A chopped cheese sandwich is as New York as stickball. I know of only one restaurant that sells them — The Seasoned Vegan which makes a terrific ‘veganized’ version — yet almost every deli north of 116th street does sell them, and the farther uptown you go, the better they seem to get.
Once you know what a NY deli looks like — they’re often called Gourmet Deli — the grill world of chopped cheese, double hamburger, cheeseburger deluxe, Philly cheese steak, chicken cutlet sandwich and so on becomes your oyster.
Each deli’s cook creates a slightly different sandwich partly because the options are so many: type of cheese, kinds of peppers, onions, amount of chopped meat, optional additives like bacon-it gets personal fast.
Consistent is that they always come on either a roll (around $4.50) or a hero (around $5.00) and are served wrapped in paper, then cut in half, and wrapped again in aluminum foil.
The last great chopped cheese I ate was soulfully prepared by a guy named Jeffrey in the N&W Deli Grocery on Amsterdam at 150th Street. Same name as me. We went back and forth on that for a bit. It was early. He said to me ‘You’re my first customer. My mission today is to make you a sandwich as good as the one I make for myself. I make it the same.’ My ship had come in! It was February and it was 70°! Such a morning!
Whole Foods vs Drug Dealer Sandwich, here.