Where: Niccoli's Deli
When: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; open a half-day on Monday
Dish: Italian sub
Price: $9.73 (including tax and tip)
The Setting: Niccoli's Italian Deli (6102 North 16th Street) is part market and part eatery, similar to other lunch spots such as Luci's Healthy Marketplace and La Grande Orange. Unlike these other places, though, Niccoli's is far less trendy and much more old school. The market side of the restaurant features cases of brined olives and fresh-baked rolls amid shelves of specialty Italian goods. The eatery side brought us back to our grandmother's house in New Jersey — the crookedly arranged tables were covered in flower-printed plastic tablecloths and tennis was on the big-screen TV (of course, located next to a print of Frank Sinatra). The staff at Niccoli's fit the bill, too — they were pleasantly overbearing and super-friendly.
The Dish: The Italian sub (Genoa salami, capicolla, mortadella, ham, Provolone, shredded lettuce, tomato, thinly sliced onion, chopped pepperoncini, and dressing on a homemade roll) was excellent. The meat was soft and salty and in perfect proportion to the crunchy iceberg lettuce. A thin layer of cheese provided a creamy change-up from the other flavors and textures in the sandwich, and the combo of pepperoncini and a homemade Italian dressing made the whole sandwich come alive with an oily, slightly spicy punch. The sub roll was outstanding and everything you'd expect from a real Italian deli with a slightly chewy crust and a doughy middle. Despite being narrow, the roll held the sandwich together impeccably and soaked up the oil of the meat and dressing. There was even enough for us to take a doggie bag home — and despite being full when we left, the happy thoughts of a slightly soggy leftovers danced in our head on the way home.
What We Loved: The interplay between all of the elements of this Italian sub were sublime. The homemade roll and dressing set this meal apart from other sub sandwiches.
What We'd Change: Niccoli's lunch menu isn't listed online. We wish we could have scoped the menu ahead of time, but we'll have to rely on the paper version until Niccoli's updates their website.
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