Submarines, the sandwich, Atlantic City’s version, are the topic of this post which is being guest hosted and contributed by my cousin John Vanstone, who is himself a lover and aficionado of this unique gourmet’s delight.
Submarine sandwiches have long been a staple junk food of the Atlantic City populace and later of the many visitors, renowned and unsung, who came to know of their indescribable but unforgettable taste.
Originally they were all of the Italian variety with meats like salami, coppacola, prosciutti (sometimes), provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions, red pepper flakes (if you chose) and olive oil. Later on they got into other combinations of ingredients that eventually led to such comparable delicacies as REAL Philly cheese-steak subs.
While they can be found in many USA cities and may be called hoagies (NewYork), grinders (Boston) or other names, the distinct feature of the Atlantic City sub is the authentic Italian hard-bread, rolls that surround all that good stuff.
In Atlantic City, entire Italian bakeries like Rando’s, Formica’s, Panarelli’s in the Georgia-Mississippi Ave. neighborhoods were primarily dedicated to producing submarine rolls. Some claim that A.C. water is the secret part of the savory submarine rolls but this may be purely myth.
Submarine sandwiches anywhere that don’t use real Italian bakery bread are doomed to non-distinction, regardless of the quality of their ingredients. I only wish my Albany, N.Y. purveyors of subs would come to realize that basic fact.
When I discovered A.C. subs in the 1940s, only Mancini’s shop at Georgia and Arctic Aves.
next to Club Madrid was nearby and their pretty daughter, who made the subs, was an added attraction. One of her brothers, Nick Mancini, was the Marine machine-gunner featured in that famous Technicolor movie documentary, the Battle of Midway.
At that time the Delaware Sub Shop also had a good reputation but was too far away to be tested by me.
In the postwar 40s, the now legendary White House at Mississippi and Arctic Aves. was opened. An original part-owner was Ralph Sacco, Sr., the father of my good pal Fuzzy Sacco. Both Fuzzy and his brother Ralph Jr. worked there for many years before Fuzzy started his own chain of sub shops called Sack O’ Subs in Margate, N.J. and other offshore towns.
My brother Joey was a lifelong fan of White House subs and had them whenever he was in town. I believe my Aunt Pat once shipped unrefridgerated White House subs to one of her drooling sons, who was in the service and stationed in Hawaii, that produced somewhat questionable results.
Later my cousins Bob and Mick McNesby made and sold the incredibly good McNesby’s Irish Subs at their shops in Cardiff and Brigantine N.J. Fortunately, they didn’t trade in Italian cold cuts for the Irish variety (whatever that may be) and maintained the traditional A.C. submarine sandwich quality standards by using Italian bread from Formica’s bakery.
In keeping with tradition Mick’s son Keith, who’d moved to Arizona, opened his own sub shop across from the University of Arizona.
In his effort to maintain the quality of an Atlantic City sub, he took a trip to the resort for the purpose of visiting Formica’s Italian Bakery. He had the owner Frank make him up a half dozen loaves, packed them in dry ice and tenderly nursed and cared for them until they reach their new destination.
Upon his return to Arizona, he solicited several bakeries to see if they could duplicate this unique Italian sub roll. He found one that came so close it was hard to tell the difference.
And today, East Coast Super Subs, now operating in the Old Pueblo, has taken its place among the finest sub shops Atlantic City or Tucson has to offer.