You know it's nearly summer in Maine when tourists are picking at their lobsters, while we natives are content with pushing the Maine Italian sandwich down our gullets. So without further ado, a brief synopsis of the offerings of Westbrook's Northside Italian-makers:
(Note on Methodology: Considering my waist is burgeoning, and my wallet is becoming more slender--certainly two trends that are universally desired to be inverse--I ordered a small variation of each sandwich with salt, pepper, and oil. And the accompanying prices are for a small and large, respectively.)
125 Bridgton Road
$3.25, $4.35 (plus tax)
Balanced presentation, though it could've used more black olives. Third-best among the crop, in this modest reviewer's opinion.
186 Bridge Street
$3.50, $4.25 (plus tax)
Too many black olives! Nevertheless, it was the fullest sandwich even when considered sans olives. Kudos also for the long slivers of sour pickle. Second-best, as it contained the second-greatest amount of zest--once I scaped away the mound of palette-dulling olives.
206 Brown Street
If you're into quartered pickles that are more appropriate for McDonald hamburgers than Italians, this sandwich is for you. That, and if you like a less than ho-hum sample of this Mainer delicacy. Fifth-best.
Rivers Edge Deli
57 Bridge Street
$2.50, $3.39 (tax included)
Slightly better than Olivia's fare. Personally not a big fan of chopped pickles. So fourth-best.
300 Cumberland Street
$2.15, $3.25 (plus tax)
My favorite of the bunch: Kudos for the kalamata olives and the dark, strong-bodied ham, which set it apart from the competition in which there is little room for variation (i.e., a strict adherence to the ingredients of this Maine classic calls for only American cheese, ham, tomato, pickle, green pepper, onion, salt, pepper, and oil.)
A review of Westbrook's Southside Italian-makers will be forthcoming once I've gotten over engulfing about five small Italian sandwiches in less than an hour.
- John C.L. Morgan