The Hungover Gourmet

 

Restaurant ReviewsPastore's
8442 Philadelphia Road
Baltimore, MD 21237
410-686-1884

Having grown up in South Jersey and lived/attended school in Philly for many years, I consider myself a pretty good judge of a hoagie. And nothing stirs my soul quite like a really good Italian cold cut hoagie. The right blend of meat, cheese, mayo, vinegar and peppers is like a culinary explosion that just can't be beat.

Now that I live near Baltimore, I haven't quite found an Italian hoagie that matches those found in the Italian delis near my boyhood stomping grounds. In fact, the closest I've come to a sub to die for was in Florida (of all places). The Italian sub at Prudente's Italian Deli and Eatery [4925 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs, FL / 239-992-9477] is the best I've had in some time. Then again, the family that runs Prudente's relocated to Florida from North Jersey/New York, so they know their way around a sub.

Their Italian Supreme -- packed with cold cuts and provolone and topped with a vinegar and oily Italian Salad -- was a true find during our last trip to the Sunshine State.

So, when a client mentioned an Italian deli here in Baltimore as a lunch option after a late morning meeting I was definitely intrigued. As we walked through the door of Pastore's I knew that the memory of that Prudente's sub might be in for some competition. The complex, layered smells that are evident in the best Italian delis were immediately at play here... meaty, cheesy, saucy and spicy aromas all danced around my head.

As we stepped to the counter my client laid down a culinary gauntlet I wasn't quite expecting. I casually mentioned that I had a thing for Italian cold cut subs and he replied, "Then you should try theirs. Might just be the best sub I've had anywhere. Ever."
I was floored. Was it possible that Baltimore's uber hoagie had been a short drive away all this time? I ordered up their signature sub, The Pastore, and waited, ever so patiently.

I'm pleased to report that it was well worth the wait. The Pastore features a soft, chewy 10" or so roll, the kind you normally find up in the Delaware Valley. The insides are packed with Genoa Salami, Capicollo, Prosciuttini, Mortadella, and Provolone with olive oil, wine vinegar, lettuce, tomatoes, mayo, and hot peppers with onions also available. What sets the Pastore apart and puts it into another level apart from the usual Italian sub is the addition of two olives -- one on each half of the sandwich -- and a delicate dusting of a grated cheese blend that mixes with the mayo and oil to create a cheese-tastically creamy sauce that I wanted to put on everything for the next 36 hours.

So, is it the best hoagie ever? Right now I'm having a hard time conjuring up an Italian cold cut hoagie I've had anywhere at anytime that can beat it. But that don't mean I won't keep trying.

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