Something almost magical happens to a Costello's sandwich when it's put inside the oven: your meal doesn't simply emerge nice and warm, it stiffens to a golden-brown crisp on the outside while the inside ingredients mingle and melt into an otherworldly tenderness. In short, you get two delicious textures in a single sandwich.
For nearly a decade, the brother and sister behind Costello's have been adding a little heat to the traditional deli-inspired sammie to create a menu filled with mouth-stuffingly good eats, the signature oven-baked sandwiches being the most popular among them.
Seemingly everything on the menu has a little punch, from the thick, meaty, stick-to-your-ribs Spicy Roscoe, with all its layers of capicola (and Italian salami), pepper crusted turkey, spicy cheese and fixings, to the luscious mac and cheese side dish spiked with tiny chipotle peppers. Vegetarians can bite into the Village Vegetarian with provolone, muenster and hummus on multi-grain bread or Grandma Costello's hearty mostaccioli marinara.
With the patterned flooring, Crayola-painted chairs and cabana-style awning, Costello's has a cheery, if not cartoonish, feel. But wonky color scheme aside, the aged family photos, blaring chalkboard menu and near-constant toastiness offer a familiar neighborhood touch to the Roscoe Village eatery.
When the weather is warmer than the oven inside—or during lunch hours when the two-dozen or so seats are already taken—Costello's offers a small alfresco dining area. Pickup and delivery options are also available to those willing to compromise some of the fresh-from-the-oven crispness. For under $10, you can walk away with a sandwich, chips, pretzels or an apple plus a side dish and drink (for most items, at least). Costello's also offers a selection of salads (antipasto, Southwest chicken, chicken caesar and garden), a small shelf of cookie and bar desserts and shakes, malts and specialty sodas.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Kim Bellware