By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
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I have been wanting to do a “sandwich piece” for some time now, but deciding among three sandwiches is an impossible task. Sandwiches, I realize, is too large a category, so I needed to get more specific. Then it came to me: Italian sandwiches, my favorite go-to sandwich option. And why not experience three of the best Italian delis in town side by side-by-side: Belgiovine’s, Nicolo’s, and Rosario’s? To keep the comparison fair, I required mozzarella cheese on all sandwiches, and at least one sliced, cured meat per sandwich. Beyond those guidelines, it was a free-for-all, and after I was quite full, I realized it was an educational and delicious experience.
1. Belgiovine’s is a great value
The sandwich I chose was a wonderful combination of chicken cutlet, fresh mozzarella, prosciutto and roasted peppers. When the cutlet is freshly made, the cheese melts into it and the fat on the prosciutto is just a slight amount, the experience is a mouth-watering mixture of temperatures, flavors and textures. The acidity of the roasted peppers also cuts the fatty density of the meat and cheese. This sandwich was by far the most filling, but also an exceptional value for both the prosciutto and chicken cutlet.
2. Nicolo’s offers a special experience
At Nicolo’s Italian Bakery and Deli, I stuck with my “standard” Italian sandwich: prosciutto, fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers. I do not usually include vinegar. Sometimes I ask for olive oil. I find the vinegar tends to overpower the meat, roasted pepper and delicate mozzarella flavors. This sandwich is taken to an entirely new level by the quality of the bread, as it is baked fresh on site every day. The bread, plus an excellent ratio of cheese to meat to peppers to bread really made this sandwich a special experience.
3. Rosario’s “sweet meatiness.”
Last, but very much not least, comes “the Godfather” from Rosario’s Butcher Shop. It’s a mixture of prosciutto di parma, capicola, prosciutto cotto (Italian cooked ham) and accompanied by fresh mozzarella. This sandwich offers an intensity of flavor that isn’t reached by others. All three meats provide a different component to the sandwich: saltiness from the prosciutto, fattiness and spices from the capicola and a sweet meatiness from the cooked ham. All of these elements play a part in the texture and flavor of this sandwich.
I am a fan of any Italian sandwich and all three of these establishments provide fresh and delicious options for their customers. I suggest you go and try a variety. Please contact me and let me know what you discover!
In this article:
• Belgiovine’s Deli
714 Bloomfield Ave.
• Nicolo’s Italian Bakery and Deli
6 Baldwin St.
• Rosario’s Butcher Shop
252 Park St.