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Pauli’s In The North End featured on Phantom Gourmet

Paul Barker is the hero of heroes, the savant of sandwiches, the guru of grinders.

“Sandwiches are my passion. It’s what I do. I love my wife and my kids, but I love sandwiches.”

At Pauli’s in Boston’s North End, he has come up with some crazy concoctions.

“We’ll make anything into a sandwich. Whatever you want – we’ll sandwichcize that. I don’t know if that’s a word, but we’ll put that into a sandwich.”

This sandwich spot may be small, but Pauli’s pumps out dozens of mouthwatering grinders that you probably can’t find at your average sub shop.

“What we do with sandwiches, we just take it up a notch. We try to do things that are unique and different, and most of all tasty.”

Night and day, Paul obsesses over his sandwiches, trying to come up with the next big thing to put on a bun.

“I love to get up in the morning and say, ‘Let’s come up with something different. Let’s come up with a new idea. Let’s come up with something that’s just off the wall.’”

With so many sandwiches being invented on a daily basis, there’s almost too much to choose from.

“We have so many different varieties and so many great sandwiches that people get mesmerized. They don’t know what to pick,” Paul said. “But once they get a sandwich, they get hooked on that sandwich and they’ll have that sandwich over and over again.”

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Phantom Gourmet: Great 8 Steak & Cheese

February 21, 2019 / 8:43 AM EST / CBS Boston

Nothing makes Phantom smile like sizzling steak stuffed into a sub roll and slathered with cheese. These are the 8 Greatest steak and cheeses Phantom has ever found.

Carl's Steak Subs Waltham

Kicking off the Great 8 is Carl's Steak Subs in Waltham. Here, they serve larger than life, one-pound steak sandwiches in crazy creative forms. There is the Carl's Steak Special loaded up with peppers, onions, mushrooms and sausage; or the palate popping Kama-Kazi exploding with pepperoni, ham, and bacon.

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Dom's Sausage Company Malden

Dom's Sausage Company in Malden is another local favorite where you can get steak tips to take home and grill on your own, or stuffed into a sub with melted American cheese to eat on site. The secret to their tips is a top secret, housemade marinade that makes these hand cut beauties even better.

Virgilio's Gloucester

Another Great 8 winner is Virgilio's in Gloucester. Since 1934, this classic Italian bakery has been serving top-notch sandwiches on hot bread that's baked fresh every hour. The steak and cheese here stands out for the bread of course, but also because they use thin cut steak cutlets coated in breadcrumbs and fried until crispy. That's topped with salami, peppers, onions and provolone.

Cork Wine & Tapas New Bedford

Cork Wine & Tapas in New Bedford is a romantic spot in a beautifully refurbished three-story building that dates back to 1838, with exposed stone walls and wooden beams. The menu is lined with sharable plates like grilled flatbread pizzas, truffled French fries tossed with basil, thyme and Peccorino-Romano, and piping hot Philly rolls stuffed with steak and melted cheese, served with onions rings and Sriracha aioli.

The Tides Nahant

The Tides Restaurant on Nahant Beach is the perfect seaside spot for sucking back some cold ones with some hot, hearty food. While Prime Rib is the ultimate meal for any meat lover, it's best when smothered in cheese and served on a hot crusty roll. The steak and cheese here is shaved prime rib with peppers, onions, mushrooms and cheese.

Brelundi Waltham

Another Great 8 winner is Brelundi. With two locations in Waltham, Brelundi is a triple threat, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. Their specialty is Arrancini, with every one of their 48 flavors made by hand. So you can get your steak and cheese in Sicilian rice ball form.

Ciro's Woonsocket, RI

Ciro's in Woonsocket, Rhode Island is an authentic English tavern that serves creative takes of pub fare, like Pulled Pork Nachos topped with purple slaw. The must-order on the menu is the Signature Steak Sandwich. Far from your typical shaved steak sub, this bad boy has the reputation for being one of the greatest grinders around. It's thick cut sirloin smothers with American cheese, onions and mushrooms.

Iron Town Diner Saugus

Iron Town Diner in Saugus is a busy breakfast and lunch spot serving big portions that will get your day going. Nothing jump starts your body quite like the steak and cheese omelet, a play on that Philly favorite in breakfast form.

Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.

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Phantom Gourmet

Meridian Food Market

Meridian Food Market

Either this guy is really confident.

“We got the best balls in town.” 

“It’s the best Italian sub shop in East Boston.”  

“We go through 420 pounds of chicken cutlet a week.  You tell me how good it is.”

“We have been her for over forty years; that’s an accomplishment. And I can’t believe that it took forty years for the Phantom Gourmet to come to us. I can’t believe it. Forty Years!!!!!” 

Or the food at the Meridian Market is just that good.

“Meridian Market’s a staple. If you haven’t been to Meridian Market then you’re under a rock.” 

“It’s reliable.  It’s quick.  I know I’m going to get a delicious sandwich.”

“It’s reminds me of eating at my grandmother’s house”

“They make it the way I do and I don’t have to go to the trouble.”

“The food is so good.  So good.  Trust me.  It’s so good!”

“If they left we’d all starve.”

“I can’t imagine East Boston without Meridian Market.”

Located on Meridian Street, in the heart of East Boston, Meridian Market is a casual deli that’s been been serving homestyle Italian meals to the neighborhood since the seventies.   Freddie Noviello is the charismatic king of cold cuts and Italian eats, with a big personality rivaled only by the enormous portions he and his family are serving.   

“This is a family run operation, you got my brother Paul, you have myself, Freddie, my mom is behind the counter.  I have my aunt in the back, my father comes in in the morning.  It’s just, that’s family run and family owned.”

And you’ll feel like family the second you walk in the door.            

“They’re always friendly they know who you are they always say hello when you come in. We’re all family.” 

“I love Paul and Freddie’s mother Dorothy.  She’s the sweetest woman in East Boston.”

“We’re raised family oriented  so when people do come in we know everyone by a first name basis. We ask them how’s the kids. We ask them how’s your day going?   

“ They treat everyone like family and you never leave here hungry.”

So, as soon as you take a seat and order your meal, you’ll feel right at home ….because they’re cooking everything fresh every day.  

So they fry their cutlets to order.

“A nice hot chicken cutlet.  It goes a long way.”

Roll out all of their pasta. 

“She’s making love to that pasta”

And feature a bunch of family recipes from behind the line.

“So right here we have a stuffed calamari. Right here we have a tripe. Today we have a braised short rib. Right here is an eggplant parm. And right here old school meatballs and sausages and that’s how our mother would put iron the table when we would have dinner.”

First time Meridian Market goers need to order a sub- served on fresh bread baked just up the street. There’s one of the best Italians in all of Boston- loaded up the way you like it or this flavor packed sandwich stuffed with a fresh cutlets, broccoli rabe and provalone. But anyone in the know will tell you this is the place for chicken parm.

“There’s a lot of people that say we have the best chicken parm. We make  marinara sauce every single day. We put that on top of our chicken cutlets, provolone cheese.  We throw it in the oven, and then once that comes out it’s breathtaking. 

“It’s all about the components right?  You’ve got the bread which is amazing.  You’ve got the cheesy cheesy cheese which is imported to be layered on top of your beautiful chicken cutlet.  And the magicness of when you would eat that in a bite, brings you to tears I would say. It takes your breath away.”

And then there’s The Meridian Special.   A sandwich so special, they named it after the place.  

“Alright so the Meridian Special Sub  we created ah, probably about 17 years ago. We put chicken cutlets, prosciutto de Parma, fresh  mozzarella, roasted peppers, basil and olive oil, then we drizzle a little  bit of balsamic dressing on there as well.  What you get nice crusty on the outside bread, soft on the inside, you get a nice  fresh, hot, chicken cutlet and then you have the melt of the mozzarella cheese because it  goes on top of the hot cutlet. You have roasted peppers, balsamic, It’s delicious, delicious.”         

Sandwiches aside, there’s a schmorgasbord of Italian fare with everything from jacked up antipastos and perfectly executed Sicilian slices to some of the best arrancini around.

“We’re making  those fresh every single morning. It’s all  done by hand. No machines at Meridian Market. Everything is done by hand. You get the crunch of the bread  crumbs on the outside. You get the creaminess of the Arborio rice with the butter and then you have the mozzarella cheese that gooey all over the hamburger, it’s great. Best balls in town.”

                  

Old world classics like Lasagna are a must try- rolled out in individual portions so it’s always fresh.  And in fact, the pasta is pretty much always being made in the back.

“If you are making it from scratch, you’re actually creating your own food and it’s coming from yourself.”      

And the meatballs are Freddie’s mom’s, so you know they’re made with love.

“Everything is made with love.  We use pork and we  use beef.  We bake them off  in the oven, and then we cook them in the marinara sauce.   This is my mother’s meatballs recipe, it was brought from my mom’s and over the years we just made it here.           

And as they hustle behind the line, the Noviello’s are always grateful for each and every customer they come across.  

“When you enjoy what you do,  it’s not work, it’s fun..I come into work and I see people all day and we get to talk and making a sandwich, I don’t consider that work, it’s fun. Putting ingredients together and making something  that people are going to say, “Wow, that’s the best sandwich I ever had  in my life.  Makes me happy.”       

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