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The Suburbanite
  • Restaurant review: DiBella’s provides competition with subs

  • There are now three submarine sandwich shops within a few short blocks of each other by Westfield Belden Village Mall.

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  • Belden Village Street NW is turning into a sub mecca.
    There are now three submarine sandwich shops within a few short blocks of each other by Westfield Belden Village Mall. First to come was Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches. Next, Potbelly Sandwich Shop opened at the end of May in the former Qdoba spot. On July 25, DiBella’s Old Fashioned Submarines joined them at the old Damon’s location.
    DiBella’s is by far the largest, with a sprawling dining room decorated to look like a 1940’s New York-style corner sandwich shop.
    The shop offers build-your-own subs from a variety of fillings, but it’s the specialty subs that get my appetite worked up. Buffalo chicken, the Dagwood, the Italian meatball, and the Albacore tuna salad all call to me, but on my visits I couldn’t resist going with the best sellers.
    The Godfather, the eatery’s most popular sub, starts with a combo of Genoa salami, capicola and spicy ham on a choice of bun, served “classic” or “grilled.”
    Classic means cold, grilled means the meat and cheese are warmed on a flattop grill before being tucked into the bun. I topped my Godfather with lettuce, tomato and onion, all drizzled with oil and vinegar. It was an excellent sandwich, with quality meat that tastes like it’s from an authentic Italian deli. But what is really impressive is DiBella’s bread.
    According to the company, the sub buns — multigrain, sesame, everything, and plain — are baked in-house not once a day, but throughout the day to ensure the freshest bread possible.
    My Godfather was on the dense and nutty multigrain that is so dark it almost looks like pumpernickel. I also had DiBella’s cheesesteak on a sesame bun, which seems a cross between sourdough and Italian, with a soft interior and shiny, chewy crust.
    The hearty bun holds up to the cheesesteak’s generous serving of piping hot, tender grilled steak, topped with gooey melted mozzarella and sautéed peppers and onions. I added mayo and banana peppers as well, which lend a nice punch of sauce and sass.
    Like its Potbelly neighbor, DiBella’s also offers side dishes such as green salads, and macaroni and potato salads. All three sub shops also specialize in house-baked cookies. I tried DiBella’s white chocolate macadamia cookie, and wasn’t impressed with the oily aftertaste.
    I love those two subs, but I really don’t like Dibella’s ordering system. As you step up to the counter, it’s easy to miss the instruction signs and know what to do. Here’s the system:  Wait for a sub maker to wave you over and take your order. She’ll then give you a plastic number and you will head down the expanse of the counter to two registers. You’ll be inclined to hand the plastic number to the cashier. They don’t want it. Instead, they want you to repeat your entire order in detail so they can ring it up. You pay, then stand aside and wait. (I waited nine minutes on my last visit). When your order is ready, a staff member will come out from behind the counter to look for you, hand you your sandwich, and collect the number.
    Page 2 of 2 - The whole process can feel awkward and annoying. But the two subs I tried are so good, it seemed worth it.