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Sneak Peek: Zito's Sandwich Shoppe

Image via Park Slope Lens

Oh, circle of life. Last week, Tonio's, the old school Italian mainstay that had called 7th Ave home for the past nineteen years, shuttered their doors, ending a long run in the neighborhood. While it's disappointing to see it go, it couldn't have come as that much of a shock to anyone familiar with the amount of closings in the hood over the last few years.

At the same time, in the spot three doors down that used to house Peek-a-Boo Kids, there's a new school Italian joint that's slated to open up within the next month — Zito's Sandwich Shoppe. It's the product of two brothers-in-law — Marcello & Enzo — who named the joint in honor of the family they both married into and its patriarch, Charlie. Last Friday I swung by to get a sneak preview of the space and although it's still in the somewhat early stages of construction, they left me with a good idea of what to expect.

Image via Park Slope Lens

Basically, Marcello & Enzo envision Zito's as a neighborhood joint that serves quality Italian sandwiches and acts as an ode to their childhood on 18th Ave in Bensonhurst. In fact, on the day I stopped by they were both quite giddy, as they'd just managed to recover signage from an 18th Ave pork store that had recently closed; signage that they plan to display at Zito's. As Enzo explained to me, "Every time I come here I'll see this sign and it'll remind me of my childhood."

The space itself was designed by Tag Collective, the Greenpoint design studio that also designed Crespella, the 7th Ave Italian espresso bar and crêperie run by Marcello's wife Maria. It has a somewhat rustic look to it, with an exposed brick wall running the length of the place, floors that are being redone with 120-year-old reclaimed wood and a ceiling adorned with reclaimed wood beams. With high ceilings and an all-glass storefront, it should have an open, airy feel to it. The back portion will have two flat-screen TVs where folks can hang out and watch soccer and, for the warmer weather, there's a backyard area that'll have wraparound seating for twenty. Also, there will be a foosball table!

Image via Park Slope Lens

While we have to wait a little bit longer before the food's ready to preview, the menu was created by Maria (of Crespella) and will feature thirteen classic sandwiches. Most of the items on the menu will be sourced locally and more often than not, they'll come from Italian businesses that are older than dirt. Sausages will come from Faicco's Pork Store (Dyker Heights), meats from Ottomanelli (UES), cold cuts from Salumeria Biellese (Chelsea) and bread from Il Fornaretto (Bensonhurst). The beverage list will include offerings from Sixpoint (Red Hook) and wines from Long Island.

Of course, I'll wait until I've tried the food to pass my final judgment, but my early take on Zito's is this: If they manage to pull off what they've envisioned — a place that embraces old school Italian food and quality ingredients while giving it all a modern twist — it should be a great addition to the neighborhood. After all, unless you for some reason think that Subway rules, when it comes to choices for a tasty sandwich on 7th Ave, it's pretty slim pickings. Here's hoping that Zito's will change all that!

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