Defonte's Sandwich Shop
379 Columbia St
Once in a while I come across a sandwich that becomes seared in my memory for days. Everything I look at reminds me of the amazing meal and all I can talk about is the grubbin experience. I'm happy to say this occurred this weekend after a visit to Defonte's in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Me and my HG pals made a plan to swing by Defonte's earlier in the week and I could barely contain my excitement since then. Defonte's is an old school Italian sandwich place near the water and the entrance of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that is known for their enormous sandwiches and delicious deli meats. Apparently it used to be a favorite for long shoremen back in the day and a popular Italian hangout. Perusing some of the worthless, non-HG food reviews online, I came across very few negative reviews. One "Mrs. B" complained that the sandwiches were "disgustingly huge" and proclaimed she would never return to Defonte's. I feel sorry for Mrs. B and even sorrier for Mr. B who likely will not be returning as well. While she gave Defonte's one star, the review fueled my excitement even further and confirmed that I should avoid all food blogs that are not HG or HG approved. I had set high expectations for Defonte's, but I must say, it did not disappoint.
You'll see to your left my own creation, a take on the Chicago favorite, the Italian beef sandwich. One of Defonte's specialties is their homemade roast beef; a giant roast that simmers all day in a tub of gravy. The sandwich starts with my boy behind the counter ladling the gravy from the roast onto either side of the bun, soaking each side with delicious meat juice. He then slices razor thin pieces of beef off the roast and piles it on top of the bread. Then, another ladle-full of gravy on top of the beef. Next, several slices of provolone cheese are allowed to melt onto the pile of hot roast beef. Finally, the best part, some fresh, spicy, gardiniera mix piled on top. This sandwich was so goddamn good. Mrs. B was right, it was gigantic. Any smaller I would have been severely disappointed.
Defonte's seems to have many favorite sandwiches. My HG pal went with the Defonte's Special, a combination of the hot roast beef, gravy soaked bread, melted mozerella, and crispy fried eggplant. He attested that it was in fact Hard Grubbin at it's finest. I've also heard they make a mean Italian sub, loaded with a variety of choice meats.
These sandwiches captured the true spirit of Hard Grubbin. Delicious flavors in enormous portions. HG author Chip aptly pointed out that even though massive amounts of food had been put into his face, he didn't feel sick, just satisfied. If anything it brought out even more excitement for future hard grubbin excursions.
Being an Italian sandwich store it had all the familiar signed photos of all the cast of The Sopranos. According to Tony himself I need to try their potato and egg. In fact most of the signed photos made it clear that the potato and egg was a must try at this place. No problem Tone, I'll deliver one to my face just for you.
I'm convinced Defonte's will be one of my go to spots for some time to come. I plan on making it my mission to eat everything they have to offer.