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The New York Times

From the Smallest State, the Biggest Sandwich

I’ve known great sandwiches. I used to thrill to the cheese steaks they served at Buzzy’s in Boston, next to the Charles Street Jail. They wept with fat and flavor, an amalgam of bread and cheese and salty meat. I still marvel at the hot pastrami on rye at Langer’s in Los Angeles, which Nora Ephron called the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world. I’ve devoured heroes at Lioni in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: capicola, prosciutto, olive loaf, fresh mozzarella, chopped tomatoes, a little drizzle of balsamic. That’s “a well-trained hero,” according to the restaurant’s menu. The owners call it the Angelo Dundee. I love a Nicky Special at Defonte’s in Red Hook, heavy on the fried eggplant, extra hot salad on top. Also a porchetta sandwich at Salumi, in Seattle, and a roast beef po’ boy at Parkway in New Orleans. New Jersey sloppy joes! Iowa tenderloins! Pit beef on a hard roll! Fried grouper on a soft one! All my friends.

These sandwiches are mostly, as Ephron once wrote of pastrami, “not something anyone’s mother whips up and serves at home.” I’ve tried to make the porchetta from Salumi, for instance, and put myself in the position of an amateur lead guitarist in a White Stripes cover band that doesn’t get a second gig. But there are times when you can try, and be rewarded, if only you choose the right target.

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