The Best Thing I Ate This Week

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A.L.C Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge is modeled after old school salumerias like D. Coluccio and Sons in Bensonhurst, that used to dot the South Brooklyn landscape and serve as gathering points for locals picking up their weekly provisions of air-dried salami. That’s because it’s run by Louis Coluccio, the son/grandson of those original Coluccio’s, who manages to retain the spirit of the original — feisty Sicilian nonna’s can haggle over the price of imported San Marzano tomatoes and fat-capped guanciale — while still providing safe haven to local/seasonal fanatics (the coffee is Intelligentsia, and reliable suppliers include Salvatore BKLYN, Bien Cuit, and Brooklyn Cured.)

In the hands of consulting chef Michael Kogan, a revolving stable of prepared foods are similarly refined, without being too off-puttingly nouvelle or unfamiliar. Best sellers include bucatini pie, veal and pork polpette, and orange and herb-stuffed porchetta…which can also be sliced and layered into a formidable sandwich called the Pork Ridge II, along with crucola cheese and n’duja, a spicy sausage spread.

There are eight other equally delicious sandwiches in the rotation as well, including the Ava (imported yellowfin tuna, kalamata olives, and wild arugula), the Valentina (fresh mozzarella, oven roasted tomatoes, bibb lettuce, house pesto, and prosciutto di parma), and the A.L.C. Ham & Cheese (Parmacotto Tuscan grilled ham, asiago fresco, and Urbani porcini mushroom cream.) But our favorite just might be the one purely vegetarian sandwich, which happily, far exceeds the standard, sorry assemblage of roasted peppers, undercooked onions, and tasteless slices of sad, grilled zucchini.

It’s actually the heftiest feed of the bunch, containing fat florets of roasted broccoflower, garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, a smattering of capers, and a thick schmear of homemade ricotta cheese. And there’s just enough good balsamic vinegar added to cut through the richness, without reducing the sandwich to a soggy heap of acrid mush.

It’s one of the best things on bread you’ll find in Bay Ridge, and the neighborhood already has some pretty respectable options — at places like Paneantico, David’s Brisket House, and Tanoreen. At $8, it’s also a crazy steal (most expensive is that Pork Ridge, still a highly affordable $10), and comes packed in a reusable plastic container. We’re officially throwing out our stash of Chinese takeaway boxes smeared with brown sauce…a sandwich at A.L.C is the gift that keeps on giving.

8613 3rd Ave, (718) 836-3200

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