“Greek Chicken Sub” (Athens Pizzeria)
Today’s sandwich is the “Greek Chicken Sub” from Athens Pizzeria in Thomaston. It combines grilled chicken souvlaki, lettuce, tomato, pickles, crumbled feta cheese, and sliced Kalamata olives on a white submarine sandwich roll.
Location: 179 Main Street, Thomaston
Notes: Sometimes, you just can’t face another Ham Italian, you know? Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had more than my share of Maine’s venerable sandwich, and when I have a massive craving for junk food, I am as likely to feed the monkey on my back a ham, American cheese, fresh vegetable, and sour pickle sandwich from Amato’s as I am anything else.
Every now and then, though, I want something different. I want a swarthy guy with hair on his knuckles to slice me a thin slab of compressed lamb shoulder onto a fluffy piece of pita, cover it in lettuce and tomato, and slather it in a gallon of industrialized tzatziki. In the past, it’s an urge that has hit at three in the morning, staggering around Avenue B after drinking $2 Guinness with Jameson backs and playing “Big Buck Hunter” for nine straight hours.
These days, it’s a craving that is likelier to hit after a 45-second shower, falling asleep during a rerun of “Dawson’s Creek,” and a particularly stressful reading of “Goodnight Moon.” It’s still a powerful urge. And in Thomaston, Maine, there aren’t a lot of places to satisfy that particular, peculiar hunger.
It may have been the neon sign that read simply “GYRO” in the window, but it was the “Greek Chicken Sub” that ultimately won me over. A huge white sub roll with a slight crust on the outside, and a soft, chewy center, is laid with chunks of chicken souvlaki, tender grilled chunks of chicken with a bit of char on the outside. From there, things get a little unorthodox. The sandwich is topped with a gloriously messy assemblage of shredded iceberg lettuce, a few slices of tomato, some sliced pickle, and tons of crumbled feta and sliced Kalamata olives.
While I loved the outrageously generous pour of crumbled feta cheese, lending a sharp, satisfying saltiness to the tart brine of the olives, the sandwich wasn’t without room for improvement. The chicken was a little dry, though I loved the combination of herbs and spices that lent a seasoned bark to the outside of each chunk. The biggest flaw lay in a saucing oversight, I’m afraid. The sandwich needs an additional element to bring everything together into a cohesive whole; a swipe of tzatziki, say, or a mixed olive salad to introduce some oil and some moisture, in place of the Kalamatas.
These minor quibbles aside, I am certain I will return to Athens Pizzeria the next time I am in Thomaston and the urge for the contrasting flavors of Greek takeout strike. The restaurant is, after all, the only game in town, and while today’s sandwich wasn’t perfect, I am grateful that it exists.