“Olive’s” in Soho has been impressing foodies since it opened in 1992, and continues to see lines out the door during the local lunch rush. Named after the owner’s Portugese water dog, their selection of freshly made sandwiches and salads keeps people coming back for more once they have had their first bite.
Even though there are not a ton of sandwiches to choose from, eight in most cases, I had a tough time deciding which one to try. It all became clear when I noticed what seemed to be the most popular sandwich, the “Olive’s Hero”. Why is it such a fan-favorite? It could be because it’s just that damn good.
The aptly named “Olive’s Hero” contains a medley of Italian meats including coppa and Genoa salami, slices of sharp aged provolone, marinated onions, romaine lettuce and tomatoes on fresh sourdough bread, slathered in their olive tapenade. Make your puns about the ingredients being a mouthful to say and get them out of the way now, I won’t tolerate them later in this blog (unless I am the one making them). At first glance, I thought this sandwich was on the smaller side. In reality, this thing turned out to be a dense brick of many flavors.
I think the first rule of Italian cooking is, “If you can make it look like the Italian flag, make it look like the Italian flag.” This hero is proof positive of that, with its vibrant layers stacked and squashed into the gorgeous image you see above. It’s a perfectly balanced sandwich, with every taste melding together harmoniously. From the fatty and somewhat spicy meat, the piquant cheese, tangy tapenade, sweet onions, and cool tomato and lettuce, each flavor augments and contrasts the next. The sourdough bread (which is square and not elongated like your typical hero) holds up well to the ingredients to the last bite, sturdy with just the right amount of absorbency.
The “Olive’s Hero” is an amazing sandwich, one that has to be tried to be appreciated. It’s a hero with some big flavors that manage to blend together and stand out, never overpowering each other, and making for one completely satisfying experience. If you can not make it to the restaurant but live or work near them, they do deliver to quite a far distance including Tribeca, Chinatown, Little Italy, the West & East Village (excluding Alphabet City), and a few other places in between. “Olive’s” is worth the trek, and buy yourself a dessert to go with it. Their dessert menu changes daily, including Strawberry Shortcake, scones, and cakes, but you can always grab a tasty cookie or brownie if you are in a rush.
“Olive’s” is located at 120 Prince St. in downtown Manhattan, NYC.