Parts of Greenwich Village were once a thriving neighborhood of Italian immigrants, as demonstrated by classic institutions that still linger — pizzeria John’s of Bleecker Street, salumeria Faicco’s Pork Store, Raffetto’s fresh pasta, and such restaurants as Monte’s Trattoria and Villa Mosconi. But during the same era the neighborhood also harbored a large Portuguese population, of which few vestiges remain.
One of those vestiges can be found on the menu of M & O Market, a deli at the corner of Thompson and Prince streets, in a neighborhood that used to be known as the South Village.
Besides selling the usual groceries and beer, the place boasts a counter at the rear where all sorts of hot and cold sandwiches are prepared from a large menu that hangs on the rear wall. Its hot roast beef hero is legendary.
One of the selections found there, among the demi-baguettes and kaiser rolls, is the Portuguese roll, a squat bread shaped like a torpedo, with a slit that runs along the top. These rolls are often seen in bodegas around town, still delivered from bakeries in Newark’s Ironbound. Another Portuguese aspect of the sandwich operation is the first meat listed in the section “Meat Sandwiches”; it offers Portuguese chorizo (more properly “chourico”) on a roll for $7.
The hard sausage is something like a large-bore salami, with little splotches of fat and a winey and funky savor caused by the dry-curing process. Thin-sliced, it makes a great sandwich, whether dressed with mustard, with olive oil and vinegar, or — as I did before the COVID-19 shutdown started — with mayo. The sandwich maker then piled on the sliced sausage, and then heaped the sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and the shop’s wonderful provolone cheese. In that way, both the Portuguese and Italian aspects of the old neighborhood are ably represented.
I’m pleased to report M & O is still operating. Order the sandwich on Seamless or by calling (212) 477-8222. And don’t forget to ask them to put in one of the little custard pies called pasteis de nata.