New Haven residents need not travel far to find the best sandwich shop in the state: According to Connecticut Magazine, that distinction belongs to Meat and Co., a restaurant at the corner of Crown and Chapel streets.
“It’s really good to get our name out there,” said James Cofrancesco, one of two cooks behind the counter. “We are the best sandwich in Connecticut, so it makes sense that Connecticut Magazine would write about us.”
The Meat and Co. sandwich is distinguished from others in town in several ways. For starters, the cooks make the sandwiches in front of customers on a classic panini press, and their menu offers a wide range of options, from “The Bluto,” a fried chicken sandwich topped with spicy mustard and served on a homemade buttermilk biscuit, to the “Garden Rustler,” a barbecue squash sandwich.
Owner John Ginnetti, who founded the sandwich shop in 2011, said using fresh ingredients is key to the restaurant’s success. But he added that authenticity is what sets Meat and Co. apart from the average sandwich shop.
“To boil it down to one thing, it’s probably just that everything is considered,” Ginnetti said. “Nothing is ever included with the excuse that it’s ‘just cool.’ Our products are cool because they are of the best quality. They are all authentic, original, creative and innovative.”
In fact, those are the words that drive Meat and Co.’s philosophy, according to Ginnetti. He said he keeps several key words on his office wall, such as authenticity, originality, creativity, innovation and quality. All of his restaurant’s work is shaped by those ideas, he added.
Ginnetti cited the “Rick Reuben” sandwich as an example of authenticity, adding that the sandwich is his personal favorite on the menu.
“Think of a Reuben with local, house-brined pastrami and braised red cabbage slaw with cardamom, all bought at the farmers market from the people that grew the vegetables and the animals as well as the bread,” Ginneti said. “So this isn’t just another deli, but a place that uses local ingredients from local folks and prepares them with care.”
Ginnetti said he was grateful for the recognition that his restaurant received from Connecticut Magazine but that, above all, he wanted his customers to agree with the designation.
Around noon on Monday, the shop was crowded with customers. Multiple customers said they come to Meat and Co. every Monday for the “Monday Special,” in which patrons can buy any sandwich and get a drink and either potato salad or a brownie for free.
But good prices aren’t the only draw. One customer, in line for a Rick Reuben together with his friend who was waiting for a “D. Wayne Johnson,” said that, because it serves warm sandwiches that are of higher quality than those in the area, Meat and Co. is not a standard deli. Another customer, in line for the “Haute Tuna Melt,” praised Meat and Co. for its unique flavors and good quality.
“The food here is great, it’s just homemade and authentic,” the customer said. “I come here every single Monday.”
Meat and Co. is located at 116 Crown St.
John Gross | firstname.lastname@example.org