That perfect day at the beach. When your chair is snug in the sand at the perfect angle so that you’re being covered in warm sun rays and you’re close enough to the water so that you can see your kids laughing and playing. You can finally exhale and enjoy your day off from work, deadlines and practices. You’ve remembered the sunscreen, cooler and even the change of clothes so you won’t have wet bathing suits on your new car seats. However, if you’re from New England you know that there is one more thing that makes a beach day complete. It’s not all about the the salty air or ice cold refreshments, but the Italian sandwiches. There’s something about those sour pickles, green peppers, American cheese and ham all on a fresh Italian roll that just really hit the spot on a summer afternoon. They carry nostalgia of your beach days as a child and continue to be a necessity with your family today.
As fellow New Englanders, we appreciate the sanctity of the Italian sandwich and understand its role in our culture. With over 10 locations in just Lewiston and Auburn, Maine that sell this summer staple, we decided that it was important for us to put them to the test. Menus In L/A contacted these local restaurants and asked them to a part of this Italian analysis, 9 agreed to participate. Amato’s, Heathco’s, Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, The Italian Bakery, Jami K’s, Luiggi’s, Sam’s, Bourque’s and Vespucci’s (<—click their names for more info about the restaurant!) were all involved in this Italian affair, however they were unaware as to when we would be purchasing the actual test sandwiches. The morning of our event, 10 local Italian sandwich admirers came together with hungry stomachs and no knowledge as to which locations were involved. Each sandwich was given a letter and the taste testers were asked to examine and taste the item and then rate it on various criteria. The criteria being: best taste, most Authentic Italian, most New England style Italian, best appearance, best bread, quality of ingredients, quantity of ham, quantity of cheese, quantity of vegetables, most easily recognized and overall best.
Many locals get their Italian sandwich from the same location for most of their lives, love at first bite some may say. Before starting, Bruce Bilodeau of Doggone Fun Doggy Daycare claimed “I’ll defi
nitely be able to tell which one’s the Italian I’ve been getting once a week for years!” Along with Bruce, many other taste testers admitted to being in these committed relationships. However they were shocked as to which sandwiches they truly liked best once we unveiled where each letter was from. The results may shock many of you as well.
Pictured below: Mayor Jonathan Labonte
examining one of the sandwiches
Best taste- Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli, Jami K’s & Luiggi’s
Most *authentic Italian– Heathco’s & Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Most New England style Italian– Italian Bakery & Luggi’s
Best appearance– Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli and Italian Bakery
Best bread– Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli and Luiggi’s
Quality of ingredients– Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Quantity of ham– Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Quantity of cheese– Heathco’s & Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Quantity of vegetables– Heathco’s and Italian Bakery
Most easily recognized: Amato’s and Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
Overall best- Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli
*Authentic italian: Italian bread loaded with a variety of freshly sliced Italian meats, provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato
Notable comments from our taste testers were that Amato’s had fresh vegetables, Heathco’s had lots of ham, Jami K’s had very fresh bread, Luiggi’s had quality bread and lots of pickles and that Vespucci’s had a good appearance. Mayor Jonathan Labonte upon seeing Luiggi’s sandwich exclaimed “I already like this one because it has tons of pickles!” Though the majority of participants agreed that Heidi’s Brooklyn Deli did not make a typical “New England-style Italian”, it was clear that their preference for their “just as good as it looks” sandwich stuffed with “delicious meats” and “full of flavor” made theirs the clear favorite. In contrast, Patti Gagne was a big fan of the Heathcos Italian that she sampled and even asked for another piece on her way out the door.
Whether you pair yours with Salt and Vinegar or BBQ chips, Root Beer or something a little stronger, deep down we are all the same when it comes to wanting a great Italian sandwich. Thank you to all of the restaurants and taste testers that participated in our event. We hope that all of you are able to try each of the locations that were involved and see how they rate up for yourself!
-Menus In L/A
For more Lewiston/Auburn area restaurants click here!
From left to right
Top row: Joanne Bergeron, Tyler Beck, Christian McCollough, Patti Gagne, Pam Vaillancourt
Bottom row: Bruce Bilodeau, Melodie Cyr, Huna Huna Tuna, Georgette D’Amour , Jonathan Labonte