Matt Bonner Sandwich Hunter 12/9/14

As we near the end of 2014, one can’t help but think about the year that was. In the media, this tends to occur in the form of lists: the top 10 news stories of 2014, the 25 most watched youtube videos, sports highlight countdowns, etc. But what I most look forward to, are the various “best album” rankings. One such album that is on almost everyone’s list this year is Lost in the Dream, the third LP by Philadelphia-based band The War on Drugs. Personally, I give it album of the year. I absolutely love it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I approached War On Drugs bassist Dave Hartley about taking me to his favorite local sandwich spot, and he graciously acquiesced.

I met Dave at Paesano’s in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia for my ritual game day sandwich.

We walked inside, and my nostrils were immediately overwhelmed with the mouthwatering aroma of delicious grilled Italian sandwiches. I then observed the classic hole-in-the-wall surroundings. It was no bigger than a hotel room at the Holiday Iiiiiiiiiinn, with only 7 stools along a small bar that overlooked the cooking/sandwich prep area. The wall facing the grill was covered with many awesome photographs of celebrities who have eaten there, awards, and pictures of ingredients (before being turned into sandwich meat… any Charlotte’s Web fans should avoid looking at this wall!). Needless to say, I was exceedingly excited for my lunch and had to restrain myself from ordering everything on the menu.

While we waited on our sandwiches, I had the opportunity to ask Dave some questions:

MB: Being on the road touring so much, does the band consume a lot of sandwiches?

DH: Yes, we do eat a lot of sandwiches. It’s kind of a running joke because as a band we’ll periodically pretend to go “gluten free” because we sit around a lot. We’re not like you guys where you’re constantly burning calories. So, we’ll be like, “I’m off bread! I’m off bread today!” And at the end of the night, sure enough, we’re all eating sandwiches and pizza saying, “Well, I’m back on bread!”

MB: You guys have gotten the opportunity to tour all over the globe. In your worldly opinion, what locations have the best sandwiches?

DH: I guess that depends how you define a sandwich. For example, a kabob is debatably a sandwich, and we love kabobs. I think Philly has incredible sandwiches. But I live here, so I’m obviously a little biased. New York also has really good sandwiches. Let’s see, I love a torta. I don’t know if you’ve ever blogged about a torta, but it’s a Mexican type of sandwich.

MB: Come on, I play in San Antonio. We know what tortas are.

DH: That’s right. I forgot. I love a torta in the southwest.

MB: So if you had to pick one sandwich as your all time favorite, what would it be?

DH: I’d say either a Reuben or an eggplant parm. Or meatball? Ahhh it’s tough. Um… I’d go with a Reuben. A classic Reuben.

MB: Good choice. Shifting gears now. My favorite song off Lost in the Dream is “An Ocean In Between the Waves.

DH: Cool.

MB: Is it true that song was originally titled “A Slice of Ham Between the Rye”?

DH: (laughing)… How did you know about that? I didn’t know you were tapped into the deeper mythology of the record. I believe it was actually “A Slice of Pastrami Between the White Bread.”

MB: And on the album cover, is it true that Adam Granduciel is sitting in a window sill staring longingly at that very sandwich?

DH: (more laughing)… Yes that’s true.

At this point our food arrived.

And let me tell you, Paesano’s did not disappoint. The sandwich recipes were quite unique and absolutely delicious. “The Paesano” consisted of slow roasted beef brisket, horseradish mayo, roasted tomato, pepperoncini, sharp provolone and, most importantly, a fried egg.

“The Arista” was made with slow roasted suckling pig, Italian long hots, sharp provolone, and spicy broccoli rabe. This sandwich had some kick to it.

In both sandwiches, the flavors blended to perfection and they were cooked fresh to order right in front of us. Tom James boldly announced that it was the best sandwich he’d ever had. Even though he’s originally from Vermont, nobody argued with his proclamation.

I would definitely recommend Paesano’s to anyone. They make mouth wateringly unique Italian sandwiches with fresh in-house ingredients cooked to order. My only caveat is to be careful if you have a basketball game a few hours after eating. I ended up needing some Tums half way through the third quarter… but it was worth it!