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Shortstop Deli

204 W. Seneca St., Ithaca, NY - (607) 273-1030
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/20/2009 7:33:00 PM
"HOT TRUCK ROAD TRIP!" So ordained Roadfood team member Marc Bruno at 11:30pm on Saturday, July 5th after the wedding of Stephen and Kristin Rushmore. With Big Steve Rushmore, Cindy and Peter Kuchle, the parents of the bride, the bridesmades, a few other members of the wedding party, and, of course, the newly-minted couple, we piled into a van and headed for the Shortstop Deli.

Marc apologized to us non-Ithacans for the fact that the late-night-sandwiches we were about to experience were not going to be enjoyed at the actual Hot Truck itself, which shows up on the Cornell campus during the school year every evening at 10:30 during the week, 11:00 on weekends, and which is so popular that a one-hour wait for a sandwich isn’t unusual. We were going to the Shortstop Deli, downtown, where genuine Hot Truck sandwiches are available any time, all the time. While he assured us that the food is exactly the same, the experience of dining from a truck cannot be duplicated.

Still, the Shortstop Deli is a gas. More of a big convenience store than a sit-down eatery, it features shelves of snack foods, countless varieties of coffee, and a counter where you write your own order for what is here formally known as a Hot Truck Pizza Sub. There are no tables and chairs, just some concrete benches outside the front window where it is possible to bring your wrapped sandwich and your cup of soda (ten cents with a meal!) and dine al fresco.

The pizza subs are fantastic. Made on loaves of Ithaca Bakery French bread (the same loaf that supports a Pinesburger), they range from the basic PMP (Poor Man’s Pizza), which is nothing but bread, sauce, and cheese, to the extravaganza known as a Suicide (garlic, sauce, mushrooms, sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella). Each one is piled with its ingredients, then baked open-face until the bread is shatteringly crisp, the cheese bubbles, and the meats sizzle.

These sandwiches, originally served by Bob Petrillose from Johnny’s Pizza Truck starting in 1960, have inspired a language all their own. For example, Marc told us that his usual order is a Triple Sui, Hot and Heavy, G and G. That translates as a full Suicide with three extra homemade meatballs, a sprinkle of red pepper, extra garlic, mayonnaise, and lettuce. (G and G = grease and garden, i.e. mayo & lettuce.) An Indy includes link sausage, pepperoni, onion, sauce, and cheese, hot and heavy. A Flaming Turkey Bone Includes chicken breast, tomato sauce, cheese, onions, extra hot and heavy, plus “spontaneous combustion” (double-X hot sauce).

Not only is there a whole dictionary of terms for ordering these sandwiches. Their source itself is so much a part of Ithaca’s culinary culture that the Cornell grad / Hot Truck regulars among our post-wedding party referred to the meal we ate not as “Pizza Subs” or “Hot Truck Sandwiches” but simply as “Hot Truck,” as in Let’s go get some Hot Truck or Did you enjoy your Hot Truck? When you think about it, that’s about the highest compliment a Roadfoodie can pay, to make the name of a restaurant into a proper noun for its cuisine.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A Sui (short for Suicide and pronounced ''soo-ee'') is made on a third of a loaf of bread. This one has a length of sausage added to the pepperoni and ground sausage, mushrooms, sauce, and cheese. Note how crisp the bread is.
"A Sui (short for Suicide and pronounced ''soo-ee'') is made on a third of a loaf of bread. This one has a length of sausage added to the pepperoni and ground sausage, mushrooms, sauce, and cheese. Note how crisp the bread is."
Michael Stern





The Roadfood team at Shortstop Deli. Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rushmore do not normally eat hot truck dressed as you see them here. But considering they married each other about eight hours before this photo was taken, their inappropriate attire can be forgiven! To Stephen's left is Steve Rushmore. To Kristin's right are Cindy Keuchle, Marc Bruno, and yours truly.
"The Roadfood team at Shortstop Deli. Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Rushmore do not normally eat hot truck dressed as you see them here. But considering they married each other about eight hours before this photo was taken, their inappropriate attire can be forgiven! To Stephen's left is Steve Rushmore. To Kristin's right are Cindy Keuchle, Marc Bruno, and yours truly."
Michael Stern


Whenever the craving for hot truck strikes, you can count on Shortstop Deli to supply what you need. This photo was taken around midnight.
"Whenever the craving for hot truck strikes, you can count on Shortstop Deli to supply what you need. This photo was taken around midnight."
Michael Stern


We've never seen such a wide variety of coffees available, particularly in a convenience store. As this one is open all night, the heavy supply of caffeine is probably a good thing.
"We've never seen such a wide variety of coffees available, particularly in a convenience store. As this one is open all night, the heavy supply of caffeine is probably a good thing."
Michael Stern


Here's a Sui slowly emerging from the oven. Marc Bruno asks for his 'high carbon,' meaning run through the oven a second time so it gets super crisp and nearly charred.
"Here's a Sui slowly emerging from the oven. Marc Bruno asks for his 'high carbon,' meaning run through the oven a second time so it gets super crisp and nearly charred."
Michael Stern


There are no seats inside Shortstop Deli. You either take the sandwich home, eat it in the car, or find a seat on the concrete benches just in front of the window.
"There are no seats inside Shortstop Deli. You either take the sandwich home, eat it in the car, or find a seat on the concrete benches just in front of the window."
Michael Stern


The Shortstop Deli is open all the time, but if you want a pizza sub from the van that started the tradition, you need to find this vehicle, parked at the edge of West Campus during the school year each night around 10pm.
"The Shortstop Deli is open all the time, but if you want a pizza sub from the van that started the tradition, you need to find this vehicle, parked at the edge of West Campus during the school year each night around 10pm."
Michael Stern


Hot Truck creator Bob Petrillose's father was making pizzas at Johnny's Big Red Grill long before the Hot Truck started rolling in 1960.
"Hot Truck creator Bob Petrillose's father was making pizzas at Johnny's Big Red Grill long before the Hot Truck started rolling in 1960."
Michael Stern



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