Photo by Kenzie Hyland
While chains like Potbelly, Jimmy John’s or Mr. Submarine might be familiar and convenient, we wanted to highlight local, independent sub shops in order to support small businesses in the area. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality and service at three local sub shops: Fontano’s in Hinsdale, Alpine in Westchester and Sawmilly in Riverside.
It turns out, our student body knows their subs. Out of the 80 students surveyed, a whopping 80% had been to Fontano’s, 59% had been to Alpine, and 9% had been to Sawmilly. Not surprisingly, 62% said of the three shops, Fontano’s was their favorite, 29% picked Alpine, and the remaining 9% chose Sawmilly as the one they loved most.
Here’s what we thought:
Fontano’s is a family-owned sub shop located in nearby Hinsdale, only 10 minutes away from Nazareth. We have been to this location many times and have never had a bad experience with the food. Their in-person service is typically spot on, but customer service over the phone is sometimes lacking. They seem to be impatient and frequently put their customers on hold, but we are willing to deal with that because the subs are so good.
Of the subs we’ve tried, we concluded that their Turkey and Caputo sandwiches are definitely the best. The Caputo sandwich includes provolone cheese, Genoa salami, pepperoni, and capicola. The meat on both options is very good quality. We ordered lettuce and tomatoes on both sandwiches and believed the vegetables were very fresh.
Saving the best for last, the bread is just amazing. They use French bread from Turano Baking Co. and it is the perfect combination of crunch and softness: crispy on the outside, but soft on the inside.
We also decided to order a cannoli as they are one of Fontano’s specialties. This was our first time trying cannolis and it was definitely a good experience. The shell was very crunchy and the mascarpone and pistachios inside were very flavorful.
An 8-inch sub costs $9.70. We believe that is a little pricey, but they do pack the sandwiches well. One cannoli costs $3.70.
Fontano’s Subs – 9 S Lincoln St, Hinsdale (630) 789-0891. Open everyday with exceptions of holidays from 10 am – 4 pm.
Alpine Food Shop, located in Westchester, is also family owned and operated. They have delivery and take-out availability along with catering options. The shop was a little busy when we visited, but they had enough staff to help everyone in an orderly way. The customer service was great and they worked hard to get us our food quickly as well.
The sandwiches were fresh and the staff was friendly. We ordered “The Alpine” sandwich which includes ham, salami, capicollo, and provolone cheese. We added lettuce, mayonnaise, and tomato as well. The bread was perfectly crunchy, but still fresh and soft enough to eat without making a big mess. The meat within the sandwich was very flavorful as well.
The biggest problem with the sandwich was that there was not enough lettuce. We also requested no cheese and tomatoes, but the sub came with both. It didn’t totally ruin our order, but it was inconvenient to pick off the items.
The sandwiches were well priced and affordable at $6.99 for a 9-inch sub.
Alpine Food Shop – 10712 W. 31st Street, Westchester (708) 483-6171. Closed on Mondays, open 10 am – 4 pm on Tuesday thru Saturday, and 10 am – 2 pm on Sunday.
Lastly, Sawmilly Sandwich Shoppe is located in Riverside in the same building as The Chew Chew, another local restaurant that Sawmilly refers to as their “sister restaurant.” Sawmilly was an excellent experience. The workers were all friendly and helped us with our order when we misread the menu. Their menu serves a variety of options from different meats to vegetarian choices and seafood sandwiches too.
Everything about our turkey sandwich was great. The meat and lettuce were fresh and the sandwich ingredients were all layered proportionally. They were a little heavy on the mayonnaise, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying it. The bread was toasted which was a different experience that the other shops didn’t offer. The toasted bread made all the difference in making the sandwich taste fresh. While the sandwich was amazing, we believed the best part of their menu was the chips and signature dip. The chips were homemade and so was the specialty onion dip. This sub shop offered sides such as coleslaw, potato salad, and zucchini pickles, too.
Their 8-inch sandwich was priced at an affordable $8.49.
Sawmilly Sandwich Shoppe – 35 E Burlington St, Riverside (708) 447-8781. Closed on Sundays, open 11 am – 3 pm for the rest of the week.
After lots of sub tasting and testing, we decided that our favorite was Sawmilly! They had the best customer service, variety in menu, freshest ingredients, and personal touches like toasted bread and homemade sides that tied the meal together. The other options had great qualities too, but Sawmilly stood out to us as the best sub shop in our local area. Based on survey results, we know Sawmilly is not a part of your sandwich repertoire, so we urge readers to go to Riverside and taste for yourself!