Tommy Dinic's is a minimalist place. A countertop with barstools rings a small area where one waitress and three cooks bustle about filling orders. A long line forms for carry-out behind the cash register, next to hunks of smoky charred roast meat. The menu is short but sweet: five sandwiches, five dollars each. Roast beef, roast pork, Italian sausage, chicken marinara and veal scallopine. Add cheese for $0.75, add peppers for $0.75, add "greens" for $0.75. Add a combination of two for $1.25. Soda, one size, one dollar.

But oh, the flavor is anything but minimal. Roast beef arrives hot and juicy -- a mound of thinly sliced but intensely flavorful beef atop a roll just barely hard enough to stand up to a dipping in the juice that collects at the bottom of the plate. And the greens are a must: crisp, just wilted spinach, glistening with a touch of oil, flecked with red pepper, full of the rich sweetness of saut‚ed garlic. The waitress includes a fork on top in case the overflowing mound is just too much to eat by hand. Businessmen in suits dip plastic forks into plastic containers of yellow peppers and horseradish, spread it over their sandwich. "This is good stuff," says one to his neighbor as he puts a generous amount of horseradish on his chicken sandwich, "clears everything out."

The veal scallopine comes covered in a red sauce spotted with pieces of green pepper. It's meltingly tender, the meat falling into shreds like a good pot roast, but almost bland compared with the bold flavors of the roast beef. Add greens or cheese or fork on some of that pungent horseradish or some of those sweet peppers and it's perfect.

This is fast food at its best, speedy but unhurried, fast but prepared with care.


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