Like the origin of the moon and widespread reports across the country of a persistent low-frequency humming, one of Earth’s greatest mysteries is the calzone. How do we classify this Naples-born classic? Unless there’s been some botched science, it’s not sandwich. Is a calzone a taco? No. Maybe a calzone is, simply, the world’s most delicious insomnia medication. That might be the right category. The truth is, like a pizza, a calzone is what it is. It is, in itself, a genre. It’s not a sandwich, it’s not a pizza, and it’s not a pizza-sandwich. A pizza sandwich is something else. Something unique.
Nearly 43 years later, the Pizza Sub, Dallas’ long-standing pizza sandwich, still holds a place on the menu at New York Sub. It’s a deep cut — hovering at No. 25 on the original menu above the deli counter — and a hidden gem in Dallas. Early in 2017, the sandwich was treated to an upgrade by New York Sub's new owners.
As usual, Andrew and Edi Kelley are waiting behind the deli counter on a recent visit. The husband-wife team took over the sub shop from Ken Harkness a few short years ago and gave the sandwiches a much-needed reboot. In the early days of New York Sub, a pizza sub got you a slab of melted cheese and Hormel pepperoni alongside a sugary, likely jarred tomato sauce. With a root beer, it was a salty glory with a melted slab of cheese. It worked its magic.
Now, ordering the Kelleys’ upgraded Pizza Sub will land you warm, soft bread and slices of Dietz & Watson pepperoni, thick as a postcard, and sharp provolone fusing into the bread. They shake oregano and Parmesan over the pepperoni. San Marzano tomatoes provide the basis of the light and bright tomato sauce.
It’s best eaten quickly and in the restaurant, while the cheese is warm and fused with the tomato sauce beneath the soft bread. A good pepperoni sandwich means blistered edges and golden oil, each helping this sandwich evoke the memory of a slice of pizza with a cold soda.
As it goes with New York pizza, everyone has their own way of inhaling a pizza sandwich.
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“I love it with the pretzel bread with a side of ranch dressing,” Edi says. “It’s so good.”
For whatever reason that matters, 2019’s National Pizza Week runs through Jan. 19, and it’s a wonderfully arbitrary excuse to reintroduce your mouth to what might be the only pizza sub in DFW. It’s certainly one of the longest-running. Time has done great things to this sandwich. It's aged with the grace of new ingredients. Pepperoni is the rose of the food world: Who doesn't like a nice bouquet of pepperoni?
The upgrade doesn't kill the nostalgia, either. Cold cuts are better when they're a few bucks more, which means you’ll get pepperoni that tastes of spices, not pure salt. Dallas has many pizzerias, a few standing out above the crowd. The best ones have great sandwiches, but there’s nothing like a neighborhood pizza sub.
New York Sub, 3411 Asbury St. (Park Cities)