Amazingly, both Eater and Thrillist just put out their ranking of the top Italian heroes (sandwiches, not champions of justice) in New York City, and neither of them mentioned the greatest, most iconic Italian hero manufacturer of them all: Alidoro. I’ve previously penned my homage to Alidoro’s Pinocchio sandwich, but had occasion to visit their newly opened, greatly expanded shop at 18 East 39th Street.
Chef Walter Momente continues to create his Italian masterpieces in the new space, complete with an espresso machine (making drinks that would have been ridiculed in the original shop in Soho had you asked for them), fresh herbs growing on the walls, Venetian tiles, and gorgeous repurposed wood tables and benches. The familiar sandwiches, named for Italian literary characters, authors, and artists, are virtually the same as downtown with the added bonus of newly invented Italian breakfast sandwiches (think brioche with egg, Bel Paese, porchetta, and basil pesto) and fresh baked, locally sourced Italian pastries.
I spoke to Walter and one of his new partners, Jon Streep, on opening night after the midtown lunch mob had dispersed. Walter was happy but appeared exhausted after serving twice the number of sandwiches he had anticipated at the grand opening. Jon, a longtime customer and fan of Walter’s authentic Italian heroes, wanted to give Walter the freedom and space to practice his art at a location near Grand Central Terminal and Bryant Park.
The sandwiches were unbelievably great as always, with ingredients unique to Alidoro and unrivaled (and often non-existent) at any other hero joint. As great as the Pinocchio is, Walter introduced me to a new sandwich creation that he named in honor of the new location. The components of the “Alidoro sandwich” are truly swoon-worthy. Just try speaking them out loud: “prosciutto, hot peppers, sweet peppers, mushroom paste, fennel, hot spread, and arugula on a Sfilatino bread sourced from Royal Crown Bakery in Bensonhurst.”