Can a sandwich bread be transcendent? At a modest St. Paul sandwich shop, it certainly is. The team behind my current favorite restaurant in town, Estelle, opened Mario’s and brought in one of the masters of dough to oversee the kitchen.
Evan Vranian toured sandwich shops in New York to home in on the perfect Italian white sesame seed bread. It’s crispy outside, airy inside, and dense enough to hold up a series of impressive sandwiches ($14).
The turkey/broccolini is a winner; spicy giardiniera punctuates the classic Italian combo of mortadella, soppressata, and salami. Vranian also crafts a pan pizza dough with just enough crunch, and a red sauce with just enough zip to make you feel like you’re in Jersey.
There’s lots of sausage and pepperoni here ($22), but there’s also a great artichoke pizza to satisfy your vegetarian friends ($23).
Salads? Don’t overthink it—get one.
A solid beer selection and an above-average wine list, plus plenty of seating, also make Mario’s a terrific addition near the border of the Twin Cities.
232 Cleveland Ave. N., St. Paul, mariosstp.com