More than 3,000 acres and 51 miles of trails await in Andover, and if ridden often, translate to well-earned Dags sandwiches. (Photo: Pavel1964, Getty)

Sandwich Obsessed: the Best Italian Subs on the North Shore of Boston PART 2

Though Andover Village Square is small, it houses a massive name in the Boston sandwich game: D’Agostino’s Delicatessen

Brad Roe

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The premise: After 15 years of thinking only about bikes, riding, training, and European cycling adventures (I’m the founder of Peloton Magazine and the Editorial Director of the Road/Gravel Cycling Group at Outside, Inc.), I’ve come to a point where I just want to focus on one thing: sandwiches. Given my love of Italy, the most direct course to feed this need is old-school Italian delis somewhat adjacent to local gravel rides. I hope you’ll follow along.

(Read PART 1 of my journey reviewing Virgilio’s in Gloucester.)

D’Agostino’s Delicatessen
The Dags has mortadella, salami, and a provolone blend topped the peppers, olive oil, and torpedo-shaped bread.

D’Agostino’s Delicatessen (“Dags”) in Andover, MA

Location: D’Agostino’s Delicatessen, 93 Main St., Andover, MA 

The city of Andover, home to Phillips Academy prep school (founded in 1778) and a short distance from Merrimack College, boasts a youthful downtown full of restaurants and activity. My interest, however, is not in schools or colleges or city infrastructure, it’s in Italian deli sandwiches—specifically, D’Agostino’s sandwiches. 

Dags is located in the Andover Village Square and, despite being small, it’s well-appointed with sandwiches, of course, but also breads, cookies, sauces, and take-away lasagna and baked pasta dishes. (The original 1968 Dags is a mainstay in Winchester, MA and the Andover location, which opened in 2015, is an extension of that popularity.) After a short conversation with staff who proudly state that the Italian is by far the best-selling sandwich, I ordered mine on a sub roll with everything— hot peppers galore. In fact, I ordered two. I’ve found in life that if you find something good, it’s always smart to double up. 

The torpedo-shaped bread is soft, chewy, and dense enough to handle all of its toppings without getting weak and soggy. (Photo: Brad Roe)

The Italian

The Italian begins life on a Piantedosi Baking Co.’s sub roll. The torpedo-shaped bread is soft, chewy, and dense enough to handle a light drip of olive oil and hot peppers without compromising its purpose as a safe haven for the generous portions of mortadella, provolone, and a true gold mine of thinly sliced salami. The meat and cheese sit atop the roll, becoming a blanket of taste for the hot peppers and olive oil to rest upon.

This is where I have to point out the packaging. The sandwich is smartly wrapped using two types of paper adorned with a sticker—to which you’re probably wondering, why does this matter? Because at my core, I’m a cyclist and like my heroes and heroines of the Giro d’Italia, I want to be able to put this slim and aerodynamic sammy in my bike jersey, ride to the seashore, and rest and eat in peace while I recover from whatever ails me. 

I can’t adequately express how well the mortadella, salami, and provolone blend with the peppers and olive oil, and how the bread completes the flavor crescendo. Due to the exquisite design of this sandwich and its wrapping, you only need one small napkin post meal to clean your fingers and mouth and move on with your day or ride. It’s elegant, simple, and beautiful. I’ve thought about this Italian quite a bit since my last visit and rest assured it’s at the top of the North Shore Italian sub podium. 

Local Gravel Ride Nearby

As I mentioned in my first sandwich stakeout, at this stage of my life, I’m in a sandwich first, ride later person. However, since it’s 75 degrees out and the riding is amazing on the North Shore, check out the Harold Parker State Forest trails. More than 3,000 acres and 51 miles of trails await, and if ridden often, translate to well-earned Dags sandwiches. 

The pilgrimage continues…next stop: Gloria Food Store founded in 1936 in Beverly, MA.

Lead Photo: Pavel1964, Getty