Here is my third dispatch from the land of sandwiches. I've been exploring new sandwich shops in Tacoma and Bonney Lake. Have a new sandwich shop you want me to scope for you? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sept. 25: Jimmy John's in Tacoma
Sept. 29: Jersey Mike's in Bonney Lake
Today: Puccini's Venetian Subs in Bonney Lake
Thursday: Midtown Deli & Espresso in Tacoma
Now for today's offering: Puccini's Venetian Subs
The scoop: What? Have I stumbled into Subway? I thought this restaurant was an independently owned outfit? Or at least that's the assumption I made after the way the food was described to me by a reader who phoned in about it. It sounded like a mom-and-pop op. On the surface, it looks all plain and chain. But look below, and you find interesting ingredients and a very non-chain (and very labor intensive) grill that is center stage on the sandwich counter. So what about the chain look? For the record, it is a chain from Italy, but this is the first American location. It opened three months ago. More corporate-owned Puccini's are planned for Lacey, South Hill and Olympia.
Bread choices: White, wheat, cheesy and French, Venetian and rye.
Grill me! Yes, indeed, you get to watch your sandwich meat grilled to order right in front of you. It's stunning proof, this is not microwaved meat. I love non-microwaved meat.
We ate: Son of this here Food Editor ordered about the most basic thing one can get: a kids meal turkey and cheese sandwich with mayo, hold the veggies please ($4.29). It came with his choice of a cookie (chocolate chip or white chocolate macadamia nut) and a beverage. Mom alert: this is a big sandwich, which makes it a bargain. I tucked the other half of his uneaten sandwich into his lunch bag the next day.
I opted for the Philly Cheesesteak ($5.99) and YUM, what a great choice. I watched as the grill guy threw down two slabs of raw beef that he hand chopped with spatulas, and grilled with mushrooms, green peppers and onions and a healthy spoon of garlic. He kept asking me what I wanted, then rattled off a list of add-ins. First, it was cherry peppers (not hot at all), then he seasoned with oregano, a sprinkle of basil and rosemary and paprika. He asked me if I liked spicy. I said yes, he dusted it with a bit of cayenne. Then he scooped the big pile of meat and veggies onto cheesy bread with Swiss cheese and a squirt of steak sauce and garlic mayo and a squeeze of fresh lime. Yum. Philly heaven.
The verdict: Get yourself there for the Philly. Ask for extra peppers and garlic and don't skip the squeeze of lime. Don't say no to the extras.
Menu highlights: All 12-inch subs are $5.99. Anchoring the menu are Hot pastrami, Far East Teriyaki, a Puccini's Melt (with turkey, ham and bacon), a Tuscany (pepperoni and salami) and Earl's Roast Beef. Vegheads and pescetarians have lots of choices: a veggie patty sandwich, grilled salmon patty sandwich, grilled cod sandwich and crab sandwich, just a few offerings.
Next time: You'll find me munching down on an Italian Meatball or Hot Pastrami.
Puccini's Venetian Subs
Where: 21241 Hwy 410 E., Bonney Lake; 253-299-6254.
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily