While Fontano's has expanded throughout the city and the suburbs, there's something eccentric about this location, home to its principle offices and the closest in proximity to its Little Italy flagship store.
For one, it's not just a sub sandwich place: In addition to the deli in the back, there are plenty of groceries – candy, snacks, soft drinks, meats, cheeses – certainly enough goods to label Fontano's as a "convenience store." Secondly, the staff have no problem joking around with you, putting newspaper clips on the wall that insinuate they want to have Elton John gift-wrapped for Christmas, while keeping the business part simple and curt. "What are you getting?" is the first question you're asked, followed by a listing of toppings ("Want everything on it?"), and that's about it. Now eat, and then we'll talk about other matters.
Sandwiches here range from 6 inches to 3 feet (from $3.50 to $30), offering five different sizes to specify to your stomach's needs. Fresh meats and breads help separate Fontano's from your typical corporate, preservative-filled sandwich, so every sub here has a little extra kick to it. Italian salami with provolone cheese, corned beef and Swiss cheese, and the classic meatballs in gravy are just three in a fairly diverse lineup of sandwiches. Two things in particular make these sandwiches stand out: 1) a plethora of meat, and 2) something extraordinary sweet and delicious about the mayonnaise. One can only speculate what's added to make the condiment so glorious.
Four of five tables make up the seating area within the place, and it could feel a little weird eating in what amounts to a convenience store (it really seems more like a take out/delivery joint anyway), but feel free to dig in while you're there. At the very least, it will give the staff a few more minutes to chat with you while your mouth's full.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Andy Seifert