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Tour de Italian Deli 2.0

August 8, 2016

If you missed the first Tour de Italian Deli last year, this Saturday you’ve got another chance to bust your gut sampling some of the region’s best Italian subs.

We had nominations at the end of July, and I heard from a bunch of people who were slightly confused about this summer savory tour. Yes, we’re going to Italian delis. But we’re going there to check out their sandwiches. I guess here we call them subs. Other places might call them hoagies or grinders. The idea is to find out which of the beloved Italian delis you should visit when you’re in the mood for a sandwich.

In 2016, the Tour de Italian Deli Subs is headed to Schenectady.

Last year’s tour was a tremendous success. We had enough people that we were able to break up into three teams. One explored the Italian mix, another explored each shop’s specialty, and the third was hard core, eating a chicken parm sub at each of the five stops.

Who knows what the turnout will be this year. Hopefully we’ll have more, but feel free to invite your friends. The greater variety of sandwiches that can be evaluated, the deeper the learnings. So what’s the slate of Italian delis we’re going to visit? I’m glad you asked.

This year’s tour will begin at 11am sharp at Nikki P’s in Rotterdam. Is it a classic Italian Deli? Not quite. But it’s a Schenectady County institution and comes highly regarded by locals I trust. And subs are a big part of what they do. Plus, since this place is totally casual, and the weather may be a little iffy, it’s great to start at a joint where we can meet inside protected by the elements.

Remember the Fussy Little Tours happen rain or shine. So if it looks like rain, don’t forget an umbrella or a poncho. And it’s always a good idea to pack a towel.

The next three stops are all about the classics. And we’ll hit them from south to north. Stop two is Capri Imports, followed by Cappiello Foods, and La Gioia Deli. I know, I know. We’re flying right past beloved Italian classics like Civitello’s and More Perreca’s. But while those may be great Italian bakeries, they don’t really make the classic Italian subs we’re attempting to evaluate.

Finally, we’ll cross the mighty Mohawk to our final destination, Marcella’s. They have both a sit-down restaurant and a takeout sub operation. And perhaps we’ll even be able to sit down in there with our subs. I just don’t know. But we’ll find out. It’s part of the adventure.

I know there are some people out there who would probably still like to see this Tour de Italian Deli Subs as a tasting, where all the subs are gathered and brought to a central location. And I get that. But perhaps the best part of the Italian deli experience are the sights and smells of the delis themselves. I really have little interest in evaluating a sub removed from the context of the deli that made it.

From the beginning, these tours have always been about pursuing the answer to a question. They are activities I would gladly do on my own, but as fate would have it, these several-hour eating binges are more fun when I bring a group of people along.

I’m going to bring a cutting board, a bread knife, a digital scale, a roll of paper towels, and a trash bag. I’d encourage other participants to do the same. Just in case, I’m also going to bring a folding table and a pop up 10 x 10 canopy that I hope we won’t have to use. It’s also probably wise to bring plenty of water. Those subs can be salty. Don’t forget an umbrella if it looks like it might rain. And you’ll also need a pen.

When everyone shows up at 11am on Saturday, we’ll break into teams. No team will be smaller than two people. And no team will be larger than four. Of course, if you bring like-minded friends along, you don’t have to get paired up with people you don’t know. On the other hand, these tours are also good ways to make new friends. So it’s totally up to you.

Each team will be responsible for figuring out how to split the cost of the food equitably. The math isn’t very hard. Just please make sure to bring plenty of small bills, so nobody gets stuck holding the bag.

The scoresheets will look familiar to those who have been on a prior FUSSYlittleTOUR. And they’ll be virtually identical to last year’s Tour de Italian Deli Subs. We’ll be evaluating common criteria on a 1 to 5 scale. Those criteria will include bread, meat, toppings, value, and the overall experience of the sandwich.

At the end of the day, we should have a pretty good idea of which shop was the best. But I’ll bring back all the scoresheets, do some analytics, and write up the official results the following week.

It all begins at 11am sharp, this Saturday, starting at Nikki P.’s in Rotterdam. It’s not a ton of driving, but if we end up fielding teams of two, it can definitely be a lot of eating. Teams of three are really ideal.

All I need to know right now is how many people are coming so I can print out enough scoresheets. It’s going to be one helluva day of meats and cheeses. But swimsuit season is just about over for the year, and I’m ready to hang up my own diet for the experience.

So, who’s in?

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2016 10:10 am

    I have only been to one of these places, so put me on the list. Also, please note that the classic sub-making bakery on Jay St is “Perreca’s”. “More Perreca’s” is a sit down restaurant next door.

    Perreca’s makes a prosciutto and mozz sub and a muffuletta and wraps them to go at the counter and I recommend everyone swing by to pick up a couple, along with several slices of tomato pie, while they are in the neighborhood.

  2. Eric Taub permalink
    August 8, 2016 10:49 am

    Is this a Yelp event, or a FLB event? Either way, I’m in.

  3. Eric permalink
    August 8, 2016 10:51 am

    Also, heros, dammit.

  4. EPT permalink
    August 9, 2016 8:28 am

    I guess I have to ask what the purpose of these tours really are. Certainly this one is sort of Schenectady centered. What we don’t have great subs from Andy’s, Pellagrino’s? Oh so you have covered these in the past but then what’s the point? Getting together and munching down is a good experience but is it really getting down to what is best or great, NO. FLB tours just seem to be a way to promote FLB without considering what a food professional would see as a fair assessment of a particular kind/preparation of food. I’m ready to bet flared…

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