Every Monday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Nonavo Pizza is transformed into Nonavo Sandwich with a short menu of Brooklyn-inspired sandwiches on fresh hoagie buns from Dos Hermanos Bakery in Portland.
Co-owner Joey Chmiko is a native of New Jersey and misses the bodega sandwiches that are available all hours of the day and night in New York. His wife and co-owner, Alder Suttles, lived in several neighborhoods in Brooklyn and experienced a melting pot of sandwiches — from Italian and Jewish delis to Vietnamese banh mi to Caribbean roti.
This husband-and-wife team decided to open on Mondays for lunch so they could serve sandwiches and spend some time together. The menu is short (six sandwiches and one soup) and inspired by sandwiches Chmiko made at a sandwich shop in Brooklyn.
I visited on the second week of the pop-up. Martha and the Vandellas were singing “Heatwave.” On the menu was a rare roast beef sandwich, an Italian hoagie (with mortadella, coppa, salami, provolone and mozzarella), a turkey and swiss (with kimchi slaw), Philly pork, market veg, prosciutto and smoked turkey, and a celery root soup with lemon and herbs.
As with everything at Nonavo, the menu depends on the bounty of local farmers. The market veg will shift with the seasons, but the Italian and the Philly pork sandwiches will be reliably steady menu items.
I couldn’t decide what to eat because I wanted to eat everything. Mitch Montgomery and Brian Clemens of Relevant Coffee were in a booth by the window. They are total foodies, and I needed to know what they were eating. They recommended the Italian hoagies that had previously been on the now-empty black-and-white checkered paper on the plates in front of them.
I wasn’t in the mood to eat like Tony Soprano that afternoon, so I got the Philly pork and the market veg. When I asked Chmiko what inspired the Philly pork sandwich, he replied, “If you’re in Philly, you eat this.”
I need to go back to Philly soon, because when I went I was the typical tourist and ate a cheesesteak sandwich with Cheez Whiz (or as Philly locals say, “wit”). The Philly pork sandwich at Nonavo comes (like all the sandwiches) on a sesame seed-covered hoagie bun that is crisp on the outside and pillow-y on the inside. This is the perfect sandwich vessel, because you can squeeze it down to get everything in your mouth, and the juices and dressings seep into the bread, creating a perfect mixture of flavors.
The pork is slow-cooked overnight in Nonavo’s pizza oven. It’s tricky to get the heat just right because it’s a wood-burning oven meant to make pizza. But Chmiko played around with it to get the heat slow and low for this luscious pork, which is nestled into a hoagie bun with farm-fresh, tender broccolini. Mayo and melted provolone meld to the top of the bun with a sprinkling of pecorino cheese and a handful of Mama Lil’s peppers.
The market veg sandwich is the gateway drug to veganism. Creamy, meaty cauliflower is added to bitter Lacinato kale and topped with pickled onions, housemade mushroom spread and bright goddess dressing. I wish I could buy the meaty, creamy mushroom spread and put it on everything or just eat it out of the jar with a spoon. If you like a bit of heat, the housemade chili goes well with this daydream of veggies and dressings.
If you go
What: Monday Sandwich Pop-up at Nonavo Pizza.
Where: 110 W. Sixth St., Vancouver.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays.
Contact: 360-843-9696 or www.nonavopizza.com
A steady flow of customers came and went. Chmiko was philosophical about the potential of disappointed customers coming in seeking pizza. He said, “If they come in for pizza, they can roll into a sandwich.” I think that once people try these amazing sandwiches they will be craving them the rest of the week.
All sandwiches are $9 and come with a pickle and chips, and soup is $3.
Rachel Pinsky can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @couveeats.