I had an interesting experience today at Stars & Stripes Giant Grinders in Middletown.
They’re just up 217 from where I used to live in “Condo City” (West Lake Drive), on the edge of Middletown that borders Cromwell. They actually fill a hole – Zerio’s, with whom I kicked off this thread, is pretty much the only place for grinders in the immediate area aside from Nardelli’s. And Zerio’s is fantastic, but it’s always nice to have more choices.
S&S is a young operation, occupying the space of what I think used to be a little grocery next to the package store in the same building. Since they didn’t have much reputation to go on aside from a handful of online reviews, I didn’t really have any expectations aside from size.
Their menu had the standard assortment of grinder and Italian dinner options, plus, oddly, gyros. I got an Italian combo, and, having finally learned my lesson, swapped out the lettuce and tomato for roasted peppers and onions. Meats were ham, capicola, and pepperoni; cheese was provolone (they offered American as an alternative, but who on earth would do that?); condiments were oil and vinegar and, yes, mayo, because I love the way the two mix.
I asked for it cold, but they toasted it anyway, making this the first toasted Italian combo that I’d ever had. I will say that I think these kinds of meats are better served cold.
As you can see, this was a little different from what you’d expect in this type of grinder. They hollowed out the innards of the bread – something that I’d only ever seen done at the sandwich chain Jimmy John’s, who I used to patronize frequently when I lived in the Midwest. Also, I wouldn’t have minded some salami in there, either additionally or in place of the pepperoni.
The provolone was pretty much indistinguishable, which tends to happen with “giant” grinders unless they make an effort to keep things proportional (Franklin is the only place I’ve seen put on enough cheese by default). The sweet peppers were more noticeable, but still sort of got lost in the shuffle. Combined with the skeletal bread, the overall effect was of eating a delicious, oily, gooey, warm pile of meat. Which is fine in itself – but venerable fixtures like Franklin and Carbone’s have shown me that a giant grinder can be much more.
I was pleased enough with what I got from S&S, but to anyone else considering a visit, my advice would be to thoroughly customize your order if you want to get the most out of them. They have potential, but they just need a little help from you for execution.