1/31/2013 05:01:00 PM

Sandwich Smackdown: How Do Chicago’s Italian Subs Stack Up?

Italian sub at Pastoral
J.P. Graziano is one of the most old-school Italian shops in Chicago, the joint has distributed high quality ingredients in the West Loop since 1937. They only starting making subs about five years ago, but their practice is clearly steeped in tradition. According to Jim Graziano, fourth generation owner, what makes for the best Italian sub is the ingredient selection and details. “What’s always been drilled into my head is using the best, top-quality ingredients,” he said. In addition, Graziano slices the meat fresh to order for every sub (each meat on a different slicer number) and mixing the vinegar and oregano with the lettuce before putting it on the sandwich. Graziano says this is “putting a little extra love into it.” That’s some love you can taste.

It may all end up in the same place, but these details tap your taste buds and you immediately know the difference. The worst thing he thinks someone can do in making a sub? Cut the meat too thick or throw the ingredients on haphazardly. Those layers of thinly sliced, high-quality meat really do make the sandwich. If we wanted a thick chunk of meat, we’d go with another one of the bevvy of meaty sandwich options in Chicago. This commitment to consistency and making everything as fresh as possible are tenets we can get behind. Other delis in Chicago hold up to these practices in varying degrees. Take at look at how the Italian offering from some Windy City sub shops (including the famous Graziano) stack up  in the slideshow below.