All-City is a cut above
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., May 6, 2011
All-City Subs3808 S. Congress #2, 516-3660
Monday-Tuesday, 11:30am-7pm; Wednesday-Thursday, 11:30am-1am; Friday-Saturday, 11:30am-2am
All-City Subs is located in a trailer sitting next to the 04 Lounge, a hipster/neighborhood dive bar at the northwest corner of Krebs Lane and South Congress, a little south and across the street from Opal Divine's Penn Field and right up the hill from Mark Larkin's An Honest Mechanic (Austin's Best Toyota Mechanic). All-City delivers in the 04 ZIP code until 4pm, and you can dine at the single picnic table, take it to go, or eat inside the 04 Lounge, where alcohol is available. What makes the people at All-City different is that they try to make as much of the sandwich as they can, including breads, spreads, meats, and pickles. They locally source as much of the product as possible, and they always have a vegetarian option for the anti-carnivore crowd.
Owner Jeff Bellucci hails from Providence, R.I., and he opened All-City back in October 2010. Providence has a thriving Little Italy, and 14% of the population claims Italian heritage, including Bellucci's nonna, who's the source for many of the recipes. The bread that the sandwiches are made on, a sweet Italian hoagie roll, is baked locally according to the Bellucci recipe. ("I have to keep the baker's name on the down-low until they get their own retail bakery up and running," says Bellucci.) The roll has a nice texture and great flavor, and if it weren't stored in a bag, it would have a crunchy exterior.
We tried several of All-City's sandwiches and liked them all. The slow-roasted pork ($6, small; $9, large) is a real winner. Thin slices of rich pork are piled high on a roll that has been schmeared with Bellucci's assertive homemade coarse-grained mustard. The pork is dipped into a simmering jus and then topped with excellent beer-braised collard greens and crunchy sweet-and-sour pickled onions. Then the whole thing is covered with melted smoked provolone. It is a well-balanced combination of flavors.
The chicken salad sub ($6/$9) is made to order. The hand-pulled beer-can-roasted chicken is incredibly moist and flavorful, and the garlic aioli is a nice touch. The diced celery is complementary and provides crunch. The only way to make it better might be by adding a nut or fruit for color and another taste dimension. It also has the smoked provolone on top and is cradled in the hoagie bun.
The meatball Parmesan ($6/$9) is made from large, hand-rolled meatballs using Granny's recipe. The spicy meatball is cut into thick slices, covered with a bright, robust marinara, and then topped with smoked provolone and Parmesan. The sausage and peppers ($6/$9) combines beer-boiled sweet Italian sausage with red, yellow, and sweet green bell peppers that have been marinated in tomatoes, Marsala, garlic, and basil. It can be had with the ubiquitous smoked provolone, which was my choice. It's a good sandwich that could be over-the-top with a better sausage (it's the only meat Bellucci does not make in-house).
The pastrami ($7) is wonderful. Sliced homemade rye bread is slathered with the zippy mustard, then piled with lean pastrami, provolone on top and bottom, and pickled onions before being grilled on both sides. It's a keeper. I must mention the Godfather ($15), a gargantuan sandwich for two or more that weighs 3 pounds. Of the 26 people who have tried to consume it solo, only one has succeeded. "He was a little skinny guy and polished it off in just 12 and a half minutes," says Bellucci. "I couldn't believe it."
Check out All-City. We think you'll find it a cut above the standard sandwich spot. The menu isn't huge, but the offerings are all first-rate, and you get good value for what little you spend.