When you think of a great eating experience in Atlantic City, you probably think schwanky casino restaurant recently opened by the newest darling celeb chef. And while that would be a fun experience if you had the extra cashola (or if you got lucky with a slot machine), one of our favorite places to eat in town is a sub shop a couple of blocks down from the boards.
If you already know about White House Subs, then I’m sure that I am preaching to the choir; but for those who don’t and wonder why I’m making a big deal about a simple sub shop, listen up. I was always a bit skeptical when I would read my Zagat Survey and see White House with such high marks for food. I mean, it’s just a sub shop, right? And let’s face it, Jersey is up to its collective eyeballs in sub and hoagie shops. So what’s the big deal?
It’s real simple: you use quality ingredients (like homemade baked bread and top notch cold cuts), you overstuff your sandwiches, and you keep the prices down. It’s a formula that has worked for them since 1946. Sinatra loved them. Cosby and George Clooney still love them.
When you go to White House, your experience may vary based on whether you eat in or take out. If you eat in, be prepared to wait a while on line outside. If you take out, be prepared to wait a while on line inside. Needless to say, the place is busy. But this will allow you time to peruse the menu so that you’re all ready when it’s time to order.
So there we were on Labor Day, waiting outside for a booth. After a little while, we ended up chatting a bit with the folks in line. Despite the wait, everyone was in a good mood. Well, heck yeah, they know that a White House sammich will be the end result of their journey! Compared to the ever-present barrage of sound and lights in the casinos, a wait on line with regular folks like ourselves at White House was a welcome change-there were no pretensions here. We were all there, regardless of who we were or whether or not we had won a nice tidy sum at the card table the night before, for one purpose: to eat well. Finally, we got the “Next!” call, and we grabbed our booth.
Now, I want you to understand something about the waitstaff at White House: they are nice, but would prefer it if you had your order ready to go upon request and without too many modifications. If you can do this, you and your waitress will get along just fine, thankyouverymuch. Being familiar with the routine, Lisa and I had our orders all ready to go. Lisa got herself a cheesesteak, and I went for the cappocolla, salami and provolone sub with everything: lettuce, tomato, onions and chopped hot peppers.
Once again, hunger took precedence over photojournalism. Sandwiches here come in half and whole sizes. What you see here is half of a half. These are good-sized sandwiches; you won’t leave the place hungry. Lisa’s cheesesteak was very good; not as good as Gaetano’s in Willingboro, but very tasty nonetheless, with nicely fried onions and melted provolone. My sub was a stuffed bundle of joy. Every bite was full of meat, cheese and toppings. Don’t underestimate the value of the chopped peppers; they bring an added spice to the party. And I can’t forget to mention the baked bread, which was nice and crusty on the outside, but soft with a nice mouth feel on the inside.
While eating, you can’t help but admire the sheer volume of photos on the wall of the famous folks who have enjoyed these same subs: the aforementioned Sinatra, Cosby and Clooney, along with Elvis and The Beatles – just to name a few. We also enjoyed looking at the older photos of White House itself and the staff over the years, like the Christmas party in the restaurant in 1956, as well as the photos of founder Anthony Basile in his Army uniform. One month after his return from the Pacific in 1946, he started White House Subs. A great American success story, no doubt.
At Harrah’s, the place where we stayed overnight this past weekend, there’s a food court in the new section by The Pool called Taste of the Shore. And it includes such famous Jersey names as Ben and Jerry’s (from the Vermont section of Jersey) and the Philly Soft Pretzel Factory. They didn’t need to bother; a wonderful taste of Jersey is already taking place over on Arctic Ave. White House Subs is exactly what the casinos along the Boardwalk are not: completely and utterly Jersey…and it shows no signs of slowing down. So have your order ready, OK? – John
White House Subs – 2301 Arctic Ave, Atlantic City. 609.345.1564.