Pete Entner Rocks Boerum Hill with Boomwich
Photos by Zachary Feldman for the Village Voice
After making Crown Heights a destination for gonzo pizza with his eponymous PeteZaaz pie parlor (which will soon return from the dead following Entner's recent buyout of his former partners), Pete Entner set his sights on applying a similar framework to sandwiches. The erstwhile No. 7 sous chef and pizzaiolo has taken his adventurous flavor combinations and transported them to a modern Boerum Hill sub shop called Boomwich (311 Atlantic Avenue, 718-643-9229). And while the concept undoubtedly hangs around in the same bread/filling Venn diagram circles as No. 7 Sub Shop, if you're looking for a circa-2009 Bobby Flay-less food world throwdown, keep moving. A month into Boomwich's existence, the world of bread-hugged meats and vegetables has proven it can support multiple creative sandwich operations.
Do you hate pretzel bread? You're shit out of luck. It's the only bread on offer here, and, luckily, a winner. Browned and burnished on the outside, its pillowy rich crumb cradles inventive fillings, some of which have become Entner signatures, like cold fried chicken layered with curried squash, fontina cheese, collard greens, and pickled chiles. The same flavors found themselves together at PeteZaaz, and what is pizza but a giant open-faced sandwich? Simpler and yet no worse for it, a turkey club masquerades as the T.B.L.T., bombarding November's honorary fowl with bacon, avocado, and smoked mayonnaise. It's a worthy contender for the city's best turkey sandwich next to Parm's lauded offering.
The heaviest of the lot are the kitchen's takes on a cubano, a pastrami deli sandwich, and a cheesesteak. Shreds of pork shoulder get their sweetness from braising in Dr. Pepper, and sharp provolone cheese stands up to the heartier flavors better than traditional Swiss. Chili con carne comes with a house-made burrata against ancho-chile-spiked mole and corn chip gremolata. Between sweet and savory, spice and sour, and even crunch, Entner's attention to detail yields supremely satisfying results. That pastrami sandwich gets a kick from spicy Chinese mustard, and the cheesesteak deftly balances pineapple, shallots, jalapeños, and hot Cheetos.
Vegetarians won't be disappointed, either. Roasted portobello mushrooms, fried brussels sprouts, and goat cheese play earthy counterparts against a vibrant red-pepper coulis. The sweet pepper shows up in the only other vegetable-based sandwich, a falafel riff that's aided by bitter arugula, cucumbers, pepper sauce, and lemon gelée. Although the abundance of red peppers is perhaps not ideal just in terms of variety, neither sandwich pulls any punches in the flavor department.
A pot of soup bubbles away underneath a massive ceiling mural of the shop's name. On our visits, it was chicken noodle. It's joined by a trio of salads ($9 each) like vinegar-tossed roasted vegetables, or arugula with fried feta and candied lemon. There's even a kids menu, with grilled cheese, fried chicken, or macaroni and cheese. Side dishes, like bean salad, cole slaw, and two kinds of potato salad, are elevated deli fare. Don't miss the fingerling potatoes bound with paprika-rich mayonnaise and bacon.
As an entry into the high-minded, chef-run fast-casual market (hyphen fatigue, anyone?), Boomwich's $9 sub hoagie grinder sandwiches are worth seeking out whether you're a fan of Entner's work at PeteZaaz or a hungry luncher in downtown Brooklyn. In fact, Boomwich has easily affirmed itself as one of the best lunch options for Brooklyn jury duty.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to New York dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.