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Deli Italiano 

Fab finds at Fabiano's

The cozy wood interior at Fabiano's has become home to those looking for freshly made sandwiches while watching the latest game. The counters and bar stools are often lined with Midtowners catching a bite to eat and staring up at the screen in the corner. Me? I'd rather check out the deli case of meats, antipasto and cheese. Or peruse the selection of olive oils, vinegars, rice for risotto and chocolates. Most days, you'll find the manager, known as "Ice," laughing and telling stories to Grady High School kids and yuppies. Pick up a menu pad, circle your selections on the sheet and hand it over. Then you'll have a little time to check it out for yourself.

HOT: The traditional hot sandwiches are my favorites. On the Reuben ($5.95) -- corned beef or turkey -- the meat is sliced fresh and piled on heavy with plenty of kraut between two buttery toasted slices of Jewish rye. The bread comes fresh from the East 48th Street Market in Dunwoody and the difference shows. The Deli Cowboy ($5.95) is a mouth-watering special: thin, salty slices of warm, Texas beef brisket, onions and green bell peppers with melted Provolone and mega, sinus-opening amounts of deli mustard on a hoagie. The hoagie, with its moist, sweet core really delivers. The sausage hoagie ($5.95) lacks flavor. Instead of the marinara sauce poured over it, I would much prefer a more standard sausage with sauteed onions and peppers. Want something small? The Sabrett hot dog ($1.25) with some kraut and mustard is perfect.

AND COLD: Wheat, rye, sourdough and hoagie bread is available to mix and match with the selection of cold cuts. Take slices of prosciutto, capicola and pepperoni ($5.25) on wheat, or hard and Genoa salami and spicy soppressata on rye. Pile on as many extras as you'd like including pepperoncini, black olives, avocado ($1 extra) and sundried tomatoes. Add a Hebrew National pickle spear, and you've got a sandwich.

SLURP: Ice boldly states to customers, "If you can find a better clam chowder in town, I want to talk to them." I've heard such claims made by proud proprietors before, but I am stumped after tasting his chowder. It truly is some of the best stuff around. The rich, creamy chowder ($1.95) is packed with meaty bits of clam and has an understated seafood flavor. It far exceeds the disappointment I faced in the pancetta, potato and tomato soup. That promising concoction more closely resembled a baked potato soup. It didn't deliver nearly enough bacon taste from the pancetta, and the tomatoes were nearly non-existent.

AND BURP: The refrigerator case is a rainbow of fruit, tea and carbonated beverage choices. With over 100 non-alcoholic drinks, it's difficult to choose between the Stewart's cream soda, a lemonade from Nantucket Nectar, a Tazo mango tea or a Sunrise smoothie from Arden's Garden (which is also located next door). The selection is large for such a nook, but it's a great chance to wash it all down.

jerry.portwood@creativeloafing.com

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