View Full Version : Subs (aka: Heroes, Hoagies, Grinders, Po' Boys, etc.)

Jersey Warren
02-05-2007, 02:07 PM
This is another favorite topic of mine. I grew up in Bergen County in a family that was half Italian (biologically) and about 98-percent Italian culturally. As a result, I feel that subs (or heroes as my family always called them) are a proprietary Italian "invention." Granted, the sub roll resembles French bread, so the French have an equal claim on them, but so few French came to New Jersey that even most French bread where I grew up was baked by Italian bakeries like Lazzara's in Paterson and Foschini's and Minardi's in Hackensack.

My first requirement is that the roll or bread be CRISP. The bread in France and Italy is much harder than anything you see in this country. When I first left the NJ-NY area to go to Massachusetts, I was appalled at what they called Italian bread, French bread, or sub rolls. It was squishy like Wonder Bread or hot dog rolls, only long, skinny, and unsliced. Every time I bought bread and rolls in Massachusetts, I heated them up in a 350-degree oven in an attempt to crisp them, but was only partially successful because they lacked density.

On every trip to New Jersey, I'd bring a dozen bakery hard rolls back home with me!

Now, as for subs, it's been so long since I lived in New Jersey I couldn't single out a particular restaurant. But as long as the proprieters are Italian you probably won't go wrong. The best thing to do is check the menu board. If it lists mostly Oscar Meyer-type cold cuts like bologna and American cheese, you're in trouble. The board should list (at least) Genoa Salami, Capocallo, Prosciutto, Mortadella, and Provolone cheese. They should also have meatballs, Italian sausage and peppers, and veal cutlet and/or eggplant parmigiana. (Notice the failure of places like Subway in this last regard.)

I've been to a Jersey Mike's here in Florida and it is far better than what you find in most places outside of New Jersey. But back in Jersey, I'd only give it a B rating compared to all the Mom and Pop shops in places like Lodi, Garfield, Newark, or Jersey City. Main reason: the rolls are just not crisp enough, though far better than what I had in Massachusetts.

When my family moved to Toms River they complained that the bread and rolls were not as good as they had been up in Bergen and Hudson Counties, within spitting distance of Ellis Island where immigrants first brought their ideas of how to make a sandwich to the Wonder Bread eaters!

The best subs I ever had outside New Jersey were in a chain in Wisconsin called Cousin's Subs. One day I read on their placemat that Cousin's was started in Milwaukee by two transplants from Atlantic City! "Ah, hah!" I said. "No WONDER they're good!"

The best subs? Why the ones I make myself at home! :D

a kid, then lived in Point Pleasant Beach in my teens and early 20's, I used to go to Seaside a lot. I remember a place called Poor Pete's Pizza which had excellent pizza. The slices were big, the sauce was tasty, and just enough mozzerella. I don't know if they were the best or even if they're still around. But once you find something you like, you stick with it! Now I live 10 mins from Atlantic City and for some reason I can't find pizza here that is as good.It's okay, but just not the same!! How about doing a spot on the Best Subs in NJ. I like Jersey Mikes and Poor Boys. Here in AC, Sack'os and AC Subs are pretty good. I thought White House Subs were overrated and too expensive. How about it Sub Lovers? Sorry, but, Hoagie is a Philly word, not New Jersey.

02-05-2007, 02:24 PM
Just to let you know that I moved this post and created its own thread to discuss "New Jersey Subs".

02-06-2007, 10:54 AM
There was a place in New Brunswick called Greasy Tony's that use to serve a Sub called the KITCHEN SINK for obvious reasons. If you could eat a whole one you got a free dessert. I finished one once

02-19-2007, 10:49 PM
I've always enjoyed subs from Sub Doctors on Rt. 37 (Near the Community Medical Center). On the weekends they have a deal where you get 3 large subs, a 2litre of soda and a big bag of chips for like $22.

131 Dukes St.
06-28-2007, 07:30 AM
The best subs period are at Big Stash`s on Kearny Avenue about a block north of where they used to film the soprano`s meat store Satriele`s which used to be West Hudson Auto parts.

10-10-2010, 09:00 PM
Curiously, I recently started a survey on the topic of what to call these sandwiches, and you can help me out by posting what they're called near where you live.

The survey is accessible at

BTW, I am a sociolinguist studying dialects in the NYC area, which is why I'm doing this survey. You can check out my webpage at qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/~mnewman