Giacomo’s Italian Market and Grille is a classic neighborhood Italian Market – which has become (since 1975!) a huge local favorite in Easton and the surrounding Lehigh Valley. This place excels in the art of delivering great sandwiches CONSISTENTLY – and it has never disappointed me. Not once. Located in Easton’s homey College Hill neighborhood (just off the campus of Lafayette College), I would highly recommend a stop here for sandwich aficionados in general – and cheesesteak connoisseurs in particular.
I am fortunate enough to live within 10 minute’s drive of the market, and I am fortunate to call myself a regular. My review here will focus on two sandwiches for which this place has grown locally famous - The Cheesesteak and The Godfather. (I can review some of the many other sandwiches at a later date as I order and photograph them – or maybe some RoadFoodies will!)
The Cheesesteak is AMAZING. Served on a 10 inch roll and absolutely PACKED with meaty, steaky goodness. The bread itself is notable due to the fact that it is firm but not hard or “too chewy” – and does not get soggy in spite of what it is packed with as I will describe next. Be prepared for beef that the brothers (the sons of Giacomo) and staff who run the place prepare themselves. Add to that cooked onions and a special sauce that is tomato based yet perfectly straddles the line – it is not “ketchup-y” nor is it particularly “tomato-ey” – but what it IS… is the ideal note of “sweet” with a slight (perfect!) tone of hot kick to it. Fear not if you don’t eat “hot” spices – order it anyway – this is FINE for you – I only mention it here as there is a subtle tone of heat – it is NOT predominant or overwhelming. Add to that I THINK White American Cheese (a variant from other “usual” cheesesteak preparations) and also grilled onions. In fact the onions and the sauce are standard features of this sandwich – but they will always ask if you want them – just to be sure. (Say Yes!) I always ask them to add mushrooms as well for 50 cents more. I always notice how bold and distinct each individual flavor in this sandwich is – even though it is “sauced” the meat flavor leaps at you independently of the other ingredients – standing in stark contrast to other cheesesteaks that sometimes seem to lose the meat in the cheese or the onion flavors – not this one! This sandwich won the Lehigh Valley Express-Times’ (newspaper) 2011 Cheesesteak Showdown where two of the newspaper’s writers put this sandwich up against 12 other cheesesteaks in the local area. BELIEVE THE HYPE….you will just have to taste it to see. At the time of this writing Price = $6.75 (Cheesesteak including onions and sauce) $.50 extra to add mushrooms. The Best of the Best. NOTE: They also offer an “Italian Cheesesteak” – that is a different sandwich and not the one I am reviewing here – I mention that just to avoid confusion.
A word regarding ketchup: This sandwich stands on its own WITHOUT ketchup – though depending on my mood, I have eaten it WITH ketchup as well. It is great BOTH ways – so that just depends on my mood. I have never asked the owners if they consider “the ketchuping” to be a blasphemy or if it is acceptable – I think it is ultimately up to the consumer.
A second “Signature Sandwich” at Giacomo’s is served cold….The Godfather. This sandwich is a great departure from so many sandwiches out there that cling for dear life to their lettuce and tomatoes. This is not one of them – they are not even present on this sandwich. Prepare your palate for fresh prosciutto with roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinaigrette. Expect a savory blending of unique flavors that all come together to make one delicious and unique sandwich. The bread that contains all of this – seems to be the same bread that the cheesesteak has – nice and firm – not given to sogginess. It is a simple sandwich due to only a few ingredients yet it is a unique one. I suspect there will be some reading this who do not care for one or more of the ingredients from a personal taste standpoint – so the appeal for this particular sandwich will not be as broad as for the cheesesteak…but for the adventurous amongst you – have at it – this one is Signature.
You MIGHT have to wait a little bit to get your order – but RESPECT the wait (you are waiting because your order is prepared fresh and also due to the popularity of the sandwiches – it will be worth it!) – you will notice a well-oiled and well-managed operation going on behind the counter – everyone is hustling AND THEY REMAIN FRIENDLY while they cater to the line of customers…..you can always watch the TV mounted on the wall as you wait. It is a picture of efficiency that goes on to serve the customers. Indoor seating is available in the front of the store (guesstimate – about 10 tables for 4 plus about 4 or 6 “highboy” tables for 2) – additional outside seating on the side street sidewalk during warm weather.
This place is VERY EASY to side-detour and visit from US 22 (less than a mile off) or from I-78 (about 3 miles off) – and I highly recommend stopping in. BONUS…TAKE HOME some of their in-house-made Fresh Hot Italian Sausage – in fact there is usually more than one variety of sausage available.
Final Notes: Closed Sundays – open lunch and (early) dinner hours the other days – check their website for details on hours - giacomosmarket dot com. The menu is there too. During Lent (Late February through Easter), Giacomo’s featured “Lenten Specials” (usually a fish sandwich of some sort) on Fridays – publicized on their FaceBook page – I thought this was a particularly nuanced approach to using social media and I applauded the creativity when I saw it.
So go! Mangia!