Willie told us about his philosophy of layering the meats, cheeses and condiments, carefully assembling them to achieve a perfect balance of elements. Choose between either the sweet or spicy sandwich; the sweet sandwich comes with sweet pickled red peppers and a milder provolone cheese whereas the spicy sandwich has chile-infused olive oil and a smoked provolone.
Graham Avenue Meats & Deli (Williamsburg): 445 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11211 (map); 718-389-9777
Sophia Loren at Lioni Heroes
The combination of the creamy mild mozzarella, sweet-salty prosciutto, and slightly spicy and vinegary pickled peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs was unbelievable. The textures and flavors melded perfectly, leaving you wanting to take a few more bites even after you are painfully full.
Italian at City Sub
Of all the sandwiches, I'm partial to the #20: capocollo, prosciuttini, and pepper jack cheese with oil, vinegar, and hot peppers. Not quite a classic Italian sub, but with the all the layers of heat—the peppery cheese, the spicy peppers—perhaps an even more exciting one.
City Sub: 450 Bergen Street, Brooklyn NY 11217 (map); 718-398-2592
Mortadella at Parisi Bakery
This meat-and-cheese combo—delicate, oh-so-slighty funky mortadella with sharp provolone, oil, and vinegar—proves that a few ingredients are all you need for a lively, improbably delicious sandwich. Lettuce and tomato are more cosmetic than essential.
Big Mike's Combo from Mike's Deli
A meat-on-meat hero with densely packed layers of mortadella, ham, salami, capicola, and provolone. My hero that day came with a thick slab of mozarella with bits of basil and tomato. The capicola, a dry-cured type of salumi, was especially good and appropriately fatty.