You can’t truly claim to have experienced Boston until you’ve ventured into the vibrant North End and savored a mouthwatering spuckie sandwich from one of its cherished, time-honored Italian bakeries.
This iconic Italian delight takes on various names and forms across the United States. But let me tell you, the spuckie holds a special place in my heart.
Join me as I spill the beans on Boston’s best-kept secret—the spuckie sandwich—and unveil an original recipe that will empower you to recreate this culinary gem in the comfort of your own home.
Spuckie Sandwich Recipe
In Boston, the local rendition of the Italian sandwich goes by the name of the spuckie.
Nestled within a distinctive, elongated, and pointed Italian bread roll known as spucadella, the spuckie takes shape with a delightful medley of cured meats, sliced cheese, vibrant salad fixings, and a drizzle of either olive oil or zesty vinaigrette.
Crafting your very own spuckie sandwich requires a handful of key ingredients.
Firstly, seek out a freshly baked spucadella, the foundation of this culinary masterpiece.
Next, gather fennel salami, hot capicola, mortadella, fresh mozzarella, and assemble a crisp salad featuring lettuce, carrots, olives, all generously dressed with luscious olive oil.
Here’s how it goes:
Shred the lettuce into long and slender pieces approximately 1/8-inch thick. As for the carrots, peel them and slice them lengthwise, thinly.
For a burst of tang, pit the olives and combine them with the crisp salad. And for an added touch, consider drizzling sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and a splash of apple cider vinegar over the salad medley.
Now, it’s time to tackle the spucadella bread roll.
Carefully open the spucadella lengthwise, using a sharp knife to create a clean cut.
Once the roll is exposed, take a moment to brush the insides with a generous coating of extra-virgin olive oil, allowing it to infuse with the bread’s fluffy, cloud-like texture.
To best complement the symphony of flavors, tear the fresh mozzarella into small, delicate chunks using your hands. These will serve as a delightful layer amidst the Italian cured meats, creating a harmonious blend of textures and tastes.
With the stage set, begin assembling your spuckie sandwich.
Layer the Italian cured meats alongside the mozzarella, building a delectable foundation for the upcoming crescendo of flavors.
To complete this Bostonian masterpiece, generously crown your creation with the vibrant fresh salad, adding that refreshing touch that elevates the spuckie to new heights.
Once your spuckie sandwich is meticulously constructed, you have the option to eat it fresh, savoring the squeaky mozzarella and crisp salad. Alternatively, for those seeking a slightly different experience, consider pressing the sandwich for a brief period.
Should you choose to indulge in a warm, melty version of the spuckie, place it in a sandwich grill and apply a gentle pressure for approximately 4-5 minutes. This short interlude allows the cheese to melt gracefully while enabling the flavors of the salad to harmoniously meld with the savory meats.
Whether you opt for the fresh and vibrant rendition or embrace the tantalizing allure of a warm, pressed spuckie, prepare to embark on a culinary adventure that captures the essence of Boston’s iconic sandwich.
Why Is It Called “Spuckie?”
The name of the spuckie sandwich finds its roots in the spucadella, denoting the distinctively shaped Italian-American bread roll.
Local bakeries in Boston’s North End neighborhood, as well as the city of Somerville, MA, proudly produce these delightful spucadellas, ensuring the authenticity of this beloved sandwich.
These days, however, the usage of the term “spuckie” among Bostonians has gradually waned. This decline can be attributed to the younger generations’ unfamiliarity with its origin and significance.
Instead, the Italian sandwich has seamlessly integrated into the broader lexicon of American culinary culture, assuming more commonly recognized names such as “sub sandwich” or “hero sandwich.”
For a deeper exploration of sub-sandwich semantics, I invite you to delve into our guide to the differences between a spuckie, sub, hero, hoagie, grinder, and wedge.
Best Places to Get a Spuckie in Boston
When it comes to seeking out the ultimate destination for an authentic spuckie sandwich in Boston, there’s no better source of wisdom than the locals themselves. After all, they have a wealth of firsthand knowledge and insider tips.
To provide you with a taste of their expertise, we turn to the vibrant online community of Chowhound, where a thread titled “Best Italian sandwich in Boston?” has sparked a heated discussion among passionate Bostonians.
One local recommends the Big Ragu sandwich at Hot Tomatoes on North St. in the North End neighborhood of Boston. “They have a really nice selection of cold cuts,” they say, “including prosciutto, capitol, genoa salami, mortadella, provolone, and hot tomato vinaigrette,” all of which go great on an Italian bread roll.
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, Hot Tomatoes on North St. is now permanently closed. But we’re keeping this local’s tips here in case they decide to reopen in the future.
Another local’s favorite is Bob’s Italian Foods in Medford. The atmosphere is lively, they add. They have a sub counter in the back of the market and a deli with delicious prepared foods.
The third favorite is Tutti Italiano in Wellesley. One thing that locals really like is how they slice their lettuce on the deli slicer to get REALLY thin slices. They have a second location in Lexington.
Both Bob’s Italian Foods in Medford and Tutti Italiano in Wellesley are rated close to 5 stars on Google by hundreds of customers. If you’re visiting Boston and looking to grab an original bite, take these locals up on their tips and pay these restaurants a visit.
How to Make a Spuckie Sandwich at Home: Recipe
- Cutting board
- Sandwich grill (optional)
- 1 loaf freshly-baked Italian bread roll (locally known as spucadella)
- 25 grams fennel salami
- 25 grams hot capicola
- 25 grams mortadella
- 1 pack fresh mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 pieces carrots
- ¼ piece Iceberg lettuce
- 1 can Italian mixed olives (any jar/can of mixed olives will do)
Make the fresh salad
- Shred ¼ of the lettuce into ⅛-inch thick shreds
- Peel 1-2 carrots and slice them into long and thin slices
- Pit the olives and make sure no stones are left
- Mix into a fresh salad, season to taste
Make the spuckie sandwich
- Slice open the Italian bread roll lengthwise with a sharp knife
- Brush the insides with extra-virgin olive oil
- Layer the fennel salami, hot capicola, and mortadella meats
- Tear the fresh mozzarella by hand into small chunks and layer on top of the sandwich
- Add some of the fresh salad to your spuckie and close the sandwich
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