More of a big convenience store than a sit-down eatery, the Shortstop Deli features shelves of snack foods, countless varieties of coffee, and a counter where you order for what is formally known as a Hot Truck Pizza Sub. There are no tables and chairs, just some concrete benches outside the front window where it is possible to bring your wrapped sandwich and your cup of soda and dine al fresco.
The pizza subs are fantastic. Made on loaves of Ithaca Bakery French bread, they range from the basic PMP (Poor Man’s Pizza), which is nothing but bread, sauce, and cheese, to the extravaganza known as a Suicide (garlic, sauce, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella). Each one is piled with its ingredients, then baked open-face until the bread is shatteringly crisp, the cheese bubbles, and the meats sizzle.
These sandwiches, originally served by Bob Petrillose from Johnny’s Pizza Truck starting in 1960, have inspired a language all their own. For example, a Triple Sui, Hot and Heavy, G and G translates as a full Suicide with three extra homemade meatballs, a sprinkle of red pepper, extra garlic, mayonnaise, and lettuce. (G and G = grease and garden, i.e. mayo & lettuce.) An Indy includes link sausage, pepperoni, onion, sauce, and cheese, hot and heavy. A Flaming Turkey Bone Includes chicken breast, tomato sauce, cheese, onions, extra hot and heavy, plus “spontaneous combustion” (double-X hot sauce).
Not only is there a whole dictionary of terms for ordering these sandwiches. Their source itself is so much a part of Ithaca’s culinary culture that regular customers refer to what’s served here not as “Pizza Subs” or “Hot Truck Sandwiches” but simply as “Hot Truck,” as in Let’s go get some Hot Truck or Did you enjoy your Hot Truck? When you think about it, that’s about the highest compliment a Roadfoodie can pay, to make the name of a restaurant into a proper noun for its cuisine.