The restaurant space on the northeast corner of Mill and University must've been built over an Indian burial ground, because the spot is cursed. Once upon a time, Ruby Tuesday stood there, but its reign didn't last. Soon after its demise, the diner Sucker Punch Sally's took over -- but this occupation was much shorter.
Now the space is inhabited by DiVerti Bar & Grill (4 E. University Dr., 480-284-5972), an East-Coast-style grub pub that turns out decent food and righteous drink specials. Despite the grudges of Native American ghosts, it's my humble(-ish) opinion that DiVerti will survive, if for no other reason than the Overstuffed Sandwich.
If you're unaware of the joys of the Overstuffed Sandwich, get thee to DiVerti and try it out. It's a gloriously filling menagerie of your choice of meat along with provolone cheese, tomato, a slab of cole slaw and a handful of French fries (inside the sandwich! Crazy talk!) between inch-thick slices of fresh-baked Italian bread.
You can pick them up for $8.49 normally, but the truly bold will take on the $25 Overstuffed Sandwich Challenge: three Overstuffed Sandwich platters, complete with fries, in one hour. Finish all three within the time limit and you get your name up on the wall of fame, which is currently BLANK. I could be the first! I like being the first.
Which is why I'm at DiVerti for the first annual Diverti Overstuffed eating challenge. Though eaters can now take the challenge any time they wish, this day's gala is the kickoff.
For this inaugural contest, a variety of other prizes is also up for grabs. The third finisher of the three contestants wins a backpack. Second place takes home a portable, keg-shaped propane grill. The contestant who finishes first or gets the farthest becomes the proud new owner of a ginormous folding tailgate chair, complete with six cup holders and rated to 400 pounds -- perfect for your average big-ass food challenger.
Despite the possible rewards, only three brave souls step up. To my left: one of DiVerti's own, a cook, who says he eats one of these sandwiches every day after work.To my right: a bespectacled, average-looking dude who seems to have just signed up on a whim. All skinny, we're an unlikely group of competitors, especially considering with 30-35 ounces of food per platter, dudes who complete the entire thing will have eaten somewhere around six pounds of food.
We're given the option of sandwich meat, and because variety is the spice of life and I am a big dumb animal, I choose three different sandwiches: cheesesteak, turkey and pastrami. One of these was a HUGE mistake. The first platter arrives, the clock is set, and we dive in.
Right out the gate, I decide to put on a show, blazing right past my fellow competitors. I make my way through the first platter within 10 minutes and call for my second sandwich before either of them have even bit into the second half of their first.
Someone in the kitchen, however, must not have been amused at my hubris. The second sandwich comes out with a mountain of thick pastrami between the slices -- far more meat than the previous sandwich contained. They're not going to make it easy for me. This one takes more effort, but 20 minutes later both hoagie and fries have been vanquished.
All seems well until my first bite of the third sandwich. When did this bread get so thick? When did those fries get so numerous? I feel buried under an avalanche of starch and carbohydrates. I struggle through the first half of my final sammy (turkey), but the wall has arrived and there's no getting past this time. With so many onlookers, I want to win so badly, but I also don't want to projectile all over them, and there's just no more room at the inn. I nibble daintily on a few fries as the clock ticks away, having left behind a little less than half of my final platter when it finally concludes.
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However! It wasn't a total loss! Having beaten out the other two hapless competitors, I become the proud new owner of a giant party chair! I can't wait to fill all six cup holders with beer and bring it to my next tailgate or peewee soccer game. A homeless guy sitting at the bar hits me in the stomach in congratulations and I almost throw up on him.
Next time, no pastrami.