In this great city of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around New York. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
I can count on one hand—if that—the number of times I've had a still-crisp eggplant parm on a hero. But that's fine by me so long as we adjust our expectations for a successful sandwich. If you like the idea of breaded eggplant spread with sweet tomato and milky mozzarella, the version at Rosario's deli in Astoria ($6.50 on a hero, $5.50 on a roll) is probably up your alley.
It's subtly seasoned, but I wouldn't call it bland. The eggplant's cooked to baba ganoush-like softness, and it's further moistened by Rosario's sweet tomato sauce. That sauce is similar to what goes on their pizza, more sweet (but not sugary) than savory, clean without dried herb distractions. Rosario's fresh mozzarella isn't my favorite for eating out of hand—it's salty and superbly milky, but a bit tough—though it melts well on the hero, concentrating its sweetness without weeping out onto the eggplant. Consider asking the friendly sandwich folks for an extra helping.
There are many Italian bakeries in Astoria, but Astoria Bakery may make my favorite semolina hero bread in the 'hood. It's light and airy, aromatic with sesame seeds, and it comes to nubby points at the ends that tastes like the best toasted croutons. It's the perfect cradle for Rosario's well-constructed deli sandwiches.