Who makes the best sandwich in the Valley? A few places can make a legit claim. One of the contenders would be Worth Takeaway. Worth is a small, often-packed temple of ciabatta, cheese, and protein on Main Street, the old main strip of Mesa.
Worth takes care of every last detail and more, delving into components of sandwich making known only to masters. The shop uses greens from Steadfast Farms in Queen Creek. You can't knock out the lettuce component any better, right? Yet there's another level of mastery. Worth dredges the greens in apple cider vinaigrette, adding another dimension of tang and brightness.
The thought put into these greens, a minor component of the whole, speaks to Worth's total war approach to the sandwich. Everything is considered. The result is a standout lineup.
The best thing I ate all week was Worth's roast beef sandwich for $9.75. It begins with springy, soft ciabatta. A craggy landscape rolls in shades of brown across the top, the crusty furrows and grooves white with flour in all the right places. The bread comes from City Bakery, a Denver bakery with a second location in Mesa. Just seeing the bread, you know it's on.
The bread delivers you softly to the interior. The roast beef is soft, too, with the tenderness and simple mineral flavor of slow-cooked beef. Worth brines the meat for 24 hours before slow-roasting.
A horseradish crema light drops the beef into a familiar flavor landscape. But we've all had roast beef with horseradish. The flavor ratios are edited a little here. Worth weakens the horseradish bite to a nibble, giving the rest of the sandwich's flavors room to unfold.
Giardiniera is the crux of this sammie. For those not familiar with the name, you're likely familiar with the object behind it. Giariniera is a medley of pickled vegetables, the crinkle-cut mass of cauliflower, carrots, and peppers densely packed into glass jars.
Worth ditches the usual vegetables for ones that change with the seasons, keeping step with locally available produce. When I was in, the giardiniera was a vivacious pink. Its brine absorbed the color from Easter Egg radishes. The giardiniera also contained turnips and Romanesco, an heirloom cauliflower.
The giardiniera's tang and snap balanced the heft of roast beef, cut the crema, and delivered the whole from very-good-roast-beef territory to something even better.
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The architects at Worth find the right place for the right things. Each part makes perfect sense and just kind of disappears into the whole, like the strokes in a great painting or the notes of a favorite song.
The only negative to Worth is that the room can feel crowded. There is a solution. Take your sandwich and $2 sleeve of homemade chips next door, to Oro Brewing Company, where a small-batch IPA might do the unlikely and improve your sandwich even more.
Worth Takeaway. 218 West Main Street, Mesa; 480-833-2180.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.