In Greenwich, Executive Corner Deli’s 2-pound ‘Godfather’ sandwich commands respect
Updated 12:00 am, Monday, September 25, 2017
Clocking in at about two pounds, it makes a thud when it hits the counter.
“It’s got eight meats and cheeses in there,” says executive chef Kevin Allmashy of one of his perennial favorites, “The Vito Corleone” sandwich, known affectionately as “The Godfather.” He has served up this monster of a sandwich since he first opened the Executive Corner Deli and Catering in 2005 in Greenwich.
“I knew we needed an Italian sandwich that was out of this world and the only way to do that was to get every single Italian meat that was available to me in there,” he says. While he eschews head cheese and other meats that appeal to a more esoteric bunch, this wedge is stuffed full with hot capicola, prosciutto, hot and sweet soprosata, mortadella, Genoa salami, ham, provolone and fresh mozzarella. Lettuce, tomato, red onion and roasted red and vinegar peppers serve as the vegetables, while extra virgin olive oil and red-wine vinegar round it all out.
Allmashy created the sandwich in homage to Francis Ford Coppola’s movie, “The Godfather,” released 45 years ago. Several special events, including cast reunions, and screenings have occurred this year to honor the film based on Mario Puzo’s best-selling novel. It became an instant classic and a cultural phenomenon, which continued with Part II and III. The 1972 film, which tells the story of a mafia family as it struggles to retain power in a post-war America, starred Marlon Brando as mob boss Vito Corleone.
Although there is no empirical or even anecdotal proof the movie spawned a wave of godfather-inspired dishes, several delis in the area have a version — sometimes offered as a special or, as its more generically called, the Italian combo.
“Everybody does it a little differently,” says Salvatore Tramontano, an owner of the G-Ville Deli in Greenwich, whose offering includes prosciutto, capicola, soprosata, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato, oil and vinegar. To further confuse the situation, Enzo’s Italian Fine Food in Stamford offers a godfather that is breaded eggplant, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers and balsamic vinegar. And Vito Corleone has inspired a pizza. At Famous Pizza in Bethel, the Godfather, with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs and crispy bacon, is the most popular pie. Perry Anastasakis, whose family runs the restaurant, says “The Godfather” is his favorite movie of all time. “It’s incredibly delicious,” he says of the pizza. “It honors its slogan, ‘The pizza you can’t refuse.’ ”
In creating his version, Allmashy wanted to give his wedge a bit more heft. “I have made Italian combos all my life,” he says, “it’s just that they never had all the meats that need to be in there.”
Allmashy’s Vito Corleone has been commanding respect since it debuted. Recently, however, he has seen an uptick in interest, to the point the deli is churning out about five a day (on a recent day, his crew made 10). Considering it takes about 8 minutes to make one, that’s nothing to sneeze at. He is considering a contest, somewhere down the line, for those who can finish the whole thing in one sitting. It may be stretching it, but it seems possible to feed a family of four with just one.
“This is the type of sandwich you can’t mess with,” he says, with a wide smile. Affable, accommodating and funny, watching him prepare it is a treat itself.
Allmashy, a Johnson and Wales-trained chef who enjoyed a career as a corporate chef before opening his deli, takes his time when it comes to layering the sandwich; he doesn’t get sloppy. “You are supposed to taste all the things you are supposed to be tasting in multiple layers. Every bite should have a different taste. As a chef, you can’t cut corners.”
Allmashy is a fan of “The Godfather” trilogy, as well as other Italian-American fictional dramas that have captured the public’s attention. He has the Tony Soprano sandwich, by the way, as well as the Tony Montana.
The latter, actually, is a nod toward the classic Cuban sandwich, and Al Pacino, who played the character in the 1983 movie “Scarface.” It honors, in a way, Pacino’s star turn as Michael Corleone in “The Godfather.”
Allmashy knows the Godfather is just a sandwich, but he never once wanted to hear “Whadda ya doing? Are ya kiddin’ me?” from true aficionados of great Italian sandwiches — many of whom are his customers. And, he hasn’t.
“There are some serious customers in that movie, and I’m talking about serious business,” he says, as he attempts to contain the sandwich with an ample wrap of white butcher paper. “If I was to serve one of these sandwiches to them, I’m sure they would be like, ‘This is unbelievable.’”
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