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What Makes An Italian Sub Sandwich The Best?

Far Away Foodie Friday

MEGapick-Cousin’s Italian Sub  Sandwich.  Available in Wisconsin, Chicagoland, Arizona.

Carrying the genetic trait of fiercely proud Wisconsinite often results in my trying to explain my standards. So, let’s go to Wisconsin, Belgium, Netherlands, and Germany today to document what is truly great about my favorite Italian sub sandwich.  I get that I am not including Italy, and yes, I have been to Italy, bear with me.

Always on the hunt for the best foods on the planet, I pay homage to my hometown and state with this blog on my life-long love affair with this Italian transplant. This blog is necessary as a point of reference for my blogs in which I refer to this sandwich and establishment.


Cousins subs since 1972

True story, I visited this sub shop in my hometown since it opened in the 1970s. I was a kid and would save my money, ride my bike to our downtown area to buy what was then called “The Italian Special.” The menu was large and since the 1970’s I only once ate a different sub there. It’s not that I need to see a psychiatrist about this disorder, I just really love that sub. Every Italian sub that I eat compares to this one sub.

This is a tough disorder to have but once I started food blogging and considered why this sandwich was above all others? it made more sense to me. After opening up shop in 1972, the East Coast Milwaukee transplants partnered with a baker to create this unique bread recipe and the motto of this establishment “Better Bread, Better Subs” was born.

“We Believe in Better.” And “Local At Heart,”

Although the mottos are now all-encompassing in the descriptions of the locally sourced house-sliced heritage meats, Wisconsin cheese, and fresh vegetables, and commitment to a community,

 it is still this Italian bread which is house baked several times per day, that is the soul of their many sandwiches.

This bread reminds me of the sandwich breads that I eat in some of Europe’s “fast food” sandwich markets. This one was in downtown Munich and I am happiest when I eat these foods.  Give me this over a 5-star restaurant any day. The bread pictured on the lower left compares to the Cousin’s sub sandwich bread.  It also compares to the craft meats, crisp local vegetables, and that fresh cheese.


Pretzel with cream cheese and veggie sandwich on perfect bread/Brot

So, that a baker in 1972 Milwaukee would bring craft bread to these sub shop guys,  is no surprise. Milwaukee was a melting pot of Europeans bringing their Italian foods and bakeries, along with the highest percentage of German immigrants than any other state in the nation, those Semmel style buns with just the right texture, crunch, and softness, it is a standard that is still in practice today and one that I will forever miss living away from my home state.

Here in the United States, these bakeries, artisan meats, and pure cheeses are a disappearing way of life.  Which is why most delis serve meats that one could get at your large grocery chains. Boars head may be good,  but it does not compare to the disappearing craft cold sausage cuts and pure fresh cheese.  Let me show you the contrast between local foods and our Supermarket chains with pre-packaged meats and cheeses.

The way of life, shop from the sources,  the farmer’s market.


Farmer’s Market on the square in Brugge, Belgium

Want fresh hand-crafted cold cuts from an old family recipe which can be purchased in the amount that you want, not filled with preservatives, and not wrapped in wasteful packaging?


Specialty cold meats in Bruges, Belgium

Fresh dairy, cheese, and loaves of bread?  No problem.


Dairy stands fresh from the farm at Grote market, Brugges, Belgium.


Cheese galore at a Europen market in the Netherlands

With that standard in mind, let me apply this to The Italian Sub Sandwiches that one might find in the USA, a tale to compare two sandwiches.  This Italian sub although higher quality than it’s chain counterparts,


Monster Subs Italian Sub Spartanburg, SC

didn’t quite have that special bread and those craft meats; 7.5 inches of Cappacolla ham, Coteghino Bologna, Genoa Salami, Provolone cheese, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, salt, oregano.


Cousins Italian Special and the Italian love of my life. Better Bread, Better Sub.

Perfection. When you think of how convenience and choice have given those in the USA such variety, it also has, for the most part, removed the people, the craftsman, the farmers.  Even in my home state, a family farm disappears every day.  Recently, I sent my young adult children to the old-school craft meat market in my home town, and they thought it was gross.    But, there is time for them to have a sub sandwich and for years thereafter to consider just what sets that sandwich apart from all others.

Do support your local farmers and those people in the restaurant industry who appreciate high quality, locally sourced food.

The buzzkill, I am on a 1200-1400 mg per day sodium intake.  This sub sandwich contains 2090 mg of sodium, I still eat them but now have to plan accordingly.

Thanks for following me on this sandwich reference read,







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