                    2. No such thing as a Grinder in NY.... BUT.... great Italian Sandwiches at Dino's in the N. End.

                                      1. Not downtown, and the bread isn't crusty, but I like the Italian at Roy's in East Boston. I usually get the Roy's special, which comes with cold cuts I don't usually see ( and can't remember right now).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: El Guapo

                                          I've had Roy's and have been impressed. Also Bottega in Coolidge Corner does a nice Italiano. I was in Dedham today and thought that I would stop in at Santoro's which has just been mentioned. No luck,they close at 4.

                                        2. Lest we forget Sam Scola's fabulous Potato & Egg sandwich on a braided Scali roll. Oh! My! God! Please don't talk to me while I'm eating one.

                                          1. Another good place is Tutti Italiano in Wellesley. They slice their lettuce on the deli slicer to get really thin shreds. They have another location in Lexington.