Out and About – Mangialardo’s
by Elizabeth Eby
Posted August 3, 2022
I couldn’t have chosen a better day for my visit to Mangialardo’s sub shop. A schools-out kind of feeling floated around the store, even the boss, Tony Mangialardo, couldn’t stop smiling. It was Friday and the last day before the shop closed for vacation. It was also family day, one of Tony’s six children, her husband and son stopped in for a sub and a hug. Another Mangialardo family member took off his apron and came out from the kitchen for the family photo. And, the shop just won a RAMMY award as “hottest sandwich shop” from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington.
Mangialardo’s opened in its present location in 1957. Tony is the third generation of his family to stand behind the very same counter. His great grandfather started out as a lamplighter in New York and then worked his way through Pennsylvania selling produce from a wagon and then a truck. At first it was a corner store and deli but soon the sandwich business took over the whole shop. Customers included a large and regular contingent of FBI agents who invented their own sub. Other customers saw it and started ordering “one of those Gman sandwiches.” It is comparable to an Italian sub with extras. It’s still the best seller.
Here is the Gman sub, on a hard roll with generous amounts of lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mayo and mustard. It felt like it weighed a pound when I carried it home. Unfortunately I wolfed down the other half before I thought about taking a photo. It can be had on a soft roll but the top slice of hard roll makes a built-in edible napkin as it slides along the sandwich when you bite down.
Each of Tony’s six kids has worked in the shop. Tony likes tradition, and he figures one of them will take over when he retires. He likes that the Gman is still the best seller; they still order hard rolls from Catania Bakery on North Capitol. Tony can’t mention Catania without bragging that his grandfather continued to chew those hard rolls without his dentures as a sign of strength and fortitude.
This is not the spot for fancy pants or no crusts. There is not a place to sit – the room is spotless but this is a carry out. You can order by phone, fax or walk in. You can specify a pick up time or ASAP which is usually 30-45 minutes.
Décor is limited to a huge bulletin board entirely covered with customers’ badges, mostly law enforcement and fire crews. Many badges are from out of state. It’s interesting to note how many Federal agencies have their own police force with their own badge.
The menu includes 10 varieties of cold subs: cold cuts, cheese, tuna and chicken salads along with 6 hot subs: pizza, meatball, corned beef, roast beef and variations thereof. Toppings are generous and all subs include cheese unless specified. Chips, slaw, brownies and drinks are the rest of menu. Most subs cost $11. Most sandwiches cost about $11.
Mangialardo’s is located at 1317 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. Parking is catch as catch can but there is often an open space in front of the store. Open M-F, 8-3. Closed Saturday and Sunday
Out and About is an occasional photo feature by artist, photographer, gardener, and Capitol Hill resident Elizabeth Eby. She finds vignettes while out and about on or near Capitol Hill.