11 Best Subs In New Jersey, Ranked

New Jersey is known for many culinary delights, and submarine sandwiches are chief among them. The very name "submarine" was coined in Paterson, where Italian immigrant Dominic Conti supposedly first used the phrase to describe the large sandwiches he sold at his grocery store. Many historians dispute this claim, arguing that the submarine sandwich can be traced to an actual submarine base in Groton, Connecticut, where soldiers wolfed down thousands starting in the mid-1920s. 

That origin story makes plenty of sense, but New Jersey's claim to the sub sandwich remains plenty strong — not just from legend but also because of what the state continues to cook up. Most people now know of Jersey Mike's, the popular sandwich chain which started as a humble sub shop in Point Pleasant. Jersey Mike's has elevated and introduced New Jersey's passion for great sandwiches to the entire country. Still, countless sandwich shops, delis, and markets are cranking out delicious (and equally famous) subs across the Garden State. Some are simple riffs on a classic Italian combo, while others are loaded with fried goodies and other specialty ingredients. Celebrities have enjoyed quite a few; one even starred in a hit NBC sitcom.

Whether you've got a hankering for something traditional or a little more unpredictable, make sure to bring your wallet and an empty stomach because we're taking you on a tour of the best sub sandwiches New Jersey has to offer.

11. Chicken Parmagiana from Carmine's Italian Deli (Jersey City)

Let's start this ranking off by stating something for the record: You can get a really good chicken parm at countless places throughout New Jersey. We're not here to debate that. If you throw a dart blindfolded at a map of the state, odds are it lands within a few miles of a place with a chicken parm its locals swear by. And that makes sense — breaded chicken with marinara sauce and melted mozzarella is a hard sandwich to screw up. As long as you've got a well-made cutlet and sauce that's not too sweet or acidic, you'll probably be fine.

We've put Carmine's chicken parm here, though, because it really is that good. It might be difficult to get chicken parm wrong, but it's just as hard to pump out consistent quality chicken parm the way Carmine's does. This place is a Jersey City staple and one of several Italian delis on the list we wish we could visit more often. You might feel a little nostalgic ordering a sandwich here, and that's okay. If tried-and-true chicken parm with marinara isn't really your bag, try it with Carmine's famous vodka sauce that customers consistently rave about. It might not be as traditional, but we'd argue it's just as tasty.

10. Fat Darrell from RU Hungry? (New Brunswick/Newark)

No respectable ranking of New Jersey subs would be complete without a fat sandwich. These monstrosities have been satiating drunk college students and overly-hungry lunch rushers for decades. RU Hungry? carries on the legacy that started with grease trucks on College Avenue in New Brunswick in the late 1970s. It's been featured on a number of different television shows, including Man v. Food, and Maxim Magazine rated its Fat Darrell as the best sandwich in the country back in 2004.

One look at the ingredient list, and it's easy to see how this ode to gluttony earned that ranking. The Fat Darrell comes loaded with french fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken fingers with a heap of marinara sauce. It's not what we would call a particularly refined sandwich since this is basically a pizza place's appetizer platter stuffed into bread, but that's part of what makes it so legendary. You'd also be hard-pressed to find a better food option after a long night of drinking, whether it's eaten the same night, the next morning, or, more realistically, the following afternoon. You might want to get your blood pressure checked after this one, or at the very least, take a good, long nap. If you're not into fried foods on your sandwich, there are countless other fat sandwich options here, but if you're going to indulge, you might as well go all in.

9. No. 17 from Cangiano's (Jersey City)

We love a sandwich piled high with meat, cheese, sauce, and occasionally a fried appetizer or two. But we also know how to appreciate simplicity — sometimes a few quality ingredients playing perfectly off each other is as good as it gets. That's what you receive when you order the No. 17 at Cangiano's in Jersey City, which consists of beautiful prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, and spicy fig jam.

You really can't go wrong at Cangiano's. It's a classic Italian deli and market that plays all the hits well, and its numbered menu surely has something to whet the appetite of even the pickiest sandwich orderer in your family or friend group. But there's something to be said about the salty, fatty prosciutto contrasting against the sweet spiciness of the jam. The mozzarella rounds out the entire affair with added moisture and that subtle flavor accentuating the salt and fruit. Think of this as a sandwich version of prosciutto and melon; only it's way better because no one actually likes cantaloupe.

8. Joe Leone's Italian Combo from Joe Leone's (Point Pleasant/Manasquan)

When you're making a "best of" list of New Jersey subs, there are bound to be at least a few Italian combos on it. Joe Leone's version makes the cut as a beautiful collection of cured meats — salami, prosciutto, capicola — as well as lettuce, red onion, tomato, and a thick slab of fresh mozzarella. It's as straightforward as it is spectacular, conjuring up images of lunches on beach road trips from years gone by.

With locations in Point Pleasant and Manasquan, a stop at Joe Leone's is practically an obligation if you're headed down the shore (or on your way back). The menus change monthly, and the sandwich menu is customizable, with everything from different meats to types of bread. The Italian combo works best on ciabatta for our money, but we will only give you grief if you decide to get it on a classic baguette or some of Joe Leone's fantastic focaccia. It makes for an absolutely sublime beach lunch — just be sure to keep the sand out of all those layers of meat.

7. Cuban Sandwich from La Pola (West New York)

Okay, you got us. A Cuban sandwich isn't technically a sub. But when you've got one as exemplary as La Pola's in West New York, it at least deserves mention, right? This is arguably the most famous sandwich in north Jersey, and if you're near Palisade Ave — or Bergenline, or JFK Boulevard, or really anywhere within a several-mile radius — you simply have to stop in for this sandwich. The late chef and Food Network contributor Carl Ruiz called it the best Cuban sandwich in the entire United States, beating out classics from Tampa, Miami, and other familiar Floridian cities.

What you order is exactly what you get here — a damn good Cuban sandwich made with freshly sliced sweet ham, pernil, delicious pickles, Swiss cheese, mayo, and mustard pressed between bread from Cuban Bakery in nearby Union City. It's hard to beat a classic that's done as well as possible, and that's exactly what La Pola has. If you're not in the mood for a regular Cubano, the Especial De La Casa (essentially a Cuban sandwich with salami and chorizo added to the mix) is also a banger.

6. Cheesesteak from Sugar Hill Sub Shop (May's Landing)

Sugar Hill Sub Shop is home to the self-proclaimed "fattest subs in South Jersey" — or at least that's what the sign outside says. We won't challenge that, either, because some of these are true behemoths. The highlight of the menu has to be the regular ol' cheesesteak. There are several different varieties here, including ones with bacon, Buffalo sauce, and pizza sauce, to name a few, but they can't beat the original. Stuffed with thinly sliced steak and cheese, you might not be able to find a better one in New Jersey (or in Philly, which is a little under an hour's drive away).

However, we need to give honorable mention to the rest of the menu because Sugar Hill Sub Shop is loaded with wild subs for "dangerous and intriguing" customers. Our favorite might be the Gut Buster, which is steak with sauteed onions, mushrooms, stuffed peppers, mozzarella, pepperoni, and hot pepper cheese. Ultimately, we'll stick with the cheesesteak, but goodness gracious.

5. Crispy Chicken with Cheese from Denaro's (Dumont)

Ah, the humble breaded chicken cutlet. It's been balancing veggies, absorbing sauce, and carrying countless meals all over the globe for years. There may be nothing in this world better than a perfectly crispy chicken cutlet — unless, of course, you put it on bread with toppings.

The Crispy Chicken with Cheese from Denaro's in Dumont is a tribute to the chicken cutlet, dressing it up simply with the aforementioned American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, and ranch dressing if you're really leaning in. Really, it doesn't much matter what toppings you add because the cutlet and cheese are the primetime players. But don't sleep on Denaro's fresh bread, which is super soft and provides an extra textural contrast against the crunch of the cutlet and whatever veggies you decide to slap between it. Be forewarned, though — Denaro's is well known for running out of that gorgeous bread, so be sure to get there early enough to ensure yourself a chance at this beauty.

4. Deluxe Italian from Bagliani's (Hammonton)

Bagliani's in Hammonton is the kind of Italian market we all wish we lived within walking distance of. From its absurdly large cheese selection to homemade sauces, prepackaged meals, and barrels of imported olives, we could spend hours just wandering around this joint and ogling selection of fresh products.

Look alive, though, because we're here for a sub, and when you get one here, you're naturally going to want to go Italian — Deluxe Italian, that is. We can't even play this one up because the name gives it away. It contains two types of salami, two types of capicola, prosciutto, provolone, and — drumroll please — marinated eggplant (which differentiates it from the regular Italian). That might seem like too much, but trust us; it's not. Any combination of cured meats and cheese will work well, and the eggplant is an added flavorful and textural bonus. The whole ordeal is served on an Atlantic City roll and available in bambino, half, or whole sizes. If you're going for the latter, make sure you've either got a friend to share with or nothing to do for a few hours. Bagliani's also has a dedicated sandwich line for customers to call and order from — as if we didn't already love this place enough.

3. Ole' from Toney Baloney's (Hoboken/Atlantic City)

We've already had a cheesesteak on this list, but how about a Mexican one? Tony Boloney's Ole' is the fusion sub you never knew you needed. It takes everything great about a typical cheesesteak — namely that it's a large sandwich filled with delicious beef — and adds ingredients like Mexican string cheese, chipotle sauce, and fried onions. This isn't a complicated sandwich, but simplicity and execution result in a sub that's utterly craveable. Seriously, be prepared to rethink everything you thought about cheesesteaks (even if all you knew was that cheese whiz usually goes on the best of 'em).

Tony Boloney's has locations in both Hoboken and Atlantic City, so whether you're north or south, you've got a chance to try this absolute gem of a sandwich. The menu here is extensive, though, and replete with interesting sandwich options like the Punjabo Parm (chicken or cauliflower tikka masala, mozzarella, and green chutney) and the Boloney Rex (a bone-in short rib with white cheese wiz and caveman sauce). We can't even fathom that being placed between bread, but then again, we hardly believe how good the Ole' is, either.

2. White House Special from White House Subs (Atlantic City)

If any of the places on this list can be described as an "institution," White House Subs is it. This humble sandwich shop on Arctic Avenue in Atlantic City has been serving succulent subs since 1946, and not just to locals. Countless celebrities have frequented this place, and their framed pictures line the walls, including the Beatles, Oprah Winfrey, and, naturally, New Jersey's own Frank Sinatra.

Stop us if you've heard this before, but there's no bad order at White House Subs. The cheesesteaks are great, and any combination of cold cuts and fresh veggies you can conjure up will surely rank among the very best deli sandwiches you've ever eaten. Suppose you want an idea of what this place is all about, though. In that case, you're ordering the White House Special, which is a monster Italian sub packed with fresh ingredients, including extra portions of salami, ham, provolone, capicola, and plenty of onions. And if you're really about it, you're ordering the whole size, which measures close to two feet long. Bring a pal to share it with, or skip a meal or two before you get ready to dig in. This is both the best and most legendary Italian sub sandwich in the state, and we're here to pay our respects.

1. Roast Beef from Fiore's House of Quality (Hoboken)

We've reached the top spot, and now that you're here, you realize it couldn't be anything other than the roast beef and mozzarella special from Fiore's House of Quality. We might've jumped the gun a bit on the whole "institution" line because Fiore's was founded in 1913 (albeit originally as a cheese shop) and is as popular in Hoboken as Ol' Blue Eyes Francis Albert Sinatra himself (back-to-back Sinatra mentions in the top two only feel right.) The only reason we said the Cubano from La Pola is "arguably" the most famous sandwich in North Jersey is because Fiore's roast beef most definitely is. In fact, it's the most famous sub in the entire state and even inspired an episode of the classic sitcom "30 Rock."

Fiore's roast beef is only available on Thursdays and Saturdays, so plan ahead and expect a wait when you arrive in the form of a line that stretches well outside the door. There's no menu here, so have an idea of what you want when you get to the front. Just know that if it's not the roast beef, it's a mistake — not because Fiore's other options aren't fantastic (they absolutely are), but because this sandwich is truly that transcendent. If you like spice, be sure to opt for hot peppers, and no matter what else you do, make sure you order a side of dipping sauce for the complete experience. You'll thank us later.