Monday, August 31, 2009 at 8:49 a.m.
Say what you will about Fort Lauderdale, but America's Venice knows how to put together a sandwich. It's not that there's a higher concentration of sandwich joints than elsewhere; it's just that what local places here are tend to make some badass, honkin' big sandwiches. There are some great ones to choose from, but in my opinion, no submarine can compete with one constructed from the king of Italian cold cuts, prosciutto. Married with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and olive oil, the prosciutto sub is salty against creamy, tart against sweet. And it's as hearty a lunch as you could ask for.
But there's more than one great prosciutto sub in these here parts. My usual spot to pick one up is My Market, a deli and sandwich shop tucked into a convenience store on 17th Street that we've showered with accolades over the years. The sandwich My Market turns out, the Prosciutto Roma, is a beast -- the large version, as long as your forearm, costs $14. It's hard to turn that sub down, but I've learned the pleasures of mixing it up by grabbing a prosciutto sandwich at another longtime Fort Lauderdale institution, Giorgio's Brick Oven. Also on 17th Street, Giorgio's is an ultra-Italian eatery serving pizza, pasta, chicken, veal, and antipasto as well as some very large sandwiches on bread they bake in house daily. It's hard to choose between the two versions, but if I had to, here's how it would go down...
The hallmarks of My Market's Prosciutto Roma are bigger, bigger, and bigger. This is a huge sandwich, even at its "half" size, which runs $8. Inside, there's a whole pig's worth of prosciutto -- soft, silken waves of buttery, fatty, supple meat. The fancy ham has a melting quality to it that's pure win; it's also not too salty. And if it were, those thick slabs of fresh mozzarella would cool it off. Finished with olive oil, basil, a touch of Balsamic vinegar, and a dusting of dried oregano, the sub hits all the right notes. Better still is the bread, a two-inch-thick loaf of crusty ciabatta with some serious heft. The chewy bread will give your jaw a workout, but it tastes so sweet and sour and fragrant all at once. Yum.
The best thing about Giorgio's sandwiches? The bread. This house-baked loaf comes fresh from their brick hearth daily, dusted in flour and sporting a beautiful, crackly crust and an airy light interior. Giorgio's proceeds to fill that loaf with a thick layer of firm prosciutto, salty and rich, and thick, oozing slices of fresh mozzarella. They also use basil and tomato and a generous wallop of Balsamic vinegar and EVOO, but the oregano is absent in favor of bits of rosemary baked right into the bread. And at $8.50, it's not too heavy on the wallet. It comes with some decent pesto bowtie pasta salad with chunks of marinated zucchini that would taste better if the pasta were not quite so firm. But the sandwich itself is awesome and very easy to eat; you start out with small bites, and before you know it, it's gone.
Winner: My Market, by a nose. While I think Giorgio's bread comes out ahead in the texture department, the quality of prosciutto My Market uses is just better. It's not leathery, ropey, or firm at all -- instead, the buttery waves of meat seem to melt on your tongue. I also think Giorgio's goes a little heavy on the Balsamic, and My Market is a touch more generous with the basil.
In short, they're both great sandwiches. But if only one can stand tall, that one would be My Market's Prosciutto Roma.