February 24, 2009
There are a lot of delis in Manhattan, but there are few with the pedigree of Defonte’s, a Brooklyn relic known for their massive roast beef sandwiches and their house made fresh mozzarella. NYC Food Guy was ready for sandwich satisfaction on Defonte’s first day of business in Manhattan, on 3rd Avenue and 21st Street. Read on for delicious food porn and a look at the full menu.
Sandwich #1 – Nicky Special ($9.95)
Ham, capicolla, salami, fried eggplant, provolone, hot salad, marinated mushrooms, lettuce, tomato, oil, and vinegar
Aside from the roast beef, this is the sandwich I’ve read about most in articles about the Brooklyn branch of Defonte’s. I’m a fan of the first few ingredients in the Nicky Special, but once you hit the hot salad (a mix of celery, cauliflower, red pepper, green pepper, and pepperoncini) and marinated mushrooms, the sandwich took an undesirable turn. In regard to flavor and texture, I didn’t like the obtrusiveness of the celery, cauliflower, peppers and mushrooms. I kept the pepperoncini, however, and they added some welcome heat.
Sandwich #20 ($9.75)
Hot roast beef with fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant and natural jus
The sandwich that gave Defonte’s its name is delicious. It was a little skimpy on the tender, flavorful and rare roast beef but I’ll chalk that up to 1st day blues. I was lucky they had any roast beef left by 5pm. The fresh mozzarella is plentiful and creamy, the thinly sliced eggplant is crispy and tasty. I took things up a notch by requesting my hearty hero roll to be turned into garlic bread which added some welcome flavor. I suggest you do the same, roast beef, fresh mozz, and fried eggplant don’t over much pop on their own, the garlic bread takes care of that without overpowering.
My only complaint is that the sandwich wasn’t wrapped in aluminum foil to contain the heat of the roast beef and garlic bread. After a 15 minute transport uptown, the sandwich was cold, unmelted mozz, room temperature roast beef, soggy garlic bread. But it was all still delicious and that says everything. I’m excited to eat it fresh, in store, after Defonte’s settles into their groove.
Other Essential Information
- Defonte’s is closed on Sunday.
- As of now the hours are up in the air, they’ll be staying open until they run out of food. I picked up my sandwich close to 5pm, things were still hopping inside. The best bet is to call ahead and find out (212) 614-1500.
- I’ve repeatedly heard great things about the breakfast sandwiches, served all day. The potato and eggs with mozzarella ($7.95) and the peppers and eggs with mozzarella ($7.95) are the only two choices offered on the menu, but you can mix and match if need be or add Virginia ham to either sandwich for $1.50.