If The Deli in Herndon were to fall victim to a Pompeii-like disaster, freezing its contents in time, future anthropologists would think that our society subsisted almost entirely on potato chips. Bags and bags in every size are piled on shelves, on the counter, even behind the counter. There are specimens from prolific Utz, but also lesser-known imprints like Route 11. There are sodas too, lots of them, provided to mitigate the salt with some well-earned sugar.
But while chips are well and good, those future anthropologists would be missing out on a whole menu of damn fine Italian subs. And that was my goal when I paid a visit to the link in the small local chain.
You see, I just moved from a state where ham and cheese, maybe salami with some provolone, is the best you’ll find when on the hunt for an Italian sub. I searched for four years with little satisfaction. But once I moved here, the quest began in earnest. I knew that I would find some good salami stacked on an appropriate roll. But where would I find the best?
That still may remain to be seen, but the Mad Italian at The Deli is a contender. I selected the sandwich piled with the most different meats, of course, and maintain that I was correct to do so. My only quibble is that the mortadella was the one touching the bun, meaning it was the dominant flavor. I would have preferred the tang of salami to be my primary taste, but this is a minor complaint when your mouth is wrapped around both those cures, as well as capicola and spicy, deep red pepperoni, enhanced by a garden’s worth of vegetables, including a full-length pickle spear.
I ordered the smaller, 8-inch sub, which was still big enough to provide me with lunch the next day. Pro tip: Let the whole sandwich marinate for a day. By day two, the oil and vinegar had worked its way into the sub’s crevices in an ideal fashion, amping up the acid of the pepperoncini and moistening the shower of dried oregano. The crusty roll even withstood its overnight stay in the fridge, retaining its pleasant chew on day two.
My quest for the perfect Italian sub isn’t done yet. It may never be, but I’ll have a delicious journey.
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