The Neapolitan Gourmet (NG) is an Italian deli in Naples, Florida serving, well, Italian
delicacies. It has been in business for 25 years. In my book, this is a very good sign. I had heard really good things about their sandwiches, here known as heroes, and decided to take a look.
NG, open 10:30 AM to 3 PM Monday-Saturday, is suited for the lunch crowd. There are other offerings but more on that later. Their sandwich menu offers heroes, in addition to meats and cheeses.
Being from the Midwest, I have always thought of overstuffed sandwiches on an elongated piece of bread as subs. They can also be known as heroes, hoagies, grinders, and po’boys among other names. There is More To This, which seems to depend on where these sandwiches originated.
As with many food legends, no one knows if they’re really true, but they make interesting fodder for a food blog.
Subs, also known as submarine sandwiches, were thought to be named after a sandwich shop in Connecticut across the street from a naval shipyard and submarine base where they were popular.
Hoagies were thought to be named by a sandwich shop owner in PA, quipping, “you had to be a hog to eat a sandwich this large.”
Grinders were the moniker for this type of sandwich in New England. Perhaps the bread was a bit harder on these sandwiches, known for having to grind your teeth into them to chew them.
Po’ boys purportedly come from the strikers of a massive transportation protest in New Orleans in the early 20th century. Two sandwich shop owners pledged to feed the strikers with sandwiches. You can guess the rest.
Heroes were thought to be named after a column by a food critic from a now-defunct New York City newspaper. The critic, Clementine Paddleworth, noted that a New York City sandwich shop served a sandwich so large that (you guessed it), “you would need to be a hero to eat it.”
The quality of the ingredients are well above most, and the sandwich and antipasto portions are over the top. This is an old-time deli experience imported to Naples from Long Island, NY over 25 years ago. The sandwiches here are amazing. A whole hero at NG will feed, at a minimum, two people handsomely. A light lunch could be consumed by four diners, splitting a hero four ways.
The first time I dined here, I ordered their Italian hero and it was fantastic. It had almost a whole pound of meat on it, consisting of capocollo, mortadella and Genoa salami. It is seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and topped with shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes. Heaven. Here was the weight of this sandwich upon serving (the total price column is the weight, 1.3 pounds)
On a second visit, I tried one of their hot hero sandwiches, the chicken parmesan. This was another hero(ic) sandwich to eat. On a third visit, I ordered the American hero, which had turkey, ham and roast beef on it.
As before, the hero did not disappoint. I barely made it through my first half before disregarding the bread on the second half, eating only the rest of the hero filling. Even this required Herculean effort.
My DC ordered the antipasto plate that included roast beef, mortadella, ham, sun dried tomatoes, in-house-made mozzarella, black and green olives, tomato and shredded lettuce. The dish, a special off-menu item, is perfect for the carbohydrate-averse as my dining companion was, and was very good.
NG also has a number of Prepared Items to go, in addition to a good selection of deli meats and cheeses, as well as in house-made sausages and braciola.
For those with a sweet tooth, a number of Biscotti are available sourced from Doris Italian Market and Bakery on the East coast of Florida. These include fruit, chocolate, almond, anise toast and lady fingers, among others.
From lower left to right are chicken Chevalatta sausage, sweet, hot and sweet (with fennel) Italian sausages, pork chevalatta sausage, and beef and pork Braciole. I had sampled some hot and sweet Italian sausages, in addition to the Auricchio Aged Provolone and Fontina Val d’ Aosta cheeses. The sausages were good, the cheeses even better and highly recommended.
There are many other things available from kitchen staples to prepared dishes to take home. Although I didn’t try most of these, they looked very good.
From my experience at NG, if you want a great hero or antipasto plate, this is the place to go for lunch. I can’t recommend their hero sandwiches enough. You probably won’t get one much better locally.
That’s that for another post on Forks.
5415 Airport Pulling Rd.
Naples, FL 34109
Open Monday-Saturday, 10:30 AM- 3 PM; All major credit cards accepted.