Johnny Jo's Pizzeria owner John Milone was just plain bored.
"My manager, Julian Garcia, and I were standing around this winter - it's our slow season," Milone tells me. "And he kept talking about tiger bread, this thing he used to get for sandwiches in San Francisco. I decided to make some. It really is great, so we decided to add sandwiches to our menu."
The tiger bread looks more giraffe- or tortoiselike, give or take its color, but the loaves are definitely distinctive: round and crusty and appealingly golden. After they're ready, Milone splits them open and fills the bread with a quarter-pound of sliced salami and cheese or a mix of vegetables, and dresses them with a garlic-basil spread that he says is "like pesto, but without cheese or nuts." He makes about a dozen of each of the two kinds of sandwiches daily (for $5.95), and they typically sell out by noon.
If nothing else, Milone has remedied his boredom. Baking the bread takes a couple of hours, and he says it's labor-intensive: "I essentially created more work for myself."
No one has time to be bored at Carlos Mortera's new sandwich shop, The Bite, which opened in the City Market February 28 and has been consistently busy ever since. Mortera and business partner Brian Thorne concentrate on carryout - the small dining area is strictly utilitarian - and the line forms early for unusual hand-helds, such as the Bay of Pigs (smoked pulled pork, prosciutto, smoked gouda, and habanero pickles). The surprise best-seller here is the Sloppy: a meat-free sloppy Joe made with soy chorizo, corn, olives, queso fresco, pickled onions and Sriracha crema. The Bite's bread comes from the Bonito Michoacan Bakery (1200 Minnesota Avenue, Kansas City, Kansas); the shop also serves house-made tamales.
At the Broadway Butcher Shop, general manager Stuart Aldridge makes just one kind of sandwich at a time, and it changes daily. His Wednesday special when Fat City stopped by: mortadella, with Taleggio cheese and a thick spread of truffled honey, between slices of the country loaf from Sasha Baking Co. (105 West Ninth Street). During the week, Aldridge's sandwiches cost $7.50; the Saturday special, the BFS ("It stands for Big Friggin' Sandwich," he says) is $15 - with "everything but the kitchen sink" in it. "It's a big sandwich - it weighs 3 pounds."
JOHNNY JO'S PIZZERIA
1209 West 47th Street
Salami sandwich ($5.95), vegetable sandwich ($5.95)
"Totally satisfying." "Very edible." "The bread freaks me out, but I like the garlic stuff."
BROADWAY BUTCHER SHOP
Wednesday special: mortadella, Taleggio, truffled honey ($7.50)
"Rustic and sophisticated at the same time." "A great meat-to-bread ratio." "I'd eat this every week."
23 East Third Street, 816-503-6059
Sampled: Boss Hog ($10.95), Bay of Pigs ($10.95), Sloppy ($8.95)
Consensus formed around two ideas: The Boss Hog's sauce is too sweet, and the sandwiches are too expensive for too little filling. "A hog would look at the remnants of a fallen comrade, coated in a mess of sweet, soy-based barbecue sauce, and weep," one eater reported. Said another: "I bit into this sandwich expecting a pulled-pork barbecue affair and instead got a teriyaki-like onslaught. The flavor of the sauce is too domineering for me." The Bay of Pigs, however, was a winner: "The best pork barbecue sandwich I've had in a long time," one eater said. "Meaty and inventive," added another. And the Sloppy? "Delicious but too much bread," said a taster, who said this was an especially well-seasoned soy-rizo.