|Italian hoagie from C&B Italian Delly|
I lived four years on pizza and hoagies, so I came to expect that regular sandwich shops could assemble bread, meat and condiments into something delicious. But 20 years of bad rolls and tasteless sandwiches have left me happy to order almost anything else.
C&B Italian Delly in Ellicott City won me back over to the sandwich choir. Honestly, I only stopped because I was looking for the Ethiopian restaurant that they're going to open down the row. It was lunchtime. It was only a $6 risk to see if C&B could do anything worthwhile.
And they can. I went with just the "Italian hoagie" -- a relatively thin mix of cold cuts, a white cheese, lettuce, tomatoes on a long roll. It's the roll. We all know that sandwiches rise or fall on the roll, and C&B's roll tasted like Philadelphia. Some Quaker loyalists will complain that only Philadelphia-baked rolls can taste like Philadelphia, but C&B's bread had a light crust and a chewy texture that would have made me happy on Walnut Street.
With the bread, everything came together. Some good thin-sliced meats. Some hot peppers, a little oil and vinegar. A sharp cheese that I think was provolone. An Italian sandwich can be a really simple thing, but C&B pulled that off. Even with generic lettuce and tomato, that sandwich was easily one of my favorites around.
Two years ago, I posted about sandwiches and highlighted Bon Fresco and New York Deli in Columbia. Bon Fresco remains the gold standard with gourmet breads and delicious ingredients, but C&B's Italian leads in my "traditional Italian" category. Well worth the effort to check out.
Of course, the real test will be Mrs. HowChow because she grew up in Philadelphia. You know how those people are.
(Update: Note that Adam hit up C&B in 2010 and posted about pastrami and other sandwiches on Grub Grade.)
C&B Italian Delly
8457 Baltimore Pike (Rte 40)
Ellicott City, MD 21043
NEAR: C&B is just off Rte 40 east of Rte 29. The shopping center has some stores actually facing Rte 40, then some behind those. C&B is in the back section. You actually need to turn south off Rte 40, then turn into the parking lot.