March 8th, 2013 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (3)
It’s a quintessential American dish, a rich hearty meal packed between two halves of a soft chewy baguette, but in Tulsa you could never find it done right. Until now. Perhaps it’s a Yankee thing. Drive through any burg between Baltimore and Maine, head for the gritty part of town, and you’ll see a little mom and pop place with a big crowd of hungry diners. It comes under many names. Where I grew up, it was a hero. Head east to the Connecticut coast and it’s a grinder. Go south to Philly and it’s a hoagie. Over in Brooklyn, they usually call it a sub. In the forgotten backstreets of some south Brooklyn Italian neighborhoods, there are 100 year old sub shops run by the great-grandchildren of the original owners. They make their own sausages, and every day they make their own fresh mozzarella. Jay Cundy here in Tulsa doesn’t have the labor force to do that but he has great respect for those who do. “Oh, you mean the old country,” he says when I mention Brooklyn. Jay was raised in Florida but his family roots stretch back to Philadelphia. He has relatives there who sell hoagies.
Step up to the tiny shop right off 91st Street and you can pretend you’re in New England.
Just place your order and Jay goes to work. He grabs a baguette, baked fresh that morning, and slices it.
Carefully he layers on the toppings. First the meat, then the toppings, finally a layer of juicy tomato slices. Then he sprinkles on oregano and pepper.
Last, a drizzle of oil and vinegar, and then it’s ready.
Here’s what I got. The “Italian Special”. ($8). You can get a half-sandwich for $5. Unless you’re starving, that’s plenty big. But I went with the whole. The Italian Special features ham, Genoa salami, capicola (a salami made from pork shoulder) and provolone cheese. There are a lot of toppings available, and I requested just about all of them: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, pickles, black olives. “You must try the sweet peppers too,” said Jay. “I get them from Philly.” So I did and they were wonderful. I also discussed whether I should get some mayonnaise along with the traditional oil and vinegar. Jay thought it was a good idea. I got it. It was.
One bite and I was hooked. I couldn’t judge the quality of the meat, it was drowned out by the toppings. But it all worked out fine. The bread was the star. Soft enough to bite into, chewy enough not to just melt away. All the toppings had great flavor, especially the sweet green peppers. It was a great sandwich.
Betty got the Monster ($9), with ham, cheese, roast beef and turkey. I managed to photograph half of it.
The other half was gone. And Cathe got chicken salad ($8).
You can’t see it in the photo but under the tomato is a flavorful creamy chicken salad which Jay makes from an old family recipe.
I planned to take half the sandwich home but it was so good I ate just about all of it.
Jay’s Original Hoagies
8988 S Sheridan (in Chimney Pointe center)
Open Monday through Saturday 10:30 AM to 7 PM (I think they close early on Saturday)
Brian Schwartz: Author
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.