Dish Buzz: Defonte’s

Defones, Gramercy
Defone's, Gramercy

I’ve still yet to go to the original restaurant in Brooklyn, but I recently made my second trip to Defonte’s in Gramercy. Rather, I should say I had their food for the second time since the first time it came my way via delivery. While it was still quite good delivered, it’s hard to beat the warmth of the fresh sandwich coming off of the line paired with the experience of watching the meat being sliced by hand.

Hot Roast Beef, Defontes
Hot Roast Beef, Defonte's

Still, I think I’m not quite sold yet on this particular style of sandwich. The first time I went in, I went with the #20, their “Hot Roast Beef”, which I’d read was one of their staples. It was made up of roast beef, fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, and natural jus. I love fresh cheese, and thought the house-made fresh mozzarella was impressively creamy. However, even with the jus and the fried eggplant, I still found the sandwich was missing some necessary zing. It was a bit, dare I say, bland? One of the downsides to delivery is that you cannot go back to opt in for the addition of Nicky’s Famous Hot Salad. But in person you can … it’s only $1.50 so do it. It’s oh-so-worth-it and makes all the difference in the world.

Another problem with the sandwiches?  They’re massive, with no option to downsize; no half-sized portions or small, medium, and large varieties. $9.95 for the #20 might not break the bank, but I think I’d be more inclined to go more frequently if there were a less bulky option.

Slicing the Turkey, Defontes
Slicing the Turkey, Defonte's

For my next visit, I went with the #25, their “Hot Turkey”. This included freshly sliced roast turkey, swiss, fried eggplant, and natural jus. Notice a common element to their sandwiches? Yes, they do oh so love that fried eggplant. If you’ve never been there before, it’s an interesting component. Subtle. You almost really don’t notice it. It adds a bit of a sweet, salty flavor to the sandwich and aside from that, almost blends in, lost in the midst of, well, the jus and such. This might be sacrilegious, but I’d recommend turkey over roast beef. Again though, there’s enough in this sandwich for three meals. The amount of meat is a bit intimidating.

If you’ve never been, it’s definitely worth checking out as it’s such a local spot (even if the Gramercy outpost is a new arrival and not an idea embraced by some aficionados of the Brooklyn locale). I’ll probably be back at some point. More likely (hint, hint) if the restaurant ever embraced a less massive sandwich option. If so, call me!

Defonte’s – 261 3rd Avenue (at 21st Street) – 212-614-1500

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