When I’m on the road and in dire need of an Italian sub—surely I’m not the only one with this recurring dilemma?—I’m not looking for world-beating fresh prosciutto or hand cut mozzarella or rolls sourced from a hundred year-old bakery passed down through successive generations. Those would be proper hoagies, which I take trips specifically to eat. You can find real hoagies on the road, but most times, that’s just not happening in a fast-food/fast-casual setting. I’m talking about subs, those meat and veg and cheese combos placed in usually indifferent bread, satisfying and yet not remarkable. You get, as they say, what you pay for.
So it’s worth noting the existence of the Vito, an Italian sub from the (very) fast-casual sandwich chain Jimmy John’s. The ingredients are fresh and plentiful, with a nice amount of fairly decent Genoa salami and capicola, acceptable provolone, and a vinaigrette that, while not a more traditional straight oil and vinegar, still provides a nice mouthfeel. Plus they offer bean sprouts as an option, and the slight crunch makes for an interesting contrast.
The ingredients alone, though, don’t make the Vito noteworthy. It’s the construction. I’ve long held that a sandwich with amazing ingredients can be let down by poor sandwich assembly. A good sub has every ingredient in every bite without the food being a jumble or a hacked-up mess. The Vito I had came from a location in Greensboro, North Carolina, which put together a textbook sub, with proper portions and careful ingredient layering.
This careful structure comes about by scooping out part of the bread, creating a managed space for the ingredients inside the roll. Were the bread better, I would complain about losing it, but here, the attention to detail makes a good sub even better. It’s optional, but I can’t imagine getting a Jimmy John’s sub without asking for the roll to be hollowed out.
For a fresh Italian sub on the road, I’ll keep my eyes peeled for a Jimmy John’s location. They’ll get you back on your way fast and fed.