Richman's top three included the roast pork from DiNic's; the Yardbird from Slow's in Detroit, which has smoked chicken breast drenched in mustard sauce, tossed with sautéed mushrooms and slathered with cheddar cheese, and piled with bacon; and a chicken conquistador sandwich at Zunzi's in Savannah, Ga., which is basically chicken, Italian dressing, and "secret sauce" along with tomatoes and lettuce on a baguette.
Other finalists looked good, too: a shrimp po'boy from Domilise's in New Orleans; Al's Beef in Chicago; the CSS Virginia sandwich at the Black Sheep diner in Richmond, Va.; a roast beef sandwich piled with fries and homemade béchamel sauce from the Big-Ass Sandwiches food truck in Portland, Ore.; an El Toro BBQ sandwich from Phil's BBQ in San Diego; the seared beef tongue sandwich from the Noble Pig in Austin, Texas; and the lobster roll at the Galley Restaurant & Pub in Naples, Maine. John's Roast Pork was one of two wild cards tossed into the mix.
"It feels very relaxing now," co-owner Joe Nicolosi said during a viewing party at the market just after he was declared the winner. The finale was taped a month ago in New York, and Nicolosi was sworn to secrecy. "It's good to have this behind me. It's been nerve-racking."
No one outside the family knew, he said, but produce vendor Vinny Iovine had a hunch.
Nicolosi said: "He's a smart fellow. He remembered something I said before [going to New York], that the only way I'd have a viewing party is if I knew I won."
Aside from glory, what did DiNic's win?
"We get business," Nicolosi said, declining to divulge sales figures. "I will take that any day of the week."