A Sandwich a Day: Will's Special from Riviera Italian & American Imported Foods
Meet the Will's Special. But let's be honest: if you possess even a passing fancy for deli sandwiches in Chicago, you're already well acquainted with this larger than life superstar from Riviera Italian & American Imported Foods on Harlem Avenue. Think I'm exaggerating? Try talking about a different Italian sub place. Just try it. People will trip over themselves coming out of the woodwork to to tell you about the Will.
Not that I don't get the appeal. Housemade capicola and mozzarella are joined by imported Genoa salami, hot sopressata, proscuitto, and spicy giardiniera, and the whole lot is piled to the sky between a dense Italian roll. At its thickest point, there is almost an inch of meat on this sucker. If you're still hungry eight hours after eating one of these, I don't want to know about it (assuming you even finish). And at $4.00, it has to be in the running for lowest Italian sub price in the city.
The only real drawback is that the meat is sliced a little too thick. Some of the slices were almost an 8th of an inch, and when you're talking cured meat, that means you'll be putting your back into each bite. While I think that JP Graziano's version is thoughtfully better (he adds basil and uses less meat, which brightens and lightens the whole affair), it's literally standing on the shoulder of a giant. This is the one that started it all.
Riviera Italian & American Imported Foods
3220 N Harlem Avenue Chicago, IL 60634 (map)