The sandwich: Italian sausage with peppers What's on it: Italian sausage, peppers, provolone and marinara sauce on a hoagie roll Where to get it: Carbone's Italian Sausage Market and Deli (1221 West 38th Avenue, 303-455-2893) How much: $6.49
The sausage-and-pepper sandwich should be our state meal. It speaks to our ethnic history and the strong, blue-collar backs of the people who built Colorado, from the coal mines of Pueblo to the brick factories of Denver to the slaughterhouses of Greeley and the beet farms of Longmont. While a healthier alternative - something with less fat and more veggies - might be a more appropriate and more popular menu item in today's greener world, it will never smell sweeter than marinara sauce and sausage and peppers.
Even better, sausage-and-pepper sandwiches celebrate one of my favorite Colorado-grown specialties: peppers, which you can find in all kinds of varieties, from Broomfield's Dynamites to the hot Pueblos of the San Luis Valley.
Carbone's makes a mean sausage-and-pepper sandwich. Located right next to the original Chubby's (a Mexican food restaurant with its own special history), this tiny space is a piece of a larger puzzle that brings together so much of what I love about the Italian/Latino mishmash that is northwest Denver.
That mix starts with sausage and Christ, oil and cheese and tomatoes and peppers. It involves little old ladies with hard eyes and big smiles, men with bushy mustaches, heartache, hard work, fierce nationalism and, at lunchtime, a line out the door of locals who can't stay from their favorite hole in the wall.
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That's what I found at Carbone's yesterday, when I went to get both a sausage-and-pepper sandwich and a meatball sandwich (if I'm going to sin against my body, I might as well sin big all at once).
The sausage was definitely the better sandwich. The Italian-style patty was rich in flavor, and while I wasn't expecting jalapeños, I wasn't expecting the current financial crisis, either, so I guess you have to roll with the punches sometimes. The marinara was terrific, and the doughy roll held everything together. The meatball sandwich was fine, too, if slightly more bland.
Sausage-and-pepper sandwiches are part of what makes Colorado unique, and you can get a real taste of history at Carbone's.
For previous sandwiches, see the Our Weekly Bread archive.