Driving down I- 287 in New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon on my way to Knoxville I saw a sign for Fuddruckers in Parsippany, looking at my best friend John whom I have known since I was five years old meaning, at least ten years...I Knew immediately where we were going to eat as we are both suckers for burger bars. We pulled off the highway and drove the half a mile or so only to find out Fuddruckers was closed. On our way back to the highway I saw a sign for “The Great Wazu Deli” and with a nod to my friend, pulled into the parking lot to take our chances.
Now as I’ve known John for coming up on… a lot of years, I probably know him better than his wife of twenty odd years knows him... which is to say, I know where all the bodies are buried. He is a fun guy but has no filter for what he says and consequently says or has said things I, wished he didn’t. This had gotten us into more than one fist of cuffs or scuffles over the years, but he being a bit smaller than I body mass wise, people always went for “the little guy” not knowing he was a boxing champ. This spared me from showing my” boxing like rowing a boat” technique, which is to say no technique at all.
We always came out of these altercations no worse for wear and sometimes learning valuable life lessons…which most of the time we would just as quickly forget. It seems as though the lessons that seemed to stick with John are related to sanitation as he has turned into quite the germaphobe over the past twenty or so years, and spends his days not touching things and going through what must be a quart of hand sanitizer. I should introduce the middle age's practice of tying a bouquet of flowers directly under his nose to balance his bodily humors…if for no other reason except to make him look silly, and really…isn’t that what friends are for?!
Walking into The Great Wazu I was relieved to see the place was very clean (as I knew my idiot friend would have nothing to bitch about on that front) and no long lines as it was a late lunch at about 2 pm, but had all the earmarks of a place that does a goodly amount of business. I walked up to the counter and the guy behind the counter asked “how you boy’s doin I'm Joe!” in a genuine voice…. “Do you’s know what ya want?” John and I both were staring at the menu board the way a person from rural Alabama stares at the Empire State Building on their first visit to the city all wide eyed and dreamy… there was not only a sandwich board behind the counter with dozens of sandwiches, but also one to our left that was filled with dozens more specials.
I’m not sure if it was me or my pal John, but I definitely smelled smoke coming from one of our heads trying to think of what sandwich we wanted. (It may have been the squirrel's treadmill in John's head finally burned a belt out) Finally I asked the guy behind the counter, how is the number ten? A guy walking behind Joe said, “It sucks less than the competitions number ten!” This was good enough for a laugh and an affirmation that a number ten would be just fine.
I asked how big a Half was and he held up what could be construed in some Eastern European countries as a weeks’ worth of bread. I said make mine a half and John asked for a half as well, both with everything. They sliced the meats in front of us and cheeses as well so thin they were nearly translucent….which was a good thing cause there were lots of meats going onto this sandwich.
Pressed ham, capicola, sopressata, genoa salami and mortadella with provolone cheese…that plus all the veggies made for a mountain of a sandwich and to top it off I got a bag of creamy dill chips but afterwards regretted this decision. I'm thinking I should have gotten the ketchup chips to reconnect with my French Canadian roots or my addiction to ketchup, either way…MY B! The dill chips said Dill but were really trying to pull off some sort of creamy ranch thing that I wouldn’t have given an ounce of hamster spit for. Why is it impossible to get good dill potato chips in the north?!
The bread had a bit of a crust to it with a toothsome chewy crumb or a grinder roll I like to call perfect. Yeah I said grinder, but if you’re more comfortable using sub, sandwich, hero, hoagie, or other terms lesser men use… be my guest. (I’m kidding people…simma down now!) The lettuce was shredded razor thin as were all the other veggies and only enhanced the flavor with a nice touch of extra pickles on the side…these people *sniff, sniff* had me at hello.
The service was friendly, and the owner came and chatted with us giving my friend John the opportunity to say "later this sandwich would be coming out of his great wazu"… to which the owner expressed his happiness for not being able to make the viewing… Thanks a lot no filter friend. We talked about social media, and looking at his website and Facebook page it’s clear I need to send him an Email with suggestions to fix that train wreck…but that being said the sandwiches were amazing.
My only regret was not getting a sandwich or two to go. But looking at everybody else’s as they walked by, appeared to be amazing as well. The walls are covered with local art and it’s always changing, some of it good, some not so much, all of it seemed expensive, (But I suppose if people were willing to give me eighteen hundred for a picture of a woman with bad feet why would I produce better looking feet…maybe the weird feet make it worth that much…I wouldn’t know, I’m not an artist) but better to look at than the model airplanes the owner said were once everywhere as a theme.
So if you’re driving down I-287 in Parsippany, NJ and you have a hankering for a really good sandwich…Stop in and see Joe, and tell him Pav said hey… Then tell him my idiot friend liked his sandwich as well and the reason he said what he did was because he was off his meds but seems to be doing better now regardless of how stupid he may have sounded previously and normally he wouldn’t have said that except he has had “issues” (say issues while making the air quotations) ever since the brainectomy…on second thought, Just tell him Pav said hey…and great number ten!