Capriotti’s sub shop opened March 15 at the edge of a strip mall on Junction Road not far from Biaggi’s, Panera and the wonderful, locally-owned sandwich shop, Signature Deli. HuHot Mongolian Grill and the new Salad Creations share the same strip.
According to its menu and website, the first Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop opened in 1976 in Wilmington, Del., in a neighborhood known as Little Italy.
It now operates in 11 states. The west side shop is the second in Wisconsin; one opened in downtown Milwaukee last December.
Capriotti’s made a name for itself with an intriguing sandwich called the Bobbie. It’s Thanksgiving dinner between a bun: dark and white turkey meat, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mayonnaise. And it’s awesome.
On a recent Saturday, two companions wanted to go to Lazy Jane’s on the other side of town for lunch, but agreed to try Capriotti’s. Still, as soon as we got there, they griped about the bare-bones atmosphere.
“This is a restaurant on the cheap. It’s a step up from a Kwik Trip,” one said. “It’s part of the minimalist fast food movement.”
But the environment wasn’t the point, the same way it’s not the point at a Subway or Cousins store. And once the food arrived, my companions agreed the sandwiches were superior to most fast-food submarine sandwich shops.
They were both surprised at the size of a small sandwich — half of which could suffice as a meal for some people.
All the sandwiches I’ve tried have been first-rate. The Bobbie ($6.75 for a 9-inch small, $8.25 for a 12-inch medium and $12.50 for a 20-inch large) was outstanding. The soft rolls have a pleasant texture from crushed sesame seeds and stand up to lots of ingredients.
Even better is the Capastrami ($7.75 for a small) with hot pastrami, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, cole slaw and mayo. The whole thing is soft and succulent, and goes down quick and easy.
Another excellent choice is the Italian ($6.75 for a small) sub bursting with prime cold cuts like Genoa salami, capicola (spiced pork shoulder or neck) and prosciuttini (peppered ham). It also had provolone, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles and spicy, crushed peppers. A companion complained that there weren’t enough vegetables for her taste, but she said the meat and cheese were comparable to what you’d find in a New York deli.
A chicken cheese steak was molten cheese goodness with choice chunks of chicken, grilled onions and sweet peppers. It was a nice alternative to the standard red meat version.
A meatball sub had plenty of sauce, meat, provolone and grated Romano cheese. It was a terrific version of a common sandwich.
A tuna sub ($6.75 for a small) loaded up with pickles, sweet peppers, provolone, lettuce, onions and tomatoes was compelling with a light treatment of mayo and mustard.
Capriotti’s made a grilled cheese on regular sliced bread for my 4-year-old daughter, even though it wasn’t on the menu, and charged me only $1.99.
She was impressed with the bathroom, and proclaimed: “It’s so sparkly in here! It’s beautiful.”
There are no side dishes beyond bags of “Dirty” brand kettle chips (99 cents for a small bag). The smoky “funky fusion” flavor with paprika and turmeric is particularly good.
Capriotti’s offers a few varieties of large, house-baked cookies (99 cents) that are worth trying — especially a white chocolate macadamia version.