The housemade mozzarella is just the beginning of the treats at the unassuming Charlie’s Sandwich Shop, open on Third Avenue since early December, 2016.
The small store — which functions, amazingly, without a full kitchen — is a treasure trove of overstuffed sandwiches and homemade salads, presided over by Charlie Bellomo, who got his reputation as a “Sandwich Guy” during his years down the block at Artisan.
“Everyone came to me for sandwiches,” Bellomo recalled. “I know how to treat customers the right way.”
Upon Artisan’s closing, Bellomo made the momentous decision to open up his own place, taking his sandwich magic with him, and adding to it an extensive repertoire of side dishes all made on premises, which, he noted, has the atmosphere of “an old-time deli.”
I had the opportunity to sample one of Charlie’s specialties, the How You Doin’, which features fried chicken cutlet adorned with slabs of house-roasted red peppers and the very flavorful fresh mozzarella that is also available to customers by the pound ($7.99), finished with a balsamic glaze.
The sandwich, which I consumed on ciabatta ($10.50) is huge and flavorful — and, yes, I took half of it to go; the hero version ($12.50) is astonishingly even larger. The bread, which comes from Villabate on 18th Avenue, is chewy and satisfying. The balsamic glaze adds a sweet counterpoint to the slight saltiness of the cheese, whose soft, but firm texture itself balances out the crispy fried chicken.
I also tried a selection of house-made side dishes, and was particularly taken with the pleasantly tart marinated mushrooms ($7.99/pound) and the mixed olives ($7.99/pound), a combination of Gaeta, Kalamata, Cerignola and other olives spiked with parsley, garlic, oregano and olive oil.
For Bellomo, it’s a point of pride that he manages to make so many things from scratch with such limited equipment. That includes not only the mozzarella and the roasted peppers, but also marinara sauce and chewy, sweet sundried tomatoes (the latter also available for $7.99/pound).
Not surprisingly, Bellomo comes from a family of cooks.His dad had a pizza place in Manhattan and taught him how to make his special Meatball Parm hero.
Overall, Bellomo said he learned to cook at the side of both parents, after emigrating to Brooklyn from Sicily in 1998, working in his father’s pizzeria and getting not only a culinary education but a businessperson’s education as well.
They’re both in evidence in his cozy shop which, new as it is, seems to fit just perfectly into the neighborhood.
Charlie’s Sandwich Shop
9216 Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Free delivery with $10 minimum in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights