Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Artisanal Meat, Veggie Sandwiches

When a restaurant touts the origins of its meat, form four local butchers and specialty shops, I figure the vegetarian food is going to be an after thought. But Zito's Sandwich Shoppe in Park Slope, Brooklyn, puts as much care into its veggie sandwiches as it does in its meat offering, so this is definitely a vegetarian friendly place.

Of the 13 classic sandwiches, 5 are vegetarian (3 if you don’t eat fish). Plus you can create your own. All are served on brick oven bread baked by Il Fornaretto in Bensonhurst, or gluten-free bread from Everybody Eats in Park Slope.

The meatless was my first choice, with plenty of grilled portobellos roasted peppers and broccoli rabe, with artichoke spread. My only gripe was that it was too cold, so if you can let your sandwich sit for awhile, or ask the counter guys to heat it up.

But this brings up the problem many have with this place. The food is wonderful, but waits can be interminable. If you order arancini, Sicilian rice balls (there is an addictive veggie version, with spinach and homemade mozzarella) and sip a craft beer, you might be a little less puckish when your food arrives.

Sandwiches are huge, and make a more than filling dinner; at lunch, you might only eat half and save the rest for later. You could also split a sandwich and get one of the 6 veggie side dishes: faro salad with roasted corn, garlicky broccoli rabe or lentil with caramelized onions.

The eggplant parm, with more of that homemade mozzarella and a slightly too salty tomato sauce was a perfect counterpoint to the crusty bread. If you like breakfast for dinner, try the bargain Potatoes & eggs sandwich; scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, onions and parmesan cheese, with tomato sauce on the side.

The chickpea fritters were so meaty that my husband was convinced he had been given meat. These fritters are not like falafel at all, but with the lettuce, tomato and lemon, they were yummy.

Next on my list to try, before I start customizing my sandwiches, is the Sicilian tuna, with arugula and tapenade.

We were not bothered by our long waits, since the guys working there were so friendly and they have a great sense of humor. A family friendly place that promotes its high chairs and growlers has to be. Fill those growlers with Sixpoint craft ale to go, or drink a beer with your sandwich. There is also wines from Long Island based Gotham Project.

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