HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What makes the New York Hero different from all the rest?

Hello New York!

Football season is back and the New York Jets have the season's first night game! I want to create an authentic New York Italian Hero (or Grinder) for the game.

So what makes New York's Italian sandwiches different from Philly or other places? Please, I'm not looking for a list of your favorite sandwich shops, I want to discuss the construction of the New York Hero with some things like:

1. Bread - ultra-crusty and chewy, or a little bit softer inside like Philadelphia?
2. Condiments - just olive oil, or add vinegar too? Mayo? Spicy relish? What do you like?
3. Mozzarella or provolone?
4. What kind of meats are essential? Ham, capicola, proscuitto - what's the best combination?
5. Veggies - yes or no? Roasted pepper, spicy peppers, lettuce, tomato?

Alright, New York, can you guys help me out? Talk to me about the ultimate New York Hero.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: Karl S

      LOL that was my instant thought when I saw this post.

      1. re: Bob W

        Yes, it's kinda the standard answer to NY's food version of that seder question, "Why is this night different from all other nights?".....

      2. re: Karl S

        "The water" is the unversal answer: Better bagels, pizza, bialys, pasta, bread.
        Maybe everything just tastes better in NYC!!

      3. Our take no prisoners attitude.


        1 Reply
        1. re: thew

          We don't call them grinders. To answer your question, the bread. Hero bread in NYC just seems different. Otherwise, pile it on.

        2. This will no doubt turn into a laundry list of personal likes and dislikes. And there will probably be several digressions about Jets vs Giants (with a few disparaging comments thrown back and forth) .

          I'll lay down this one rule, which I *think* is absolute. An Italian sub/hero/grinder/hoagie should never EVER be made with mayo. Otherwise it becomes something else. Something less.

          My personal feelings are that proscuitto is a waste on a sandwich with so many other things going on. Also that roasted red peppers destroy everything they touch. Provolone. Lettuce. Tomato.

          Oh, and you forgot thinly sliced (red) onions, and salt and pepper.

          Go Eagles! ;-)

          1. In New York, aren't they called sub sandwiches? At least the ones that are served cold? Maybe meatball and eggplant parm sandwiches are called heros?

            Whatever they're called, though, I agree with egit: NO MAYO. No proper sandwich should have mayo unless its contents end in "salad."

            3 Replies
            1. re: Jay F

              I've lived in NYC all my life and have never "hoid" of a hero "sammich" called a sub, submarine, grinder, blimp, etc..
              A hero is a hero, stop at Defonte's and ask them.

                1. re: Motosport

                  ...then they'll ask you back "a 1/3rd or 1/2 on that hero"?

                  Defontes has a nice variation on the theme in that they put their 'hot salad' on the hero- it's sort of a giardinera that's not pickled, it's more like, well, a vinegary salad, with the hot pepper flakes sprinkled in there. The Nicky's Special is pretty damn good- it's the third best sandwich they make.

              1. It's crusty semolina bread, that's important. Good fresh cut deli meats-salami (hard or Genoa, never cotto), pepperoni, and capicola or good ham, plus imported provolone. Lettuce, tomato, onion. Oil & vinegar, salt & pepper, maybe a little Italian seasoning.

                No Swiss or fancy flavored oils. No roasted reds. If you gotta have peppers, you got your sliced banana peppers or chopped cherry pepper relish.

                And yeah, a hero is a hero. You got a problem with that?

                1 Reply
                1. re: eclecticsynergy

                  > crusty semolina bread, that's important
                  > Oil & vinegar

                  Given the number of subway sandwich shops in Manhattan, they must be doing something right.

                2. It's crusty Italian bread, although not as crusty as semolina. Just generic deli hero bread that you get here in New York. Good luck.

                  Condiments are cheap olive oil, red vinegar and a sprinkling of oregano. Nothing else.

                  Meat and cheese: a slice or two only per serving of deli provolone, genoa salami, cappocola and sliced pepperoni. It shouldn't be thick.

                  Sliced hot cherry peppers from a jar are the only vegetables that I recall. Lettuce and tomato are reserved for American heroes.

                  1. The bread--crusty semolina. Quality meats and cheeses, your choice among salami, soppressata (hot/sweet), prosciutto, capicolla, mortadella. Provolone or (fresh) mozzarella. Very important--no mayo--oil and red wine vinegar or "shampoo" (oil, red wine vinegar and oregano). No lettuce or tomato--peppers (hot or sweet, roasted or vinegar). Here is a picture of the perfect NY hero IMO: http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2011/0...

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Marge

                      This "shampoo" you speak of,Is it equal parts oil & vinegar?

                      1. re: petek

                        Haha, yes, it's more vinegary than a classic vinaigrette

                    2. wow. I read the question, had my answers, then I read the responses.

                      I live in California and have never had a New York sub, and that is very clear from my ideas vs responses.

                      "1. Bread - ultra-crusty and chewy

                      2. Condiments - olive oil & vinegar too Mayo

                      3. Provolone

                      4. What kind of meats are essential? Imported mortadella w/pistachios,capicola, salami

                      5. Veggies - Roasted red pepper"