A great sandwich is like an old friend: Once it’s part of your life, you never forget it. If it’s been years since you last got together, no need to stand on ceremony. The croquet-monsieur at Bistro Rollin (Pelham)? The eggplant, bocconcini, and roasted red pepper wedge at Johnny’s Pizzeria (Mount Vernon)? Cuban sandwich at Anton’s (Croton)? Come to mama!
Then sometimes you meet a new one, as I did when I stumbled into Bread & Cocoa (Larchmont) and saw some sweet little sandwiches tucked into the bottom of the pastry case. One taste of the gently warmed artichoke-mozzarella on perfectly crusty bread and I knew this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Another day I stopped at Martine’s Fine Bake Shoppe (Tuckahoe), lured by the prospect of a sabich sandwich (pita with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, and Israeli salad), with which I was already acquainted, but ended up trying the spinach feta focaccia, becoming hooked on its airy crust and smoky zing of za’atar and black sesame.
Martines’ focaccias (above, left) are some of the best around; On the Way Café serves a mean BLT.
Also in Tuckahoe, The Quarry makes an entirely awesome grilled chicken, broccoli rabe, and mozzarella sandwich big enough for three, served with delicious seasoned fries. On the Way Café (Rye)—which is on the way to Playland, in case you’re wondering—makes wraps with homemade bread dough rolled out every morning and grilled to order (the chicken wrap won Best of Westchester in 2013). Try the BLT, which comes with chive aioli, and tell me it’s not hall-of-fame worthy. (Eating it on the beach makes it even better.) If you hit City Line Deli (White Plains) on the right day, you’ll find a sandwich special called The Gobbler: fresh roasted turkey with stuffing, creamed spinach, Muenster, and cranberry mayo. This sandwich wasn’t ready for its close-up—the bread was kind of soaked, the whole thing holding together by a prayer—but if I had to choose a substitute for Thanksgiving dinner, this might be it.
Let’s swing by gourmet shop June & Ho (Rye), which posts a list of sandwich specials on the door daily. What’ll it be: House-smoked salmon on seven-grain bread with cream cheese, capers, and a thin slice of Bermuda onion? And we’ll check in at Melt Sandwich Shop (White Plains), perhaps the county’s best bid for sandwich glory. Choose a small or large roll or thick, charred flatbread to be piled with daily smokes and roasts in any of a dozen styles. The corned beef Reuben is not to be missed.
No need to eat too neatly. We’re among friends.
Sometimes a favorite mysteriously disappears. What happened to my favorite olive onion focaccia at Tarry Market, the Batali and Bastianich store near their restaurant in Port Chester (and whose bakery makes the bread for all of their restaurants)? “We haven’t made that one in quite a while,” they said, looking at me like I’d just stepped out of a time capsule. Still, there are others; the sausage and broccoli rabe is a contender. At Blue Hill Café, the takeout place next to the famous Dan Barber restaurant, the focaccia is worth getting almost regardless of what’s on top—but if they have the tuna salad, grab it. Get two, actually, to save yourself the time you will spend waiting on that line again.
You may also find true goodness where you expected the ordinary. At Sage Deli (Mamaroneck), order a wedge with their own homemade roast beef, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, and Russian dressing—make that extra Russian dressing—to be eaten (shared, if you can bear it) sitting on a bench, under a tree.