Italian Combo Sandwich at Rosario's Deli
It varies a bit depending on which counter guy makes it, but almost always includes mortadella, soppressata, cappicola, roasted red peppers, oil and vinegar, and some sort of cheese (usually provolone but sometimes fresh mozzarella). The balance among the ingredients is right on, each discernible, each complementing one another, the whole never straying into overloaded-sandwich territory. And the bread. Crisp exterior, chewy crumb.
Rosario's Deli: 2255 31st Street, Astoria, NY 11105 (map); 718-728-2920
The Pig and the Goat at the Bodega
The sandwich starts with two hunks of ciabatta, onto which go some sprouts as well as several slicks of prosciutto (the pig) and goat cheese (the goat). But what elevates this sandwich is the slick you can't see: a hefty layer of apricot jam. Its tart-sweetness countervails the salty ham and cool cheese, each bite a wicked pastiche of expectations way, way surpassed.
BLT at Butcher Bar
The pork is brined, sliced thick, and smoked to brown. More complex than your typical hunk of belly meat, each strip has crisp, smoky edges and a flavorful, creamy interior that rise above the fetishism of fat. The product, sandwiched into a hamburger bun with a slice of tomato and one thick iceberg leaf, layers farm-to-table virtues and decadent urges in a classic American form.
Classic Bánh Mí at Bánh Mí Zon
Our favorite bành mí in Manhattan, the classic at Bành Mí Zon has the archetypical bành mí baguette: ultra-crisp and crackly with a blistered surface and soft, tender crumb, full of ham and headcheese with a bright tasting pâté and a handful of sweet and savory chicken floss. The carrots and daikon are crisp and the cilantro and cucumber are nicely balanced.
Pierna Torta at De Mole in Astoria
A sandwich stuffed with thin slices of braised pork leg topped with a sweet chipotle sauce, pleasantly lard-y refried beans, avocado, stringy cheese, lettuce, and tomato. Though the pork is a little lean, its firm bite, generous porky flavor, and ample rub of complex chili sauce more than make up for its shortcomings. Avocado and refried beans add great creaminess, countered nicely by chewy cheese and crunchy iceberg.
De Mole: Multiple locations in Queens
Slow Roasted Pork at Rucola in Cobble Hill
The first bite is sublime: crisp, succulent pork is perfectly offset by the tangy sweet pickles, and the meeting of melted cheese, mayo, and pork juice makes for a brilliantly juicy bite that dribbles down your chin. The bread, a pillowy cousin of focaccia, is tender, supportive, and rich.
Italian Special at Faicco's Pork Store
It's not an unusual Italian combo in any way, but if you want a meal or two stuffed with meaty heft, then Faicco's is the place to go. When they ask if you want olive oil, say yes; it lubricates the whole experience, fusing meaty oils into every nook of the bread.
Faicco's Pork Store: 260 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10014 (map); 212-243-1974
Poblano Cemita at Cascabel Taqueria
This cemita's most valuable player is the reddish-orange pulled pork, which is tomatoey, garlicky (whole cloves? you bet), and well-spiced. Smashed avocado and champagne mango are tough to see through the pork, but they're present and worth the inclusion.
Spicy Capicola from Parisi Bakery
If you've been let down by the muted heat of supposedly "spicy" salumi elsewhere, give the Spicy Capicola at Parisi Bakery a try. The capicola is liberally rubbed with bright ground chili and piled high on a fresh Parisi hero roll. The heat will sneak up on you, but it's a great, bright burn; it's the punchy counterpoint to the buttery, almost provolone-like tangy fat of the meat.
Pernil with a Twist at Sophie's Cuban
The Pernil With a Twist has chunks of roast pork—the kind you want to pick out, pull apart, and relish separately. Deeper in, among the onion slivers and jalapeno-green sauce, there are homey fried lumps of sweet plantain, golden nuggets that cry mine me, mine me! Too soon, you've tapped the well dry—fingers reaching into the hollows of the bun, searching for another chunk that isn't there.
Sophie's Cuban: Multiple locations throughout New York; sophie'scuban.com
Pork and Cabbage Pancake at Tasty Dumpling
Tasty Dumpling's rich pork filling is one of our favorite dumpling stuffers in Chinatown, and the cabbage offers a mellow vegetal backbone and mild sweetness to this bun/sandwicj. Those juices saturate the slightly dry bun and then some; bite carefully, and watch for spurts of pork.
Tasty Dumpling: 54 Mulberry Street, New York, NY 10013 (map); 212-349-0070
Jack's Club at Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta
A sizable sandwich of sweet coppa, sweet soppressata, smoked mozzarella, and sundried tomato. The chewy, salty meats, sliced paper-thin, bring smoke and spice together in one bite. Excellent smoked mozzarella adds a creamy flavor and texture, nicely balanced by the bright sweetness of the tomatoes. Also welcome is the healthy pour of Italian vinaigrette (good quality olive oil and balsamic) which soaks into the porous, crackly-crusted roll.
Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta: 344 East 11th Street, New York, NY 10003 (map); 212-254-7452
Prosciutto Cotto, Mortadella and Provolone at DiPalo Selects
The sandwich contains thinly sliced prosciutto cotto, mortadella, and and a thin slice of provolone cheese stuffed inside pizza bianca. The meat is delicate, flavorful, and perfectly salty, balanced by creamy, tangy cheese and oil-rich bread.
Prosciutto and Jam at Ground Support
The Prosciutto Sandwich at Ground Support sets itself apart from the usual with a bold smear of strawberry-rhubarb jam from Beth's Farm. There's just enough jam to make you pause over that unexpected suggestion of fruit, and it works quite well. Above go ribbons of thinly cut prosciutto di Parma, a buttery, pungent taleggio slightly oozing out the edges, and fresh basil with baby arugula.
Ground Support: 399 West Broadway, New York, NY 10012 (map); 212-219-8722
BLT at TasteBuds
The bacon here is chewy-crisp and smoky, with ripe summer tomatoes and crisp fresh lettuce. Sourdough bread, admittedly cut a bit too thick, comes slathered with smoked paprika mayonnaise from Empire Mayonnaise, an excellent addition to the warm and already smoky bacon.
TasteBuds: 736 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn, 11238 (map); 347-435-0076
Macho Man or Woman at Court Street Grocers
This pulled pork sandwich comes with mild cheddar, awesomely pickle-y coleslaw and jalapeno, and just a touch of sweet "duck sauce." The savory garlic bread becomes a total sog fest, but it's worth the mess. Why can't all pulled pork be this juicy?
Pan Con Lechon at Coppelia
A layer of shredded roasted pork is topped by crackling pieces of chicharrón, adding crunch and a second dose of pork. The fatty roasted meat gets a kick with the second bite from the garlicky mojo sauce. and pieces of pickled onion impart an acidic tang.
Los Muchachos at Caracas Arepa Bar
It's a little pricier than the arepas at this East Village favorite, but totally worth it for the double header of meaty grilled chorizo and salty, chewy fried white cheese. Sautéed peppers and jalapenos add sweetness and some juice to all this heft; this isn't a greasy, overwhelming sandwich, but it is a very satisfying one. This chorizo isn't like the loose Mexican or preserved Spanish types you may have had; it's finely ground and a little mild, but picks up charred grilled flavors beautifully.
Caracas Arepa Bar: Multiple Locations caracasarepabar.com
BBQ Pulled Pork Panino from Indian Road Cafe
The BBQ Pulled Pork Panino from Indian Road Cafe in Inwood oozes with apple-chipotle barbecue sauce, but doesn't drench the meat; although the sauce is very faintly spicy, it's the sweetness of the pulled pork that has us getting this sandwich over and over again. The ciabatta bread has a crunch when bitten into; the pork is always tender and juicy, and is nicely accented by the melted fontina cheese. It's a sandwich that is meant to be savored.
Soppressata and Mozzarella at Paneantico
The sandwich's ample meat and the peppery crunch of the arugula are nicely mellowed by the smoked mozz, softer than many cheeses of this type, with a creamy-sweet tone to balance the smoke. It's all better with a shake or two of olive oil, which the place seems to know—they leave a oil-vinegar caddy on the table. The pork is awesome, but anything would taste great on their sturdy-crusted brick oven hero bread.
Paneantico: 9124 3rd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (map); 718-680-2347
Cubano at the Morningside Heights Havana Central
Thinly sliced but thickly stacked ham, well-melted Swiss cheese, a smear of mustard, plenty of sharp pickles, and really great juicy roast pork come together inside a grilled Cuban roll, pressed down firmly until everything is compacted and easily bite-able.
Pork Bracciole from Zito's Sandwich Shoppe
The innards here are a butterflied loin of pork (from the West Village's Faicco's Pork Store) that's lightly stuffed with provolone, garlic, parsley, and a sparing hand of bread crumbs to bind it all stuffing together. It's the pork that makes the sandwich, of course, and it's delicious, falling apart on first bite, quite lean but not tough in the slightest. The whole thing is smothered with a straightforward tomato sauce, just enough to moisten the bread (though we suspect pork drippings help with that, too), and a bit of Parmesan lends a salty bite. Altogether, it's sloppy and satisfying in a well-composed way—just, we'd guess, what they're going for.
Praga Completo from Via Quadronno
Neatly packed in a slender loaf of house-baked bread, thin layers of ham are mild and not too salty, complemented by the fruity and nutty Fontina. If that weren't enough cheese, melted brie oozes out softly. Smeared on both slices of the bread, the house duck pâté enriches the sandwich even further. It's rich but enticing, no matter what the summer weather.
Cubano at The Spotted Pig
Bread, pig, pickle, cheese: the resemblance of April Bloomfield's Cubano sandwich to any other Cuban stops right there. For one? It's $18. For another, it's made with prosciutto and Gruyere, not ham and Swiss. But it's one of the best sandwiches we've ever had: a crunchy ciabatta from Balthazar, funky Gruyere, spicy-sweet pickled jalapeño, and the pork—a confit of Heritage pork shoulder, first brined for five days, and then cooked in duck and pork fat. It's so tasty it's almost a shame to make a sandwich out of. (Almost.)
Gyro at BZ Grill
Likely the best gyro in the city, BZ Grill's pork gyros are made from actual cuts of marinated pork—not one of those rotating logs of mystery meat. In truth, it might actually be stretching it to call this thing a sandwich, since you may need a fork to make a dent in the gyro meat before you can pick it up. But it's so good we don't care.