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.
The Italian Food Center on Grand Street was one of Little Italy's few remaining old lions, a no-frills deli that served the neighborhood for half a century until its shuttering a couple years ago.
A new business has taken its place, replete with faux-aged typography and an industrial look that's more Rent: The Musical than Rent: The Tenement. But the sandwich/pizza shop and restaurant has retained the Italian Food Center's name, and it's undoubtedly after the tourist crowds that flood Little Italy's streets for half the year.
I was skeptical that I'd find anything good at this Epcot booth of a restaurant, but I'll admit: if you're looking for a good bite in the neighborhood, this place does nicely. Take the Turkey Melt ($9.75), a slender but well-constructed hot sandwich of thinly sliced turkey, mild cheese, and surprisingly bold pepper relish. The hot sandwiches here are pressed but not smushed like over-eager panini, and the turkey itself is moist, not overcooked. I mean it about that pepper relish—it's bold enough to sting.
The sandwiches we've tried from Italian Food Center are about as filling as Parm's for a few bucks less. Definitely not the cheapest Italian lunch in the neighborhood, but one of the better ones.