Anyone who knows me knows I love a few things: my wife, comic books, lounge acts with girl singers, cats, and Italian deli sandwiches. Here in Orlando, LaSpada’s has always been my favorite spot for an Italian hoagie bursting at the seams with cured Italian meats, sharp provolone cheese, and crispy fresh vegetables and pickled peppers. In 2017, Bad As’s Sandwich changed the game with their limited-time special, the Capone, which made my list of the year’s top five dishes. (Yeah, I’m probably gonna be citing that forever.) Then Stasio’s Italian Deli & Market opened this summer, and I reviewed it right here, on its opening day.
We are lucky to have one more great sub shop in town now: Manzano’s Deli (http://manzanowinterpark.com/), on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park, moments from Park Avenue and Rollins College, and directly next door to the Little Blue Donut Co. Manzano’s already has two beloved locations in DeLand and New Smyrna Beach, which I’ve never been to, but you can bet I checked their menus as soon as I heard one was opening here. Well, they finally opened for business in September, and my first visit lived up to all the expectations and hype.
You see, most sub shops will offer ONE Italian hoagie-type sandwich if you’re lucky, with salami, ham, and other cured, sliced deli meats, served cold. (I’ve never been a fan of sandwiches like this served hot, with the meats crispy and greasy.) Manzano’s has SEVERAL, and they’re all a little bit different. Looking at their menu, you must choose between the Italian Stallion, the Balboa, the V, the Pauly, the Rocco, and the Goodfella, and their ingredients aren’t listed in any specific order, making it a little difficult to compare and contrast when you’re hungry and in a hurry.
So for the benefit of my Saboscrivner Squad, I have created the Manzano’s Matrix, to help you choose the best possible Italian sandwich at a glance:
As you can see, the Rocco is the sandwich with the most ingredients. The Italian Stallion and the Goodfella are the same, except the Stallion has pepperoni, so I can’t imagine ordering the Goodfella unless you hate pepperoni. The Balboa and the V are the two with fresh mozzarella, but no overlapping meats, so that presents a difficult choice. But yeah, I like to maximize my sandwich experience, so I chose the Rocco… and I chose wisely.
Look at this thing!
Look at it!
That’s the whole sandwich (15″ for $16.99), and it is enormous. I think most hungry people can easily make do with a half ($10.49). Yes, it’s more expensive than Subway, Wawa, and even Jersey Mike’s, but you pay for quality, and this was an extremely high-quality sandwich. On top of being huge, the crusty bread was very fresh (flown in from New York), and the meats and cheeses were all from Boar’s Head, so you know they’re good. The Rocco comes with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, roasted red peppers (love ’em!), oil and vinegar, and two ingredients I asked them to hold, because I don’t think they belong on an Italian sub: black olives and mayo. No thank you! Mayo has its place, but not here.
I did ask them to add the sun-dried tomato spread that is a option on some of their other sandwiches, and they were kind enough to oblige. The sun-dried tomatoes are marinated in oil, so by the time I got this sandwich back to our little break room at work, it was quite soggy and messy to eat, but probably even more delicious. In fact, chilling it in the fridge for a few hours might have made it even better (and probably necessitated eating it with a fork and knife), but it was great as is.
If you aren’t into Italian deli meats, they still have plenty for you, don’t worry: turkey, chicken, roast beef, corned beef, pastrami, tuna salad, egg salad, etc. Manzano’s also serves paninis in addition to their giant subs, as well as salads and breakfast sandwiches in the morning. They can even craft you a custom sandwich with your choice of ingredients if their menu options aren’t tempting enough.
I look forward to returning, even though I think I’ve already figured out what their best sandwich is, and I’ll no doubt order it again. It’s a rough location there on Fairbanks, with very limited parking nearby. The location used to house Tatame Tea and Sake Lounge, one of the spots I took my wife on our first date back in 2006, but even someplace that cool couldn’t last. That’s the only drawback I can see, but hopefully Manzano’s will stay busy with lots of walk-in traffic from Rollins students, faculty, and staff. And if you ever feel like an amazing sandwich and a doughnut, you have this place and the Little Blue Donut Co. right next door. How can you go wrong with that? YOU CAN’T.