Red Hook’s sandwich heroes: Gourmet grocers bring broccoli rabe to Sandy-ravaged section

Like most of the small shops, restaurants and cafes in Red Hook, the newly opened Court Street Grocers Hero Shop feels to a visitor like just the kind of place you would want to become a regular at. The interior is clean and calm, outfitted in white tile and flooded with light by the front-facing windows. A fresh stack of newspapers and magazines sits on the wooden counters, where a few stools serve as the only seating available in the shop. Old-fashioned sodas like Cheerwine sit pleasantly next to the cash register.

But do not let the calm of the shop trick you into thinking the sandwiches will be simple fare. This place takes sandwich-making seriously in much the same way as Saltie, the creative sandwich shop in Williamsburg to which the Red Hook joint seems like a close cousin.

The Hero Shop is the first outgrowth of Court Street Grocers, the nearby gourmet foods store which has been putting together gourmet sandwiches for years, and the new store carries the torch of quality ingredients and just enough creativity to keep you coming back.

“We found a mid-ground between seasonality and classic American sandwiches,” said owner Eric Finkelstein, who designed the menu with his business partner Matt Ross and Court Street Grocers chef Joey Chmiko.

The approach is clear in the Ollie ($9), which incorporates broccoli rabe and Sriracha honey into a classic American sandwich of roast turkey, provolone cheese and mayo. The broccoli rabe sits between soft hunks of sesame hero, adding heft and flavor without overpowering the sandwich, while the sriracha honey keeps it spicy and light on its feet. The Yasha ($9) likewise takes an American classic — the tuna sandwich — and makes it sing with Annie’s Goddess Dressing, herbs and pickled lemon.

The sandwiches speak for themselves now, but bringing them to eager eaters was no easy task for the store’s proprietors, who took over the space in July 2012 and were in the midst of setting up shop when superstorm Sandy inundated Red Hook. The setback did not phase the sandwich slingers, though.

“Not opening was not ever something we discussed. We love Red Hook,” Finkelstein said.

Court Street Grocers Hero Shop [116 Sullivan St., between Van Brunt and Conover streets in Red Hook, (347) 529–6803, www.courtstreetgrocers.com/redhook].

Will Levitt is a Brooklyn-based food writer. Follow him on Twitter @UnderEggWill.

More from Around New York