Each episode will feature three competing sandwiches from a given region, with America's best crowned in the finale from among the 10 regional winners and two "wild cards" voted on by viewers. In the case of the June 6 installment, it's sandwiches of the Northeast.
For the first show Richman will sample Dinic's roast pork with aged provolone and peppers, forgoing the greens. Katz's entry will be a corned beef-pastrami combo on rye with cole slaw and Russian dressing. From Primanti's he'll try the Cap & Egg, a behemoth featuring capicola, runny egg, cole slaw, tomato and hand-cut french fries on sliced Italian bread.
That's pretty stiff competition for Dinic's, especially Katz's, where I usually go for the straight pastrami on rye with mustard. Nonetheless, Richman's combo is well-known to deli enthusiasts in New York and New Jersey. At one deli I frequented, the pastrami-CB with russian and slaw was known as the "No. 5" combo, where at another it was the "No. 4". Who's to quibble over a number, it's a great combo sandwich.
I've never been to Primanti's, though I'll have to add it to my wish list. Still, to me it sounds like the "Cap & Egg" looses it when you add the tomatoes, slaw and fries: not just simply too massive, but out of flavor balance.
So I think it will come down to a battle between DiNic's and Katz's. The conventional wisdom says Katz's -- by virtue of its celebrity, the "When Harry Met Sally" scene filmed there, and that fact that it's the New York City entry -- will run away with the prize for this episode.
While I love a good pastrami sandwich (and Katz's makes a great one), I'll be rooting for our local hero. The roast pork that Tom and Joe Nicolosi and crew concoct can go toe-to-toe with Katz's anytime. Their brisket and pulled pork aren't too shabby, either, and I've got friends who skip all of that in favor of the sausage with peppers.
The second episode, at 9:30 p.m. the same night, will be a battle of Gulf Coast sandwiches: a shrimp po' boy form New Orleans, and two entries from Tampa, a variation on the Cuban, and a Grouper reuben.