Catene Deli is a fortress-like old-school Italian-American deli, immune to the creeping Tea-Lounge-ification of Park Slope.
The place has been owned and operated by the same family since 1965, and its fried squid hero zested with hot sauce won it Sietsema’s affection and his “best humble hero” designation in 2002. Eight years later, Catene’s is still turning out gigantic, tasty heros at low prices.
The eggplant parmesan hero costs $6.50, but falls squarely into the Incredibly Cheap Eats designation because it is the size and weight of a slightly premature infant.
To make the gargantuan sandwich, the mustachioed man behind the counter grabs a foot-long soft roll, smears both sides with his simple marinara sauce, cuts an impressive slab from the baking pan filled with eggplant parmesan, and somehow maneuvers it into the roll–a minor miracle. By the time you unwrap the hero, the eggplant has condensed and molded itself to the cylindrical shape of the bread, which has sopped up that sauce, leaving it soft, chewy, and almost (but not quite!) disintegrating. It’s an Italian-American red-sauce wonder.
237 9th Street, Brooklyn