The innards of the shrimp-pork sausage submarine — sandwiches don’t get moister than this.
There’s an unspoken rivalry between places that offer doctrinaire versions of dishes and those that choose to be wildly innovative. Is it a better business model to give the public exactly what they’re used to and love, or to take the trouble to convince them that something better might exist? In the demimonde of submarine sandwiches (a/k/a heroes, hoagies, grinders, po’boys), most places toe the line with a roster that has been familiar at least since the 1920s, including Italian-American cold cuts, meatball Parmesan, sausage and peppers, Brooklyn roast beef, eggs and potatoes, etc. (We’ll forget for a moment that a chain called Submarine ever existed.)
The shrimp-pork sausage hero was almost too big to fit in the camera’s frame.
Newly opened No. 7 Sub in Greenpoint is the second offspring of a well-regarded Fort Greene bistro, and younger sister of a hero shop in Manhattan’s Wholesale District along Broadway in the West 20s. Both places choose innovation over conventionalism; indeed, you almost can’t find a familiar filling on either of the menus.
Those who know the narrow and spare original No. 7 Sub will get bug-eyed looking at the new one. It occupies a broad storefront near the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Kent Street in the heart of Polish Greenpoint — indeed, one of Fork in the Road’s favorite Eastern European greasy spoons, Happy End, is right across the street. The place is also conveniently located one block from the G stop (I first typed “G spot,” yikes!) at Greenpoint Avenue.
Inside, find broad vistas of black-lacquered wood, plenty of seating, including a prize booth right in the front window, and a bar on the right (with full cocktail empowerment), which is where you place your order. The sandwiches are prepared far away at the end of the room, and will be delivered to your table when ready. The new kitchen has certain capabilities that its predecessor lacked, including, in addition to more room, the abilities to grill and deep-fry. This is a boon to the menu of the new place.
The premises of the new branch are large and commodious.
The roast cauliflower sub, in cross section
A friend and I tried three subs. My favorite was the one made with (presumably homemade) shrimp-pork sausage. What a great sausage! It had been grilled and mixed with peppers and onions, making it a species of a sausage-and-peppers hero, except the thing has been knocked in another direction with shishito peppers, a grape jelly sauce that reads like mayonnaise, and fresh cilantro. It’s a firestorm of flavors, but they meld together seamlessly. The best part of the sandwich is its natural gloppiness, and you won’t have to drink a sip of water as you wolf it.
The roast cauliflower hero (all sandwiches come on a demi-baguette of good length, and you can share one with someone else if you’re not famished) arrives with a smoky, French-style dressing (we’re talking Kraft here, not Paris) and potato chips on the side, which one, I suppose, is invited to put in the sandwich. My companion dipped her half in the dressing; I chose to eat mine plain because the cauliflower was sweet and oniony. I think it was one of the best non-meat heroes I’ve ever eaten.
The third hero I was not as happy with — corned beef brisket. It comes topped with Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and a “special sauce,” which is all to the good. It seems like a wacked-out Reuben. Unfortunately, the corned beef is delivered cold. When anyone hears the words “corned beef sandwich,” it makes you think of hot corned beef being pulled out of the steam at Katz’s, so this sandwich is frustrating due to its lack of warm oily ooze.
The menu posted on the wall with cards details seven more sandwiches, and some of them sound pretty good — in particular, Mongolian tofu and liverwurst. The Greenpoint location is clearly trying to distinguish itself from its Manhattan relation. And when you have a menu of subs going off in all sorts of directions, as this one does, you’re bound to fall in love with one or two of the sandwiches, at least.
The corned beef sub was only slightly disappointing.
The menu’s printed on placards.
No. 7 Sub
931 Manhattan Avenue