First Bite: Cutty’s

In Brookline Village, a perfection-minded proprietor turns out one wicked 'wich.

Photograph by Michael Piazza.

Photograph by Michael Piazza.

Boston isn’t really a sandwich town. We’ve got Parish Café and All Star, but both have peaked by now, and no one has raised the sub to an art form in the way that, say, Gus Toscanini elevated ice cream.

Philadelphia, home of hoagies and cheese steaks, is a sandwich town. And erstwhile Philadelphian Charles Kelsey has brought that obsession — filtered through a Culinary Institute of America education and several years in the Cook’s Illustrated test kitchens — to the Hub.

Cutty’s, his breakfast-and-lunch spot in Brookline Village, offers granola, coffee cake, and pastries (with egg sammies coming soon) in the mornings. For lunch, there are solid salads (like the winning chickpea-carrot combo) and soups (a superlatively tangy tomato). But Kelsey’s skills shine best when he’s stacking meat between slices of fresh-baked Iggy’s Bread.

Take the spuckie. Lifelong Bostonians will recognize the old-school name for Italian subs (the word comes from spucadella bread, according to the reigning theory). Kelsey layers his with house-made mozzarella, mortadella, salami, and an olive relish cribbed from New Orleans–style muffulettas. Sandwiches like these are so simple, there’s no hiding mediocre ingredients behind twirled-up technique.

Even better is the house-roasted beef, so popular that Kelsey says he should’ve named the place Cutty’s Roast Beef. The meat, with its perfectly rosy core, is sliced and topped with crispy shallots, Thousand Island dressing, and cheddar. No stray bits of sinew or fat here — you barely need teeth to chew it. Vegetarians (if they’ve made it this far) will love the eggplant spuckie, which replaces cold cuts with tender roasted eggplant.

Our one beef with the whole operation? The limited sweets menu. A great sandwich, in our view, requires a nice big cookie finish — maybe a brownie? — and Cutty’s offers just Rice Krispies treats and some small (if tasty) brown sugar or chocolate chip cookies to nibble. You brought back the spuckie, Kelsey. Now how about some snickerdoodles?

284 Washington St., Brookline, 617-505-1844,