Capriotti’s Sandwich Shops

The submarine sandwich is a tried and true formula for a good, filling meal.  For a century, Americans have enjoyed their hoagies, grinders, heroes, or whatever else you want to call an Italian style sandwich.  I don’t claim to be any kind of expert, but Capriotti’s has found themselves a winning formula when it comes to unique recipes for the good ol’ sub.

The first Capriotti’s location opened in Wilmington, Delaware in 1976.   Named for their grandfather, siblings Lois and Alan Margolet opened their sub shop intending to cater to “real turkey lovers.”  To do this, they set up shop roasting whole fresh turkeys overnight.  It was a winning formula, and their popularity quickly grew, especially after their cousin opened another Capriotti’s store.  Thirty years later, they have 106 locations across the country, and several signature subs that are unlike anything you can get elsewhere.

I often talk about the difference that quality ingredients make, and Capriotti’s Subs always pass the test.  Lois’ original commitment was to fresh, quality ingredients, and the brand has not lost that over the years.  Normally, I get the sandwich known as The Bobbie: turkey (for turkey lovers), stuffing, cranberry sauce, and mayo.  It may sound busy or unappealing, but Thanksgiving on a Bun has won numerous awards, all of which it deserved.

This week, I went for something a little different and ordered a medium Slaw Be Joe.  Diverting from the turkey upon which the shop built its foundation, this sandwich consists of a hoagie roll stuffed with slow cooked roast beef, provolone cheese, Russian dressing, coleslaw, and mayo.  If you’ve never eaten a sandwich with coleslaw on it, you’re missing out.  Now, I know what you’re probably saying (or thinking), and I didn’t like coleslaw either until I had it on a Primanti Brothers’ sandwich.  Then I had it again on a Memphis Barbecue pulled pork sandwich, and I’ve never looked back.  I still don’t prefer it on its own, but the crunch and creaminess that a little cabbage salad can add will elevate a sandwich to heights beyond your wildest dreams.  If you do like coleslaw, you’re in luck; it’s good slaw.  The same care that goes into their turkey they put into their roast beef, which is added to the sandwich at room temperature.  This might sound like a poor choice, but the Slaw Be Joe is unashamed to be a cold sub, and after a few bites, you’ll be singing its praises too.  Russian dressing compliments the roast beef splendidly, the crunch from the slaw balances out the chewier beef, and the provolone at the center of it all adds an incredible creamy core to the whole ensemble, complimented by the dressing on the slaw.  Capriottis’ bread is as fresh as their turkey, and despite my preference against the submarine style of sandwich, it was so soft I wasn’t slowed down one bit.

The other place that Capriotti’s sets itself apart is in their sizing.  My Slaw Be Joe was a medium (12″), and I could only eat half of it in the store.  I’ll devour a twelve inch Subway sub without thinking twice about it, but Capriotti’s stopped me in my tracks.  It was so good I wanted to, but I just couldn’t take another bite.  Luckily, the employees were kind enough to wrap the second half of my sub up to go.  The next size up, the large, is a whopping twenty inches long, and is stuffed just as full as the other two sizes.  My favorite family feasts have always consisted of seven or more people sharing three or four large Capriotti’s subs—and dividing up the leftovers after we’ve all had our fill.

The other half of my Slaw Be Joe didn’t go to waste, by the way.  It became my midnight snack that night.  With no ceremony (or preparation on my part), I pulled it out of the refrigerator and dug in.  Despite being an even temperature throughout and no longer fresh, it hadn’t lost any of the magnificent flavor or textural diversity that made it such a joy when it was new.  I devoured the entire other half of that sub without a second thought, except to wonder when next I’d be getting a Capriotti’s sub.

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