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Robert Sietsema

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What to Order at Byggyz, NYC's Quirky New Sandwich Shop

A first look at Dewey Dufresne's LES entry

Those who hung around WD-50 in the early days — say, 2003 — will be well acquainted with chef Wylie Dufresne’s dad, Dewey Dufresne. In addition to having a hand in designing the place, he worked the room as his son labored in the kitchen, going from table to table greeting and jollying up the guests.

It turns out Dewey Dufresne owned a Providence sandwich shop, with the young Wylie working there when he was a kid. Fast forward 40-plus years and Dufresne pere now has a sandwich shop on Clinton Street, near where WD-50 once was. It had been rumored for six years, and in construction for the last two. With the consonant-heavy name of Byggyz, the place is small with only a few seats. The decor features whimsical wall coverings, including a collection of giant cans of pickled peppers and the fabled Duke’s mayonnaise, both of which figure prominently in the sandwiches.

There’s a menu of five sandwiches for starters, served on seeded 8-inch hero rolls or slices of marble rye baked in the Bronx at Leaven & Companions. There are also two sides, and an ice cream novelty made by Wylie Dufresne exclusively for the shop. Here’s the rundown from both Eater critics:

Byggybeef

There are two variations on this beef sandwich, the flagship of the fleet, priced at $12.50 and $16.50, plus tax. Both feature braised beef, American cheese, pickled vegetables, hot peppers, and homemade sauce on a seeded hero roll. The sandwich proved satisfying in a gloppy sort of way, but I had the feeling there were too many pickle-y things in the filling, adding a sharpness that didn’t benefit the beef. As for the meat, let’s say the quantity was not overwhelming. Would I buy the sandwich again? If I were in the neighborhood — but I couldn’t help thinking I’d rather have a roast beef hero from Faicco’s at a similar price. — Robert Sietsema

Braised beef, American cheese, hot peppers that aren’t really that hot, special sauce, all on a sesame hoagie: Essentially the basic elements of a good hamburger — I put hot peppers on most of my burgers — but with slow-cooked short rib, full of beefy musk, in lieu of a patty. It’s pretty good! Definitely your go-to order here. — Ryan Sutton

Byggybyrd

Made on two slices of marble rye, the basis of this assemblage is a fanciful interpretation of turducken, the composed meat roll that places a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. Here, the turkey is symbolized by turkey roll heated in the steamer, the chicken by chicken liver pate, and the duck by sliced duck breast — except the sandwich I received had no discernible duck breast. Since that’s the most expensive and difficult-to-source ingredient in the sandwich, I felt cheated, especially with the $13.50 price tag. Nevertheless, the sandwich also contained artichoke hearts, roast tomatoes, and arugula, and was really the best thing I tried at Byggyzz, apart from the ice cream sandwich. — Sietsema

The “turducken” involves a reasonably heady slab of chicken liver pate overpowering a mushy collection of chicken liver pate, red onion, (almost invisible to the palate) smoked duck breast, muenster, roast tomatoes, artichokes, arugula, mango mayo. Skip it. — Sutton

Veggylotta

Veggylotta Photo by Robert Sietsema

The vegetarian offering is a heap of damp vegetable matter, most of it pickled or canned, with no apparent focus. Still, canned red pepper strips and dill (or is it fennel?) are the most prominent components, while the things you really want in a sandwich — the Muenster cheese and, for me, the creamy cannellini white beans — have little impact on flavor or texture. At least the sandwich is a better value: At $11.50, it’s guaranteed to fill you up, and the bread is good. — Sietsema

As vegan and vegetarian fare continues to command object-of-desire status from mainstream omnivores, New York has been enjoying a boom in meat-free sandwiches. Byggyz is not part of that boom. The one vegetarian option doesn’t have any mind-bending mushroom terrines, salty tapenade, or exceedingly rich tahini smears. The one vegetarian option involves an indistinct blend of peppers, beans, broccoli, artichokes and Muenster. It is the sandwich equivalent of a bunch of sides on a roll, which is how restaurants used to accommodate folks who didn’t eat meat, except if they were true side dishes they might have salt or acid, with this sandwich doesn’t. It is the opposite of delicious. — Sutton

Pyggy

Pork pate, red onion, American prosciutto, cheddar, sweet and sour pickles, arugula and mustard on a sesame hoagie: Essentially, a American banh mi of sorts, without the turbo-charged acidity of aggressively pickled slaw, the aromatics of cilantro, or alluring spice. It’s not so much a banh mi as a salty pate sandwich that imparts a gentle livery funk from the terrine, a salty, porky musk from the ham, and a moderate spice from the mustard. It could use some pucker power –– maybe some more assertive pickles, but that aside, it ranks with the beef as one of the two sandwiches worth ordering here. — Sutton

Tuna SOF

Stands for tuna “South of France,” which is sort of like calling a Papa John’s pie “Naples.” Expect a fat layer of cooked wild albacore, with artichokes, red onions, anchovy, roast tomato, arugula, cooked egg, and mustard, and tapenade — lots of tapenade. It’s not so much a study in the nuances of rich tuna, high quality boulangerie, and olives as is the case at Breads Bakery. Rather, Dufresne’s sandwich turns out to be an indistinct mash of a sandwich, punctuated by an unwelcome, gherkin-like sweetness. It’s served over marble rye that soggs up before the over-chilled tuna has a chance to reach room temperature. Sutton

Sides

Once again, pickled things dominate both sides, which must be a convenient expedient for the restaurant. Byggyveg ($4.50) is a slaw of pickled purple cabbage and carrots that seems more like a sandwich topping, while beans and greens ($5.75) is a little better, with white beans, pumpkin seeds, and some green vegetables that are slightly bitter and difficult to identify. Not bad. — Sietsema

Du’s @ Byggyz

The ice cream sandwich is quite good, with a split old-fashioned doughnut from Du’s, a filling of (not quite enough) marmalade ice cream, and a rolling of some chocolate-y crunchies on the outside circumference. I’m not a fan of Du’s Donuts, but this ice cream sandwich is exceptional, down to the slightly bitter aftertaste of the marmalade. — Sietsema

The early takeaway

While Byggyz avoids the molecular gastronomy label that might be conferred on it by the owner’s surname alone, it does partake of the post-Top Chef zeitgeist. With too many ingredients, these are sandwiches designed for flash but not flavor. Also, they’re expensive and the ingredients hardly luxurious for the price. Sietsema

Dufresne is selling sandwiches, five to be precise. That’s the good news. The not so good news is that an early visit showed a venue that isn’t quite ready for prime time. Sutton

BYGGYZ

37-39 Clinton Street, Manhattan, NY 10002 (212) 475-0040 Visit Website
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