"I'm calling this sandwich the Hellfire. The next time you come in here, you tell me you want the Hellfire and I'll make it again for you." So said the woman behind the counter who made my custom hero and christened it with a name. This was my first visit to Sorriso Pork Store, an Italian deli in Astoria with a reputation for good sandwiches, great deli products, and some of the friendliest counter staff you'll find anywhere. It deserves that rep on all fronts.
Sorriso makes some products in-house, and if you're looking to sample them, the Hellfire is as good a way as any. The deli's homemade sopressata comes in several variations, including orange and fennel seed, red wine, and chili. All have a nice balance of pork and spice, but the spicy version brings in a little more fat, much to the sausage's benefit. Sorriso also makes their own mozzarella, which is more firm and salty than I'd like for eating solo, but it works nicely in their sandwiches.
If you want to order the Hellfire, it's a 50/50 mix of that spicy sopressata and peppery, fatty Genoa salami along with fresh mozz, pickled hot peppers, and a dash of red wine vinegar on a hero. Doing so will run you about eight bucks, and I recommend it with gusto.
There's also a nice Eggplant Parm Hero ($8) that's of the heavily breaded, lightly cheesed school of parmcraft. You get some eggplant flavor, but it's really all about that sweet tomato sauce soaking into the crust with a thin, stretchy slip of mozz underneath for good measure. Comically messy and simple but satisfying, it's one of the better eggplant parms in the neighborhood.
Sorriso is the kind of place that encourages loyalty. I asked the Irish woman who made my sandwiches how she came to work at an Italian deli. She answered, "I came here 30 years ago to make the mac and cheese, then I stayed." The next time I visit, they might not recall my face, but I'm sure they'll remember my sandwich order.
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