Restaurant Reviews

December 11, 2009

Dolci & Joes: Food with a neighborhood feel

Dolci & Joes is a new sandwich shop situated perfectly between downtown and the College Hill neighborhood so that it draws decent crowds from both, particularly on weekdays.

Review: Dolci & Joes
Rating: Three forks out of four
Where: 3425 E. Douglas, 316-613-3515
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 4 p.m. Sundays
Type of food: Sandwiches, burgers, salads
Alcohol: No
Smoking: Not allowed

Dolci & Joes is a new sandwich shop situated perfectly between downtown and the College Hill neighborhood so that it draws decent crowds from both, particularly on weekdays.

On a recent weekday afternoon, the line started forming at high noon, and every table in the place was filled about 10 minutes later.

Customers were waiting (and waiting) for their gourmet sandwiches to be assembled by the small but cheerful staff — sandwiches featuring fresh and fun ingredients like pastrami, brined pork, jalapeno apricot mustard, Italian aioli, cheesy rosemary bread and beautiful Jewish marbled rye.

Dolci & Joes opened in early November in a building on Douglas formerly occupied by a Taco Tico and then by a short-lived restaurant called Breezy's.

It's owned by Josh Crowe, who wanted to open a restaurant with a neighborhood feel.

ON THE MENU: Most of the menu is made up of hearty sandwiches, all but two served cold. (Though the staff will warm the meat on sandwiches when it makes sense.)

It also includes four burgers, six salads and sides of fresh-cut fries, both sweet potato and plain.

Most of the food is served to-go style. Sandwiches are wrapped in butcher paper and labeled, and salads come in cardboard containers. It gives the place a big-city deli feel but is a bit of a drag when dining in.

DON'T-MISS DISHES: Hours after leaving Dolci & Joes, we were still thinking about the fresh-cut fries we'd had.

A big basket of freshly made sweet-potato fries (served either salt-and-peppered or cinnamon-and-sugared) were heavenly and were closely rivaled by a basket of super thick-cut regular potato fries. Both varieties are $1.49 for a small or $2.49 for a large.

The best sandwich we sampled by far was the Happy Trails BBQ Bracket ($6.99), a sandwich made with smoked brisket, barbecue sauce, tomatoes, grilled onion and sharp Cheddar on wheatberry bread. We were warned the brisket was served cold but were told it could also be heated, an option we took. The brisket was thick and smoky, and the homemade barbecue sauce had a unique, vinegar-y taste that made the sandwich.

Also delicious — the Reuben ($6.99), one of only two sandwiches on the menu served hot. (The other is the grilled cheese.) The Jewish marbled rye bread was dramatic and attractive and easily supported a big pile of beef pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.

The Rocky ($6.99), on the other hand, was disappointing. Piled with salami, peppered bacon, brined pork, smoked mozzarella, English cucumber, tomatoes, lettuce and aioli and served on a French baguette, the sandwich was too bready, rather underseasoned and seriously underdressed.

We also sampled the classic burger ($6.99), served with grilled onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, mustard, ketchup and cheese. It was a delightful gooey, greasy mess, and though the burger itself was a bit on the well-done side, it had a nice beefy flavor.

Finally, the Martha's Vineyard salad ($6.99), made with spring greens, cranberries, red onions and cashews, was fine. But the raspberry-honey vinaigrette could have been a little sweeter, and it wasn't much fun eating it out of a box.

AMBIENCE: The dining room seems not quite complete. Haphazardly and awkwardly placed chairs and tables, some short and some tall, dot the floor. The walls are sparsely decorated with chalk boards scrawled with Bible verses. Christian pop plays on a radio from behind the counter.

PRICE RANGE: All sandwiches and burgers are $6.99. Salads are $4.99 and $6.99. A kids menu has items for $3.99.

SERVICE: Service was friendly but far too slow. After ordering at the counter, we waited nearly 25 minutes for our order to appear, and people who had ordered behind us waited longer than that.

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