They go by a slew of names—subs, hoagies, grinders, heros—but these classic Italian sandwiches are beloved no matter what you call them. Some fans prefer them sloppily overflowing with meatballs and tomato sauce; others search out neat stacks of fine imported salamis and cheeses. True, they were born on the East Coast, but the ones we return to in Orange County can hold their own. Here are the markets and delis that serve the best.
Paninoteca Maggio is the brightest newcomer to the sub scene. Here, the Old World gives way to all things sleek and modern, but the sandwiches are no less authentic. The signature favorite is the porchetta-style Toscana: roasted pork, crispy shards of pork skin, arugula, and a piquant lemon aioli. There’s also a very good tuna sub enlivened by olive tapenade, roasted bell peppers, greens, and that same lemon aioli.
You’ll find Angelo’s Italian Deli on breezy Main Street in Seal Beach. Even after expansions that turned the once-cramped market into a more full-fledged grocer, it maintains a worn, rustic charm. There are fewer choices here than at some others, but the supremely addictive subs are slathered with a potent herb-garlic spread. There’s all manner of salami choices, but consider the great pepper turkey, too.
Cortina’s Italian Market is one of the county’s great Italian institutions. At its Anaheim location (to reopen soon following a June fire), the air is thick with the aroma of cured meats, aged cheeses, and pungent spices. The market-cum-restaurant has fed our hunger for these since 1963, but recently it also began baking its own bread, making its sandwiches better than ever. Order a massive eggplant parmigiana, or the famous Fireball: a warm, crusty roll stuffed with spicy capicola, calabrese, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, peperoncini, and a fiendishly fiery “hot mix” of red and green peppers.
195 E. City Place Drive, Santa Ana, 714-426-8095, paninotecamaggio.com
Angelo’s Italian Deli
133 Main St., Seal Beach, 562-431-1113
Cortina’s Italian Market
2175 W. Orange Ave., Anaheim, 714-535-1948;
964 N. Batavia St. Orange, 714-997-3663
Photographs by Priscilla Iezzi
This article originally appeared in the August 2013 issue.