Sometimes, the most important part of a menu is an asterisk.
I love Neal’s Deli on Greensboro Street in Carrboro. I’ve been slowly but surely eating my way through their menu for years, and have found precious little that I don’t enjoy. I love grabbing a soup or grilled cheese when the weather starts to get chilly, their hot dogs are a great precursor to summer when the weather starts to warm up, and my fiancée and I have been known to fight over the last Brussels sprout. But my favorite item on the menu, the Italian sub, comes with an asterisk next to it that lets me know that tomatoes are available when in season. I live for the magical few weeks of summer when tomato season comes and my sub will include a few bright red slices of that special veggie (or is it a fruit?).
Like I said, sometimes the most important part of the menu is an asterisk.
It’s a pretty classic version of the Italian sub, salami, ham, provolone, lettuce, onion, oil, vinegar, and a choice of sweet or hot peppers (you can also have both, but I just go with sweet, personally) on a sub roll. Without the tomato, it’s still a really great Italian sub, with a great balance of salty, sweet, and acidic flavors. But the tomato adds a freshness to the sandwich with the juicy taste of hot, sunny summer days. The tomatoes, fresh, local, and in season, elevates a pretty simple sandwich to the Platonic ideal of an Italian sub.
And we get to have it right here in Carrboro, at least for a few more months.