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Searching for great subs in Cambridge/Somerville

Lately I've been craving a really good Italian-style sub. Around Columbus Ohio, where I grew up, there's several pizza/sub places that deliver hot sub sandwiches on crusty toasted bread, overstuffed with meat and veggies, topped with provolone and enough oil & vinegar (or Italian dressing) to dribble off the end when you bite in.

Anyone know where I can find a good example of this in the area?

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  1. Vinny's in Somerville (on Broadway, near Sullivan Station) gets my vote.

    3 Replies
    1. re: LeoLioness

      Vinny's looks good, except that it seems that they only do cold Italian subs, not hot & toasted ones.

      1. re: Boston_Otter

        I don't think I've ever had a hot Italian sub, actually. Toasted bread, yes. Toasted sub? No.

        1. re: Boston_Otter

          If you ask nicely, they might toast it for you.

          White Sport (used to be in Union Square, and until recently Magoun Square -- is it still there?) had really good cold ones and I imagine they would have toasted them.
          Dave's fresh pasta has killer sandwiches and would probably put one together for you. How about Angelina's in Teele Square? The trouble is that I don't really like subs. Maybe I just haven't had a great one.

          Teele Square Cafe
          Somerville, MA, Somerville, MA

          White Sport Restaurant
          506 Medford St, Somerville, MA 02145

      2. Relatively recent thread - http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/621030

        I like Bob's on Main Street in Medford - the Imported Italian, but it is not served hot.

        I like La Ronga on Somerville Ave. for a really good and cheap sub - you can talk them into putting the bread with meat and cheese in the pizza oven for a spell, then to finish with the cold toppings. But they look at you kinda funny when you ask for it.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Bob Dobalina

          Bob's makes a great authentic italian which if i am correct is not what op wants. Most of the italians in that thread are too authentic as well.

          One big tip off to a good toasted "italian" is if the place uses shredded lettuce.

          1. re: joth68

            Exactly -- the sub I'm talking about is to "traditional Italian" as General Tso is to Chinese food. I've had excellent authentic Italian subs at Sessa's (their prosciutto + provolone is great), but I'm curious to see if the midwest-style "Italian" sub is done anywhere in the area.

            1. re: Boston_Otter

              Funny...to me, what you are looking for is "authentic" everywhere OTHER than New England. Any "authentic" Italian sub I've had in NYC's gravity was like the one you described, and down the east coast.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Yep, in Columbus (or anywhere else), if I ordered what I described, it'd be a genuine, authentic Italian sub. Around here, a cold, thin hoagy roll filled with prosciutto and capicola is more the order of business.

              2. re: Boston_Otter

                The hint about Greek sub shops for a toasted italian cold cut sub (as opposed to imported italian which we have discussed in the past). For an Italian sub shop which does a fair amount of toasting Armando's does a decent job. Their bread isn't crusty nor can I think of many possibilities for that, although the Snack Bar in East Cambridge might be a bit more (its Portuguese owned, but pizza/sub wise essentially a greek shop) and I usually get other things, but Skampa up the road has a few more options and does a fair amount of toasted subs too.

                424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

          2. In my experience, greek pizza places tend to specialize in the in the toasted "italian" sub that you want. Not exactly in your neighborhood but Nicks in Medford and Big A in Malden are my current favorite.

            4 Replies
            1. re: joth68

              Reminds me of the first time I ordered an italian sub after moving here from NY, not realizing that Greeks ran the pizza joints around here.

              "I'll have an Italian hero with everything"

              "We have lamb, beef, or chicken."

              "Huh? I want an Italian"

              "I don't know what that is"

              "You don't know what an Italian hero is?"

              "No, we only have lamb, beef, or chicken."

              Then I figured out he thought I was saying gyro, not hero.

              "Oh, I'll have an Italian sub with everything."



              "do you want it toasted?"


              "do - you - want - it - toasted - in - the - ov-en?"

              "Ohhhhh....ummm no, why would I want it toasted?"

              We both looked at each other like we were from different planets.

                1. re: LStaff

                  hahaa sooo true. I had a similar experience when I moved here.

                  But the toasted italian-sub-from-a-greek-owned-pizza-place is pretty good.---the toasting takes the edge off the lower quality "cold" cuts.

                2. re: joth68

                  I have to agree. This type of Italian sub is readily available, at practically every sub shop/house of pizza. Not so great and not particularly Italian cold cuts and cheese in a sub roll, into the oven on request, finished with fresh stuff of your choosing, including lettuce, oil and vinegar etc. - your choice. I thought it was a local standard.

                3. I like the italian sub at Cinderella's in Central.

                  1. I think Aram's pizza/sub shop on the corner of Prospect St. and Cambridge St. in Inman Sq could give you what you're looking for. I used to get a toasted veggie sub from them all the time and it was basically an "Italian" sub without the meat and it was really tasty. Alot of people I know think this place is awful, but I always thought their toasted subs were good "sub shop fare". Nothing remotely gourmet about them, but it doesn't sound like you're looking for that anyway.

                    Aram's Cafe'
                    85 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA 02478

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: nachovegas

                      Arams #1 is closed.

                      Aram's Cafe'
                      85 Trapelo Rd, Belmont, MA 02478

                    2. If you feel like driving a litlle..........
                      DiBlasis Broadway everett. On the top of the first hill out of Everett Sq. on the left across from McKinnons

                      Sabatinos on mass ave in arlington. about a mile in from Rt 16

                      Stellas on Mt Auburn St in Watertown 2 blocks up from the Towne Diner

                      All 3 of these places have excellent subs

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Locutus

                        Cheddars is a little sub/sandwich shop over by the Fresh Pond rotary (in that same plaza as Trader Joe's and Dunkin Donuts) The quality of their sandwiches is excellent -really fresh ingredients, delicious bread delivered fresh each day, all made to order, of course, and you always have the option to have the sandwich oven-toasted. The owner is really friendly and it is totally a neighborhood place that I'd go to all the time (if that was my neighborhood.) That's where I would definitely send you -- I'm sure they'd make an excellent Italian.

                        Trader Joe's
                        1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                        1. re: twentyoystahs

                          Good call on Cheddars... I've never gotten a sub there, only their Greek wraps. Thanks.

                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                            Thanks for that recommendation - I always overlook that place -

                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                              Yes, their name and logo always made me think the place was crap. I will definitely check out Chedder's, oystah.

                              1. re: Alcachofa

                                I love Cheddar's. My favorite is the cheese steak sandwich with mushrooms on a toasted bun. I love that sandwich so much that it's hard not to order it. There salads were also good, but it's been years since I've had one there.

                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  Agree that they have pretty good subs at Cheddars. I like their chicken salad sub and my wife loves the grilled chicken salad which has sauteed as well as raw veggies. Prices are very reasonable.

                                  I am not sure their sub is exactly what the OP is looking for though. (I have had that exact sub around here and am racking my brain to remember where)

                                  They are nice enough to me now that they know me, however friendly would not be my first adjective to describe the owner. If you go in there at lunch time not knowing what you want, they can be a bit soup naziish.

                          2. re: Locutus

                            Sabatino's has a great Italian sub but no oven to toast it in, at least the one next to Penzeys in Arlington Heights.

                            Sabatino's Restaurant
                            735 Broadway, Malden, MA 02148

                            1. re: GretchenS

                              That is D'Agostinos you are thinking off. Sabatinos is 2-3 blocks West of the Capitol Theatre

                              1. re: Locutus

                                You're absolutely correct, brain cramp.

                          3. Beauty's Pizza. I've only had their pizza, which I love, but their online menu has an Italian sub that sounds a lot like what you want.


                            3 Replies
                            1. re: pasuga

                              That sounds pretty much dead-on; thanks, I'll give it a shot!

                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                Let us know if you like it? I've never had a hot Italian sub, but am addicted to the cold Itlaian hoagies I grew up with in Central NJ. Lots of meat, good bread and veggies and great Italian dressing. Best version of that I've had in Boston is the tiny Croissant take-out place in the Park Square building downtown.

                                Park Square Cafe
                                31 Saint James Ave Ste L15, Boston, MA 02116

                                1. re: pasuga

                                  I grew up on those cold subs in NJ too (although our favorites had thousand island dressing in addition to the oil & vinegar dressing). Which is the Park square bldg you're talking about?

                            2. I can'.t think of any place around here where I've seen a "hot sub" along the lines of what you'd get in columbus. Then again, there also ain't any places serving up pizza that's like what you'd get there either :)

                              Although now that I type this I could swear that I've had something that's at least close, but maybe I'm just remembering the last time I was in OH

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: jgg13

                                I shamefully admit that every once in awhile the nostalgia for a midwest-style cracker-crust pizza catches up with me and I indulge in Domino's.

                                1. re: Boston_Otter

                                  I catch myself craving what I call ohio pizza (although they have it in louisville too, not sure quite how far the reach is). There's something specific about the sausage there, and I dig how common the banana peppers are. I don't know what it is, but it just doesn't taste quite the same in other midwest pizza styles.

                                  Probably part of it involves memories of walking down to donatos when I was a wee one to play centipede ;)

                                  1. re: jgg13

                                    Donatos, Katie's Pizza (Gahanna), Mr T's Pizza (near airport)... the Ohio style is definitely what I miss. Some would lump in LaRosa's of Cincinnati, but their crust is too thick and their sauce too sweet. And yes, video games at the Gahanna Donato's were a big part of my childhood!

                              2. I believe they have the sub you might be looking for at Riverside pizza. I finally tired it at the suggestion of Nab in another thread and have been stopping by fairly regularly to try a number of their subs.

                                Their subs aren't fancy, but it sound just like what you are looking for. They have no problem toasting it, in fact they ask with every sub if you want it toasted (in one of the pizza ovens). The italian I ordered the other day came just as you describe: stuffed full, nicely toasted oil & vinegar dripping on the paper plate.

                                They also have no problem ordering off the menu. I did a buffalo chicken sub with grilled chicken the other day that was spicy and excellent. They have a grill, flat top, pizza ovens and deep fryers so they can do pretty much whatever you want. All in all not a bad place to have around.

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Gabatta

                                  Hey, glad you're digging on Da Riv, Gabatta ! Did you try the hot'strami ? An old regular recently tipped me off to the pastrami pizza which was a delight.

                                  The grilled chicken is a good option for eating 'light'. I occasionally get the grilled chicken tips with tzatziki in a sub-roll (pic below). The other day had the genoa salami with hot peppers & mustard (mistakenly agreed to lettuce/tomato).

                                  I'm curious to hear what folks have to say about Dimitrio's down the street at Putnam & Brookline St in Cambridgeport. It's hugely popular with the cops. I've only been once, had the veal parm sandwich special, which was fine, but I am quite sure there are a number of gems on the menu - just gotta hone in on them.

                                  1. re: Nab

                                    Misread "gems on the menu" as "germs." Haha not sure that would be way off. Dimitrios and the bizarre empty sub shop across the street (recently changed owners) are both pretty awful and I wouldn't recommend. Unfortunately same goes for Village Grill over on Magazine (I think the same guys own both Dimitrios and VG). If you get good quality food with good flavor at Riverside I wouldn't bother heading east. BTW, I was just driving past Riverside and wondered if anyone ever goes in to order the HOT COFFEE they advertise in the window. Seems like a strange feature for such a place.

                                    1. re: Luther

                                      Even stranger is the Red Bull sign inside that ALSO advertises HOT COFFEE.

                                      1. re: Nab

                                        GTA: Cambridgeport, I suppose

                                    2. re: Nab

                                      I haven't tried the hot'strami yet, but will do so this week.

                                    3. re: Gabatta

                                      All this talk of hoagies and grinders had me back at Da Riv for the sub in question. Lacking familiarity with the Columbus-style, I am uncertain if this will satisfy the OP, but it probably comes close. For one thing, the bread is standard smooshy white, the anti-crusty. But in the toasted context, it works. Secondly, it's not piled high with meats, certainly not skimpy, but not a deli-style, mile-high fistful of a sandwich either. (i happen to like the civility of their sanders) I didn't opt for veggies, simply dressed with oil/vinegar, only lily-gilding was the addition of some hots. Definitely met the drippy criterion. A tasty sander no doubt - whether it fits the style, I hope you'll let us know.

                                        1. re: Nab

                                          Nab - That looks fantastic. I'll try to get down there soon!

                                    4. Armando's pizza on Huron Ave in Cambridge toasts subs, though I've only had toasted ones when the fillings were hot, like meatballs or chicken parm. I'm sure you could ask for veggies (peppers, onions, etc.) and for some oil and vinegar too. But they do not deliver.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: katzzz

                                        Oh, and Armando's has some of the best pizza around IMHO. Thin and savory.

                                      2. Sorry if this is a repeat, but when I get Italians for takeout, I often scrape the fresh toppings into a bowl, heat the meat/cheese/bread in a hot oven for a few minutes, and then put the toppings back on. Hot and crispy with fresh veggies, and you can get the sub earlier in the day and heat it when you want.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: bear

                                          Dave fresh Pasta has great subs, a little expensive but quality ingrediants and a balance of flavor, sweet, spicey, salty, acidity. At the end of the day makes the Italian for me, toasted or not.

                                          Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                          81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144