Defonte's CLOSED this location. The one in Red Hook, Brooklyn is still there.
261 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10010
(212) 614-1500

Defonte's of Red Hook, the sandwich shop with a 97 rating on UrbanSpoon, opened a Manhattan location this past spring that seems to garner no lack of attention from foodies with a more powerful medium than I. From TimeOut to Fox, everyone seems to love Defonte's. Hence I approach with caution, an eyebrow cocked by the skepticism that usually accompanies the smoothly flowing words of unadulterated praise. To quote NBC: "Hey, island people: you no longer have to soldier out to the edge of Red Hook for an Italian hero that'd make a Sicilian widow weep."

By this point I'm sure that you're on the edge of your seat asking if any Sicilian widows were bawling in the corner while I ate there, clad in black, lamenting the loss of Papa while clutching their damp handkerchiefs to their heart and thanking Providence that the sandwich recipe lives on. Well, no. Not that I could tell.

Defonte's is small, with only four indoor tables that you're more likely to share than not if you eat alone. On warmer days, there's seating streetside. Much of the business comes from cops from the 13th Precinct right next door. I pity anyone who tries to rob this place, as there's at least two guns here at any given time, and both will be pointed at the lucky punk's head in less time than it takes to open the register.

But if the space is small, the sandwiches aren't. Are they "the sandwich equivalent of cargo ships", the way they were described by the New York Times? Hardly. But while they may be no bigger in scale than what you might get at Subway, the difference is in what they're laden with. My Defonte's Cuban came with about 2 inches of roast pork and Virginia ham, not some small pittance there for some ham flavor. Throw on some melted Swiss cheese, some pickles, and wrap it all up in garlic bread and I'd have one perfect sandwich. Or I would if I got the garlic bread. But they put it on a regular roll. I wasn't about to argue. The Deli King, which DudeMan ordered the last time we went for lunch there together, was similarly heaped with corned beef, Swiss cheese, cole slaw and mustard. He liked it more than I did (though I found no flaws with it beyond that), not being much of a corned beef person.

DudeMan and I returned a few days later. He ordered the Macaroni Salad and we split the Chicken Cutlet Sandwich, a chicken parm. DudeMan praised the macaroni salad as the best he's had in twenty years and then spent the next fifteen minutes drifting back in time to the Koch administration when he remembered that he used to order this great macaroni salad from some deli on the Lower East Side that's probably long since become an American Apparel with a hotel on top of it. In the meantime I munched on the chicken cutlet sandwich and thought about how, despite the fact that while these sandwiches may not be cargo-ship large, I have yet to actually eat more than half of one without wrapping the rest to go.

With a sandwich and a soda, expect your lunch to run somewhere around $12.

Defonte's of Brooklyn on Urbanspoon

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