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At Marco's Italian Deli, Sangwiches are more than sandwiches

Four Marco’s Italian Delis across Buffalo and its Northtowns serve fresh, flavorful Sangwiches. It only made sense, though, to stop by the Hertel Avenue location – in our city’s Italian heart – to try a couple.

A friend and I were pleasantly greeted by the voice of Frank Sinatra and the smell of fresh, warm sesame-seed bread. The place is warm, clean, cozy and in-your-face Italian, with black and white portraits of legends of cinema such as Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino adorning bright red walls.

We were enticed by the inventive specials on the chalkboard, such as the Louis L’Amore (which I assume is a misspelled tribute to famed American novelist Louis L’Amour), made with balsamic turkey, fresh mozzarella and baby greens on a wheat panini ($8.49), and Richie from the Bronx, a beef burger with bacon, grilled onions, mushrooms, muenster and french onion mayo on a kaiser roll ($6.99).

Instead, we opted for two mainstay gourmet Sangwiches: The Big Bird ($9.99) and Barbarino ($8.99).

Lina Mercado displays the Big Bird, one of the signature Sangwiches at Marco's Italian Deli. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

The Big Bird (grilled chicken tenders, bacon, melted mozzarella, lettuce, tomato, red onions, red sweet peppers and chipotle mayo) and a Barbarino (turkey, roast beef, lettuce, red onions, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, mozzarella and mayo) arrived quickly on wax paper in plastic sandwich baskets — and were devoured just as fast. A cannoli, made fresh, was delivered in complementary double.

We were hungry, which helped, but to acclaim these sandwiches as some of the most satisfying sustenance I’ve consumed in my 24 years hardly feels hyperbolic.

The Barbarino had warm, crusty and fluffy sesame bread hugging savory, quality deli meats and fresh, vinegary veggies. Big Bird boasted a decadent flavor combination composed of hot, sweet and salty meats; cool, crunchy veggies; and a hint of heat from chipotle mayo.

Cannoli at Marco's Italian Deli on Hertel Avenue. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

With just enough stomach capacity to put away a top-notch cannoli apiece, we slunk back into metal chairs, satisfied and indulged. The excellent eatery experience served as a reminder that not all deli sandwiches are equal and a realization that a Sangwich is something else entirely; fresher, better, more thoughtful and with heritage.      

I’ll be back soon to sample Sangwiches of the panini variety, like Maria Goumade (turkey, pepperoni, ham, provolone, red sweet peppers, tomatoes, red onions and chili mayo, $8.49) and Dino Martini (grilled chicken, mozzarella, prosciutto and sun-dried tomato basil mayo, $8.99); sides including mac salad, potato salad and coleslaw, and perhaps a one-third-pound burger (three basic varieties; $6.50 to $6.99).

Marco’s Italian Deli

1518 Hertel Ave. (862-9117)

Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Wheelchair accessible: Yes.

Gluten-free options: chef salad ($5.25 small, $6.75 large), antipasto (mix of meats, cheeses and veggies over lettuce; $9.99) and fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes served with olives, onion and basil oil ($7.99).

Parking: Street only.

Check out: Marco’s Italian Deli on Instagram, an active, mouthwatering and funny page.

Marco's Italian Deli on Hertel Avenue. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

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