As subjective tasks go, determining the best place to eat in the city is a toughie. There are so many factors to consider: atmosphere (who’s sitting at the table over?), location (do we really have to go all the way to the Upper East Side?), and of course cost (sorry… $13 for six artfully arranged spears of asparagus? That one’s for you, Pulino’s).
You could try parsing all these factors and factoring them into a complicated algorithm, or… you could check out Yelp’s top-rated grub joints, and let the chips fall where they may.
As fans of the latter option, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that one of Williamsburg’s own, a butcher/deli humbly (yet descriptively) called Graham Avenue Meats and Deli, currently holds the number one spot as best-rated restaurant in Manhattan and the five boroughs. Located on 445 Graham Avenue, between Frost and Richardson Streets, this unassuming deli made a name for itself by serving up sandwiches that Yelpers describe as follows:
“Eating the Godfather sandwich from this place is like staring into the face of God and having him say back to you, ‘you are my most wondrous creation,’” [Mike D.]… “So transcendent that I’m not sure you can call it a sandwich; the only word that can do it justice is ‘masterpiece,’” [Peter D.]… “The Bruce Willis of sandwiches. It will ninja kick your stomach, it will fight terrorists, it will reunite your family and cure your lingering toe fungus… This sandwich will cuddle you on Saturday evenings… for $8 this sandwich will have sex with your stomach.” [Mike G.]
With so many New Yorkers eating this local deli’s special sauce, we felt obliged to do some investigating. What makes Graham Avenue Meats and Deli’s sandwiches so spectacular?
“A lot of love,” says owner Michael Virtuoso, who moved a few blocks away – to Jackson Street – when he emigrated to the US from Italy at the age of 11. Virtuoso, who says he’ll “eat whatever’s got a flag on it,” isn’t shy about sharing his passion for Italian meat. The ingredients for the deli’s best-known sandwich – the Willie Special – roll off Virtuoso’s lips like the names of beloved children. “It’s got sopressata, prosciutto, pancetta, imported provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, roasted peppers, sundried tomatoes…” the list continues.
“But the thing is, it’s never exactly the same. We’re always changing it – we like to keep it interesting. But what is consistent is the quality. That will never change.”
So there you have it, folks. The secret to the best sandwich in Williamsburg – and, according to Yelp at least – the best meal in the whole goddamn city.