Dish Deathmatch: Roasted Pork Sandwich – Wario’s vs. Icarus
Icarus Sandwich Shop set up shop this fall in the Short North on Second Avenue. It’s an addition that comes as good news for a couple reasons: 1) It physically, if not spiritually, fills the giant painful hole left by Laughlin’s Bakery; and 2) Icarus increases the number of independent operations in a neighborhood that has grown controversially more Big Box Corporate in recent years.
As its name implies, the game is sandwiches. While Icarus is a newbie, its operators are not new to the food scene. They’re veterans of Fox in the Snow, which itself is home of a legendary local egg sandwich. It’s no surprise that early rumors indicate that the Icarus Roasted Pork Sandwich is similarly transcendent.
There’s only one way to find out.
By measuring it against Wario’s Roasted Pork Sandwich. Since its 2020 debut, Wario’s has quickly risen to the top of the pecking order in the Downtown eating scene. It is the new standard against which all sandwiches must be measured.
Okay as a spoiler, the dueling sandwiches turn out nothing alike. They have pork in common, and that’s about it. One’s a dipper, one’s not. That’s gonna make our comparison system super subjective.
Additionally, the staffing at both joints is crazy nice, and not in fake way. The teams seem earnestly pleased to recognize other humans on the planet.
That is to say, I desperately want both operations to be top dog.
Icarus’s sandwich ($11) is served on house ciabatta. It looks like work, like perhaps it will be prohibitively chewy. But looks are deceiving, the bread is tender and breaks neatly with each bite. The sandwich holds bendy sweet pickles cut razor thin, and lot of chunks and shreds of roasted pork married together with a lovely maple mustard.
Wario’s rendition is huge and weighty. It’s $3 more ($14), but it’s essentially two sandwiches. Slim slices of lean pork fall into bits and shreds with provolone that’s packed into a soft seeded semolina roll with…is that BROCCOLI? Close, broccoli rabe, sautéed and diced with an added peppery spike. Sublime. Wario’s has a really good topping game, generally, a fact originally established with its giardiniera on other combos. The sandwich comes with pork jus, and when dipped, the whole creation comes together nicely.
Okay, so…see? Nothing alike, that said, the maple mustard sauce on the Icarus version was crazy tasty and tips the scales in its direction at game time. That said, we’d be down for a rematch any day of the week.
All photos by Susan Post