Nowhere else in the world have I visited where the slab of breaded chicken or veal sits soaked in marinara on a round crusty bun. Usually hot or sweet peppers accompanies, with additional options of mushrooms, cheese, and onions. I have tried as many of these sandwiches as possible in the city, but more of them keep cropping up. Here is the latest batch, with some additional thoughts on their origins and varieties:
Pictured above is a chicken sandwich from Bitundo's, located in Little Italy, Toronto, on a side street near the Monarch Tavern. I got mushrooms and cheese as my extras, and ate it on a frosty night in mere seconds. Lots of walk in pick ups for pizza were happening, which is pretty good business considering it sits directly across from another pizza + sandwich joint, San Francesco's. And while Bitundo's is more modest in appearance, their breaded meat offering was far more appetizing than the disaster I once had at SF's. While pizza seems be their big business, I do wonder if the breaded meat sandwich's popularity has anything to do with the large Portuguese population in downtown Toronto? Italian parm sandwiches are one thing, which feels more Italian-American, but nowhere else have I eaten more breaded meat sandwiches than I did in Lisbon. While Portuguese fried meat on bread sandwiches are not so saucy, this may be where one country's comfort food overlaps with another to form the perfect sandwich combination. A perfect meal on the first cold winter's day, this sandwich, which I find quite specific to Toronto, remains a treasure.
Next, I finally tried something other than their pizza pie one sunny afternoon at Mare Pizzeria in Kensington Market for what would be the heaviest sandwich by far. I needed two hands to carry the bottom of the poor paper plate across a very short distance. If there was a weigh-in, this guy would undoubtedly win, and yet, it was not my favorite. The chicken was a bit too over fried for my liking, more grizzled than juicy, and sauce to bread proportions were off, giving away to the dreaded sog effect. I still ate every morsel on my soiled paper plate, and remained full for many, many hours afterwards (in fact, I am still full), but looking forward, I would try their meatball.
For a change of pace, I tried the chicken sandwich at The Whole Plate on Roncesvalles, which is and was the same people as the Polish-owned Super Kolbasa, so all the same pierogies and pickle soups are all just a few blocks south at the WP. One new feature at WP is their focus on prepared meals, and trying their chicken sandwich, I was really pleasantly surprised by the slaw combination they added. A fresh crisp and crunchy cream slaw on top of one of their juicy chicken filets was real tasty, and while they don't really have a sit in option, I can't wait until it's picnic season again to grab a couple of these for a stroll to High Park.