When I was growing up in Jersey, it was common knowledge that Vito’s made the best sandwiches. Which brings me to Vito’s. Vito’s Meat Market was our neighborhood butcher shop in the ’80s. Mom went there for beef or lamb or chicken, but from 11-2, Vito made the best sandwich in the city: Tricio Brother’s bread, soft and flavorful; Boar’s Head meats, all but the beef. The beef he would roast himself, slowly, with a big cap of fatback trussed around the outside and tucked over herbs, brought to a pink, succulent medium rare. “Just” a roast beef sandwich, but piled so high with perfectly cooked and seasoned meat shaved transparently thin.
That’s the key to a really good deli sandwich: meat sliced so thin you could hold it to a window and take a peek at the neighbors. Vito’s has been pulling on my memories for years — Mom unwrapping butchers’ paper to fill the house with warmth and happiness, me scooting up the road for a sandwich with ribbons of meat that just… satisfied.
That bread — a cross between a hoagie roll and a baguette — airy with a hint of a crust. That bread tastes like Hoboken to me, soft and slightly sweet, toothsome and substantive.
Will my deli sandwiches taste like Vito’s? Unlikely. Impossible, even. If my neighbors come in to Salt & Grinder, if their kids can sit down with just a simple turkey and American cheese (yellow) and mayo (the real stuff), if they can do that, over laughter even, and leave satisfied, well, then, then I’ve come home.