It took a couple of years for him to reveal it, but soon-to-depart Mercury food critic Chris Onstad has finally 'fessed up: He's obsessed with Italian sandwiches! So much so in fact, he spent this week's Last Supper ranking the best Italian Sandwiches in Portland... as well as the absolute WORST. Check out the top spots...
1. Shut Up and Eat (3848 SE Gladstone)
The description of their Italian hoagie ($9.50) says almost everything (literally): "mortadella, Genoa salami, capicola, sopressata, prosciutto, pepper ham, provolone, asiago, parm, olive pepper relish, roasted bell peppers, olive oil, lettuce, and tomato." The overly deep channel of tender peppers, the olive tapenade, and the hidden vein of hammered bitter greens aren't traditional, but the volume and variety make this a sandwich you tangle with to find big new flavors in every bite.
2. Bunk Sandwiches (see bunksandwiches.com for all locations)
Bunk's Italian cured meats sandwich ($10, with a bag of chips) was the closest to true general-purpose Jersified perfection of them all. It's easy to imagine Tony Soprano on the toilet, shotgun across his knees, angrily pushing one of these into his gasping maw as Carmela goes through menopause in a museum across town. Every single flavor is distinct, from the salty provolone piccante to the house mix of marinated hot peppers.
3. Chop Butchery & Charcuterie (735 NW 21st)
Where Bunk nailed the heat and anger of a good Italian-American sandwich, Chop's Italian Stallion ($8) went for the quiet but intent shine of deeply smoky, house-made ham, salami, and tender mortadella. A hot mix of peppers and crisp, sharp vegetables gave it bright notes and great depth of flavor.
- Photo: Erik Ursin