You haven’t really been to Boston unless you go to the North End and eat a spuckie sandwich from one of the old-school Italian bakeries. There are many names for and variations of the Italian sandwich across the U.S., and this is one of my all-time favorites.
In this blog post, I’m going to share what a spuckie sandwich is, share an original recipe so that you make one at home, and curate some of Bostonians’ top recommendations for where to grab one the next time you happen to be in town.
Continue reading if I’ve got you curious.
Spuckie Sandwich Recipe
The spuckie sandwich is how Bostonians call their local variety of the Italian sandwich. The spuckie is built inside a long and pointed Italian bread roll called spucadella. It’s made with cured meat, sliced cheese, fresh salad, and olive oil or vinaigrette.
To make a spuckie sandwich, you’re going to need a freshly baked Italian bread roll (known as spucadella), fennel salami, hot capicola, mortadella, fresh mozzarella, and salad made from lettuce, carrots, olives, and olive oil.
- Shred the lettuce into long 1/8-inch thick pieces. Peel and cut the carrots, slicing them lengthwise into thin pieces.
- Pit the olives and mix into a fresh salad. You can optionally dress the salad with sea salt, extra-virgin olive oil, and apple cider vinegar.
- Open the spucadella bread roll by cutting it lengthwise using a sharp knife.
- Brush the insides with extra-virgin olive oil (check out my olive oil buyer’s guide, called “How to choose olive oil for home cooking?”).
- Tear the fresh mozzarella into small and thin chunks by hand.
- Layer the Italian cured meats and mozzarella to build the spuckie sandwich.
- Add the fresh salad.
You can either serve the sandwich fresh if you want to get the squeakiness of the mozzarella and crunch of the salad, or press it for 4-5 minutes in a sandwich grill to let the cheese melt and the salad blend with the meat.
Why Is It Called “Spuckie?”
The name of the spuckie sandwich comes from spucadella, an Italian-American bread roll with a long and pointed shape. Spucadella is made at some of the Italian bakeries in the North End neighborhood in Boston, MA, as well as the city of Somerville, MA.
Nowadays, fewer and fewer Bostonians use the term “spuckie.” This is because new generations don’t really know what it means and where it comes from. Instead, most refer to the Italian sandwich with its more popular names in the U.S., like sub sandwich and hero sandwich.
Check out this blog post to learn more about the difference between a spuckie, sub, hero, hoagie, grinder, and wedge.
Best Places to Get a Spuckie in Boston
If you’re in Boston and you’re looking for the best place to get a spuckie sandwich, ask the locals. They always know best. Here’s what Bostonians are saying in a thread called “Best Italian sandwich in Boston?” on Chowhound.
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, says a local on Chowhound. 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.
- 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
Featured image by Erin on Flickr.