For the nine months of her pregnancy, my wife was prohibited from eating things that are Bad For The Baby: cold cuts, sushi, vodka, lead paint chips, and so on. So now that she’s no longer sharing her body with the little rascal, I asked her what was the first thing off the forbidden menu she wanted to eat. No hesitation. Out of all the things in New York City she could have, she requested a Dana Special from Esposito’s. We’ve talked about G. Esposito & Sons before here. These guys are old school butchers who have a killer assortment of fine meats, Italian foods, and they are no joke with the Dagwood-style sandwiches, either. We haven’t come close to trying them all yet, but there can be no doubt that the Dana Special is one of the most eminently cravable sandwiches ever.Picture a fresh crusty sesame seed hero baked a block away at Caputo’s Bakery, stuffed to the brim with Italian ham, spicy soppressato, marinated sweet peppers, fresh Buffalo mozzarella, oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pep… and the colpo di grazia? Paper thin-sliced eggplant, lightly breaded and perfectly fried. Sweet and tart, salty and crunchy, its no wonder that this was the sandwich of all sandwiches my wife wished to eat after nine months. And being a good husband I ordered one for me, too. Solidarity! Can’t let her do this thing alone, am I right?
I’m a savory guy. Give me a hot meatball sub over cookies or candy any day. And without question, this time of year I’ll take a slice of Escarole Pie over chocolate covered Peeps or a Cadbury Egg. Have you had Escarole Pie? Up until I moved to the neighborhood of Carroll Gardens, I hadn’t even heard of it. Served for lunch at Christmas or Easter, this traditional Neapolitan dish is particularly outrageous this time of year when the winter escarole is at its peak. It’s baked like a traditional pastry topped pie, but filled with fresh green escarole, garlic, olives, capers, onions, pine nuts, raisins and occasionally anchovy. It is a salty, sweet, crusty and faintly bitter baked delight. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted and on paper it probably shouldn’t be so delicious but who am I to challenge several hundred years of Italian culinary wizardry? You can try to bake your own (good luck with that) or if you act quickly there is absolutely still time for you to hop the F train to Carroll Street and pick up this seasonal treat from local butcher-deli geniuses, G. Esposito & Sons Pork Store. And hell, if you’re already at the counter there you should probably ask them to make you a Dana’s Special Hero to go. That’s the sub to get, and we wouldn’t steer you wrong because we’re all about feeding your face at On the Real. Enjoy your weekend and happy holidays!