Price: $5.69 (small)
Location: 390 Western Ave, South Portland
Notes: I was fooled. Oh, sure, I had seen plenty of D’Angelos restaurants scattered around town, with their beaten up green signs, wood paneling, and dim lighting. They have all the appeal of eating a hot toasted sub inside a desperate, smoke-filled Narcotics Anonymous meeting in the basement of a YMCA, but with none of the cool people. The restaurant I stopped at today in South Portland, though, was nothing like this; this D’Angelo was bright, airy, and cheerful, with a new logo, new colors, and a whole new style. I must’ve suspected, somewhere, that they were related, but I pushed those thoughts out of my mind and tried a “Chicken Parm,” a sandwich from their “Toasted Classic” section.
I am normally very anti-toasted sub. At a Quiznos or a Subway, ordering your sandwich “toasted” usually just means you like your meats lukewarm, and your bread turned into a brittle mass that explodes into dust as soon as you bite into it. Not so, at D’Angelo. In fact, their bread, crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and “toasted” face-down on a flat top, was actually the star of the sandwich. I think I just chose badly. The chicken was white and wiggly, and could have benefited from a breading and a deep-frying, as I am accustomed on this type of sandwich. The cheese was good, although not melted all the way through. The sauce, smeared on as almost an afterthought, was too heavily spiced for this sandwich. You could get the same results by taking a bite of boiled chicken breast, and then a bite of raw oregano.
I applaud D’Angelo for their attempt to re-brand and shake their reputation as “Great place to warm up your hands while you count up the coins you’ve spare-changed/Deluxe Sandwich Emporium.” It worked well enough to lure me in. And I will certainly try them again, as the idea of a steak and cheese on that bread is appealing to me. There is no reason, however, to order a chicken Parmesan sandwich there.