Jon Marantz wanted a certain type of sandwich he used to enjoy, but couldn't find in Buffalo. The result was a small University Heights restaurant called, appropriately enough, Sandwich Envy.
"In Toronto, a certain type of hot sandwich, often made with chicken, veal or pork, is very popular," Marantz said. "I didn’t see them here, and started making them myself, and people liked them."
Located at 3171 Main St., in the former Eddie's Chophouse space, it's a counter-service place with a few tables for diners, and a few more outside in a patio space. Sandwich Envy's flagship offering is a pork cutlet that's been pounded out, crumbed and fried to order. In this country, similar sandwiches are associated with the Midwest, especially Indiana and Iowa.
The standard American version is topped like a hamburger, with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and mustard, for $6.25. The crispy expanse of pork is more than twice the size of the toasted Constanzo's roll it's set on. Crunchy at the edges but still tender inside, tasting of pork and not just fried crumbs, it's a well-executed cutlet.
For another 50 cents, customers can get the Italian version, which adds marinara, provolone, and sautéed sweet peppers or jalapeno, and comes with an auxiliary cup of tomato sauce, for more sauciness.
A marinated-then-grilled chicken breast also comes American ($6.75) or Italian style ($7.75).
Marantz is rolling and baking his own meatballs for the meatball sub ($6.75-$9.75). "People really like them, and there's no magic to it," he said, "we just don’t use frozen ones." The medium-gauge orbs provide enough beefiness to stand up to the cheese and marinara.
A bacon-wrapped meatloaf ($6.75) comes with a dunking cup of beef gravy. The highest-rolling menu item is the grilled strip steak sandwich ($13.95), topped with provolone, mushrooms and onions. The half-inch thick cut of medium-rare beef, robustly seasoned with pepper and salt, was tender enough to eat without wishing for a steak knife.
Vegetarians have a breaded eggplant sub with marinara and provolone ($6.75-$9.75) and a grilled veggie sandwich packing eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and asparagus, as well as onions, mushrooms and peppers ($5.75).
Sandwich Envy also offers a housemade soup ($3.25), from a rotating cast, like the creamy potato-leek available last week.
The sole dessert choice carries on the sandwich motif, with a slab of vanilla ice cream between two warm waffles ($3.75), with chocolate, strawberry, maple or caramel sauce.
Marantz decided to open a sandwich shop after a career managing recycling facilities. He briefly operated a sandwich restaurant in Syracuse a decade ago. That experience that taught him a lot, he said, without curdling his dream of operating a successful little place.
"I am not by any means a professional chef," he said. "I'm just a hard-working cook."
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday. Phone: 436-4491.
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