A little ways down Lee Highway, away from the more high-profile Arlington hot spots—like Michael Landrum's expanding stable of "Ray's" restaurants—is The Italian Store. It's a smallish Italian grocery and deli where, if you're willing to brave the often 30+ minute waits during peak hours and cadre of well-meaning but inattentive young men behind the sandwich counter, you'll be rewarded with one of the best Italian subs in the D.C. area.
My particular favorite is The Roma ($6.99). Served on a hard or soft Italian roll with prosciutto, smoked mortadella, genoa salami, and provolone, The Roma will make you groan with longing the next time you're forced to resort to Subway. The excellent cold cuts are tender and rich; the smokiness and spices are a compelling reminder that you're eating at a quality deli. Topped off by sweet and hot peppers, lettuce, tomato, onions, oregano, and olive oil, the added sweetness and crunch lend The Roma extra complexity to the flavors and texture.
The best strategy is to call ahead and skip the lines, but if that's not an option, you can pass the time by choosing an Italian wine or a 5-kg jug of Nutella (as big as your head!). Either way, the wait will be worth it.
The Italian Store
About the author: Brian Oh is a Washington, DC based international development professional, food lover, and photographer. In his free time, you can usually find him chasing down a good burger or slice. Follow him on Twitter @brianoh11