One of the things that I’ve been learning about Northern Virginia: Some of the best food lies in office parks. One excellent example: Pica Deli in Reston, surrounded on every side by doctor’s offices. The unprepossessing spot is not much more than a counter and some drink cases. There are a few tables, but most people take their sandwiches to go. And they’ve been doing it since 1987.
This year, Tyler Pica (yes, it’s the family name, pronounced PEE-ka, not an unfortunate reference to a craving for soil or clay) took over the business from his father. A self-described “huge foodie,” he’s kept the menu more or less the same, but refined the sandwiches with different ingredients where he deemed it necessary. The result? One of the best Italian subs around.
It’s called the Caesar Augustus, and if Italian subs had existed in 63 BC, I’m sure they would have been a favorite of the first Roman emperor. The chewy bread comes from Lyon Bakery in Maryland. The meats? Mostly Boar’s Head, with the exception of the Genoa salami, which comes from Fiorucci. Pica says that he wasn’t a fan of the Boar’s Head salami and this swap is key. The tangy, salty meat he chose makes the sandwich. There’s also capicola and pepperoni, and it’s the latter which fuses brilliantly with the crushed cherry peppers for a swat of heat that isn’t always a part of Italian subs, but certainly isn’t unwelcome. The peppers also contribute an acidity that ideally blends with the cured meats and with the generous dousing of red wine vinegar.
I’m still on my quest for the very best Italian sub in NoVA, but there’s no doubt, the Caesar Augustus is a serious contender. // 11864 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston
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