I have been called a sandwich snob. That accusation is false. However, I do believe in something called sandwich theory. This is my quest to find the greatest sandwiches in Madison. Send me your sandwich recommendations by email or on Twitter or Instagram.
I decided to hit up a Madison tradition in Fraboni’s. I used to frequent their Regent Street shop in college, but they closed that location in September. Since then, the Italian deli has steered things to its only other location, off Monona Drive. Out of the cooler, I grabbed a pre-made Italian sub with genoa salami, spicy copa ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sub sauce. With some cool jazz playing overhead, I plopped down to my table — adorned with an old-school picnic print vinyl tablecloth — and got to work on Fraboni’s most popular sandwich.
The Italian comes on a classic fresh, soft hero roll. One corner of the bread had gotten a little soggy while sitting wrapped up in the cooler. I had no idea when they had made the sandwich, even though I stopped by in the normal lunch window around 1 p.m. But this was the only issue with the bread, which showed some solid integrity.
The meats and cheese were fabulous and abundant. Sometimes a classic deli sandwich like an Italian can get a little heavy on the vegetables in order to skimp on meat and cheese, but not at Fraboni’s. I wanted more sub sauce, though — Fraboni’s original vinaigrette, made with a secret recipe. The tang of that vinaigrette is what makes me know I’m digging into an Italian.
One portion was a little overstuffed with lettuce, which caused some spillage after the first couple of bites. I also got a little slidage on the back end, and the structural integrity plateaued the last few bites. It’s probably best that there wasn’t any more sub sauce; too much and it turns into a soggy, sliding mess.
At just under $7 (coming out of the pre-made cooler), you can’t beat that price for this sandwich. It’s also a super quick option since it’s pre-made, which may be important to some people.
Even though I would’ve liked a little more sub sauce, I can’t help but think about how each bite played out in my head. You start with the salty and fatty meats and cheese, then you get the crunch and freshness of the tomato and lettuce, and then it’s all brought together by the acidity of the sub sauce. In terms of deli classics, nothing beats an Italian, especially at Fraboni’s.