Defonte's is one of those places for me. The legendary Brooklyn sandwich spot opened a Manhattan outpost near me and I have been a loyal patron ever since. The list of sandwiches is long but I always end up ordering one of two different ones. Cold Hero - The Nicky Special (italian meats, cheese, fried eggplant, hot salad, lettuce tomato, oil and vinegar). Hot Hero - Hot Roast Beef (roast beef, fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, natural jus). Classic Italian hero or their riff on the French Dip. Cant lose either way.
(***For full disclosure, I have tried the Italian Tuna, which my wife likes, and it is great)
I recently found out that Defonte's is also one of those spots for my friend Arthur Bovino. Arthur is the Executive Editor of The Daily Meal and he is a Hot Roast Beef guy as well. Since we are both well regarded food and dining experts (at least that is what we tell each other), we decided that it was high time we sampled something else from Defonte's menu. With each other as back up and support, we made out way to Defonte's to discover new sandwich delights. We tried two new sandwiches. One was a solid double and one was a home run and will definitely be added to my rotation.
This one is not on the menu but a daily special. It is on the specials board every time I am there so at this point it it a regular item. Since it first appeared I have almost ordered it numerous times. It is a roast pork sandwich like the kind mastered by Tony Luke's in Philly.
Defonte's version features roast pork, provolone cheese, fried eggplant (Defonte's signature) and broccoli rabe. It is a nice sandwich. The best touch is the cold broccoli rabe which give the sandwich bite and contrasts well with the warm pork. I wouldn't mind a mind a heavier dose of garlic on this sandwich, but it is solid nonetheless.
I am an idiot. A sandwich named for the Chairman of the Board and I never ordered it. Steak Pizzaiola and fresh mozzarella. Simple and delicious. Defonte's steak pizzaiola is top notch. Chunks of beef, falling apart, swimming in a warm and spicy tomato sauce. The Steak pizzaiola is ladled onto a hero roll and topped with mozzarella that starts to melt. The hero roll soaks up the tomato sauce but stays firm enough to handle and eat. This is an absolute winner. I can't believe I have never ordered it before. I can promise you I will again. This is made to be eaten in front of the TV while watching Derek Jeter or Eli Manning.
So here is to Arthur and I for ordering outside our comfort zone. I encourage you to do the same. We were well rewarded. I think you will be too.
And I just noticed Defonte's has a meatball parmesan hero called The Dino. "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie........"
Defonte's of Brooklyn - 261 Third Avenue at 21st Street - www.defontesofbrooklyn.com