Like most students, my head was recently on the verge of exploding this past week. 4 exams, 4 days, 10 homework assignments, 2 lab reports, AGH! It was enough to make you scream. Whether you handle stress poorly or you’re a liar, midterms week is probably the second most stressful time of the semester. And it only gets worse if the exams start to overlap. That’s why, after missing my deadline for this week, I decided enough was enough; nothing chic, nothing hip, just some good old-fashioned, deli-cious food.
My first pick for deli food is 9 times out of 10 Lisa’s (fight me!), but my friend swore by two other places- Vito’s and Frankie and Ava’s, right on 2nd and Washington. While I’ve always wanted to try Vito’s, I couldn’t justify going to a place that was on 8th and right in front of every dorm on campus. Thus, I got my stuff together and took the hike to downtown Hoboken.
Walking in, I was impressed by how professional the interior was for what I thought was just a deli. All the tables, chairs, and floors were designed to appear like the old wooden items you might find in a villa on the Apulian coast, tended to by a tired but dedicated set of hands that rejoiced in the simpleness of life. This simple aesthetic gave a very homey feel, and if it were any colder/less sunny out I’d have been forced to revel in it and stay in.
Looking at the menu, I realized Frankie and Ava’s is technically not just a deli, it’s a full-blown Italian eatery. Calamari, linguini and clams, salads, pizzas, and sandwiches; you name it and take your pick. The massive menu consists of mostly sandwiches, wraps, and paninis, but also has extensive entrée and formal dining options. Despite the choices, however, there was only one thing I was after, and that was their sandwiches and wraps. I ordered one Nuckols wrap in whole wheat, quickly realized I should probably cover my dinner too, and ordered another Grilled Italian Sausage with fries.
After getting my food in about 10 minutes—the place was empty so I’m hesitant to say they’re always fast—I immediately dug into the Grilled Italian Sausage. Stuffed with mutz, pepper, onion, sausage, and delightfully baked potatoes, the sandwich was exactly what I was looking for; heavy, unapologetic, home-style food that was so heavily carbo-loaded, Michael Phelps probably eats it before his races. While the savory backdrop of the carbs played excellently with the spiced sausage, the Nuckols wrap carried the day for me. A deceptively simple wrap consisting of turkey, mutz, lettuce, and tomato, the Nuckols’s secret lies in the spicy hot pepper mayo spread that slathers the insides and imparts a flavor best described as a kicking, sweeter version of a tangy mayo-based sauce. It starts off slightly salty, but quickly erupts into a sharp peak of heat, before just as rapidly dissipating into a sweet and savory lightness that dances over the tones of the mutz and turkey. Both are highly recommended.
My most important advice is to not think of Frankie & Ava’s as a deli, as if you do you’ll misjudge the place. Rather, think of it as an Italian eatery that is nice enough for a casual date with someone you don’t know well enough, but without giving off that vibe. If you’re in the area and curious, Frankie & Ava’s wide menu and welcoming atmosphere will guarantee you have a good first time.