Review: Fozzie's Sandwich Emporium in Richmond Heights
Sitting atop a small hill on a stretch of Big Bend is a small brown building with a green awning that looks like nothing more than a takeout joint with minimal parking and an extensive patio. But inside is host to an emporium: Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium.
With 20 sandwiches, not including the burgers or the hot dogs, the salads or the dips, Fozzie’s extensive menu may be overwhelming to some. The advantage, however, is that there’s something for everyone, including vegetarians.
Let’s start with the house-made spreads, all served with warm pita triangles. The htipiti, made of roasted red pepper, feta, capers and tomato, is flavorful, but with large, unmanageable chunks of red pepper, it’s as hard to eat as it is to pronounce. It seems more like a filling for a wrap than a spread. I’d heard good things about the skordalia – a garlic-potato purée – but each time I tried to order it, they were out.
The Steak Thyme salad, however, is impressive: thin, warm strips of seasoned grilled steak, crispy dried chickpeas and large rectangles of shaved Parmesan served over freshly chopped romaine. A tart and herby lemon-thyme vinaigrette is served on the side; used moderately, it adds a nice acidity to the salad and balances the rich flavor of the steak.
The menu’s eight hot dogs range from veggie to Chicago-style to naked. Somewhere in the middle is Ed’s St. Louis Slaw Dog with mustard, diced white onions, spot peppers, creamy slaw and celery salt. The bun is big and hearty, and the dog is too. But the dog was cold and, frustratingly, we weren’t given the utensils necessary for attack.
Under the Fozzie’s Originals heading is The Big Cheese, a vegetarian panini of melty Swiss, mozz and Gouda with large spinach leaves and oven-dried tomatoes. The sandwich should work well – the ingredients are a well-tested combo, after all – but the wheat bread is too large, making it very hard to eat, and the tough spinach, whose thick stalks had not been removed, overwhelms the salty cheese.
The Classics section of the menu includes standards like a BLT (with a half-pound of bacon), which was fine, if a bit too unwieldy to eat easily. The Chicken Parm – a generous helping of piping-hot, crispy, breaded chicken served on a soft garlic hoagie roll and topped with melted fresh mozzarella and a sweet and pleasantly acidic tomato sauce – is outstanding, its varied textures particularly satisfying.
The Juicy Lucy, a well-flavored half-pound burger stuffed with your choice of Swiss, American or pepper Jack cheese, is served on a toasted bun then piled high with the works, including grilled onions; at $6.95, it’s definitely one of the best deals on the menu. Also in the burger section is the noteworthy Black Bean Burger, made in-house, served with lettuce, roasted peppers and caramelized onion on a grilled bun layered with garlic mayo. The patty holds together well, and its flavor is subtle yet hearty, creating a well-balanced burger that even meat-eaters would crave.
Gyros are available – either chicken or lamb (the lamb is incredibly succulent) – and come dressed with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, feta, olives, pepperoncini and tzatziki sauce on an open-faced pita. A vegetarian version, made with roasted vegetables and hummus, is also offered.
Whatever you end up choosing as your main course, don’t pass up the house-made chips – regular or Parmesan-herb, though I’d suggest the latter. Fozzie’s also boasts a “sweet side,” with shakes and sundaes and toppings to your heart’s content. The Foz-O-licious – a shake made with goat cheese, roasted apples and caramel – is worth a try. It tastes like cheesecake, only shaken.
FILLING UP FOR $20 OR LESS
Dine-In-Ability: With just three small tables inside, carryout’s your best bet.
Feast or Famine: From grinders and a half-pound BLT to a bean burger and a vegetarian gyro, there’s absolutely something for everyone.
Try it, You’ll Like it: Chicken Parm, Black Bean Burger and the Steak Thyme Salad
Where: Fozzie’s Sandwich Emporium, 1170 Big Bend Blvd., Richmond Heights, 314.932.5414
When: Mon. to Fri. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sat. – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
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