During the late 90's, Hakaan and Pete Sopersata relentlessly cruised Hartford's in search of the perfect sandwich. From dive to deli to bistro, we found many quality sandwiches, yet we never did find a sandwich that we would crown Best In Hartford. Always a flaw was to be found, too much lettuce, too much sauce, sloppily construction, marginal bread. Always some detail was overlooked.
We never anointed a best sandwich, and while the best bread in the area today can be found at Hartford Baking Company, the best bread we ever had was discovered on this sandwich quest at the long defucnt Salvatore's on Wethersfield Ave.
Salvatore's was a very short lived sandwich shop located in the building that now houses Rainbow Medical Suplies and an Italian club. We were introduced to Salvatore's by a co-worker at our job in an electric shop in the South Meadows. Shortly thereafter that co-worker went to prison for playing a role in the Christmas Tree Murders.
Salvatore's was a very low-cost, no-frills operation to say the least. Salvatore was a friendly enough gentleman and it wasn't hard to beat Wendy's or the infamous "Fried Chicken" as lunch options.
We became a bit skeptical of Salvatore's business acumen after paying for the sandwich with a $20 being given change from a wad of bills from Salvatore's pocket. We may have been young and naive, but we were pretty sure one should probably not be using their pocket as a cash register.
Upon trying Salvatore's sandwich the bread hit us immediately, it was amazing. To this day, the best bread we ever had. Never had better before or after. According to Salvatore, his mom baked the bread daily.
Future visits to Salvatore's almost always produced a comedy of errors. Every single time we visited we ordered the roast beef sandwich. Every single time we ordered the roast beef we were told they were out. After a while we became fairly certain that Salvatore had never actually stocked roast beef.
In preparing the sandwiches Salvatore would disappear to the back and take excruciatingly long to disappear. Sandwiches would come out at different times and with no apparent rhyme or reason. How could a chicken parm be produced in 7-8 minutes while a genoa ordered at the same time could take 25? What exactly was Salvatore up to back there? Yet it didn't really matter as long as it came out in those beautiful bread rolls!
Perhaps the funniest Salvatore's incident came when we told some college friends about how amazing the bread was and that we highly recommended the journey to the South End. Well they took us up on the offer. The story was it was relayed back to us;
"So we have a smoke and decide to try this bread place that you had been raving about it. It was decided I would go and bring the two sandwiches back. Two chicken parm sandwiches. Nothing hard about that. I find the place no problem, no one else is in there. I place the order and Salvatore disappears to the back, to, I assume, make the sandwiches. I'm just standing there hanging out, doing nothing.
I don't have a watch and my sense of time is off, but it starts to feel like this is taking a really, really long time. There is literally nothing to do at all, (forget smart phones, this is pre-cell phones) the two newspapers he had in the shop were in Italian. I don't know how long passed, had to be at least 20 to 30 minutes. Next thing I know, a Hartford cop walks in.
Now I'm standing there next to a Hartford cop with nothing to do except stare at my shoes and look stupid. At this point I'm assuming Salvatore went out back, killed the chickens, and was now plucking the feathers. Mercifully he emerged with the sandwiches after only about five minutes of standing around with the Officer. Never been so happy to get out of a sandwich shop. But yes, the bread was unreal."
Not surprisingly, Salvatore was only in business a few months. We heard a few years back that he was operating a food cart down by Brainard Airport, but we never confirmed. We have no idea on Salvatore's current whereabouts, but we still remember his wonderful bread every time we drive by his old shop.