With an unexpected couple of days off from work following Hurricane Irene (not from flooding, but from old office building electrical issues apparently), I decided to take one day to wander around Astoria with PS, who also had the day off. There was no plan, but I suggested gigantic sandwiches and she suggested a nearby park in which to eat them.
I’ve heard of Sal, Kris and Charlie’s Deli through other blogs, and their ridiculously stuffed heros sounded like a great way to pack on calories. So we sought them out for research purposes.
They proudly proclaim they are the “Sandwich King of Astoria”, and why not? With dozens of tasty sandwiches to choose from, at ridiculous prices, you’d have a hard time leaving less than pleased. (Please excuse the drool on my camera lens.) There wasn’t a wait to order, though there is a steady stream of locals into the deli, all friends with the guys behind the counter. Just a completely friendly place.
We ordered one each of “The Bomb” and “The Italian”. These took several minutes to prepare, and, while the “normal” subs are $5 ($4 for a Kaiser-ish roll sandwich), these are $7.50. We pulled up a bench in Astoria Park, on the East River, to marvel at these gigantic sandwiches. We picked up a couple of sodas and received change from a twenty, all told.
This is The Italian, complete with hot peppers. The sandwich is listed on the board as containing “all of the Italian meats and cheeses”. It isn’t one slice of each, either: mortadella, salami, cappicola, provolone, pepperoni, ham, the standard tomato and shredded lettuce… there’s a lot of stuff in here.
It’s over a foot long. It’s several inches tall, and that isn’t all bread. It’s a seriously good Italian loaf, lightly dusted with sesame seeds, with a good crunch on the exterior (without piercing your upper palate) and pillowy-soft interior, not hollowed out in the slightest. This was a good thing, as the peppers, mustard, mayonnaise… etc… will need to be sopped up by something if you’re going to finish this off in one go. The Italian is a very, very good sandwich: it held together well. The flavors, well, I’d be lying if I said they were focused and clear, but every bite, something else dominated. Sometimes it was the cheese, which often tasted distinctly of Parmesan (or a similar hard cheese), sometimes the peppers, but usually the meats, especially the tasty salami.
Just to show, the peppers give the bread a tasty, spicy taste that, the longer you eat, the more pronounced it gets. The oil and vinegar doesn’t hurt, either.
Then there’s The Bomb, which consists of all the Italian meats and all the American meats, and cheeses, rolled into one giant hero. Same size as, perhaps thicker than, The Italian.
Yup – it’s the Italian plus a core of roast beef, turkey, American cheese, a form of jack cheese perhaps? I didn’t really stop to ponder my half of this sandwich before digging in. While I liked this sandwich, too, it was much tougher to eat — the increased quantities of meats and cheeses weren’t stacked in such a way (if there is one) to prevent constant slippage, so half my time spent on this sandwich was in reconstructing it after a bite. PS had much the same problem, too, so it was a unanimous vote: The Italian is the choice for discerning gluttons, over The Bomb. And there’s no shame in that.
If you bring your meal to Astoria park on a nice, sunny afternoon, you too can watch the Acela trains on the tracks on this bridge, which runs down Randalls Island before heading through Queens.
It’s no question that the choices at Sal, Kris & Charlie’s are worth the price. While I gorged and ate both my sandwich halves in one sitting, I could (and should) have stopped at half. PS certainly did. I’d bet that a third of a sandwich would be plenty for lunch for most people, in fact. The cold cuts are pretty standard deli meats — they don’t have access to astounding meats, just Boar’s Head quality, but that’s absolutely perfect for their application here. The deli is quite close to the N train, and if you can travel for lunch, I strongly suggest a visit to Astoria for a great multiple-meal hero.