The 1600 block of Western Ave., south of Crossgates Mall, provides some of the best sandwiches in the Albany area, Jewish or Italian, Jewish on the north side, Italian on the south. Italian is Via Fresca, in the basement level of a modest building at 1666, where the friendly folks there make terrific panini to order, as well as subs, salads and an interesting range of Italian dishes to take out or eat in. It's the sort of place where I'd like to work through the menu, but I usually get stuck on either a roast beef panini (w/ cheddar and russian) or a provolone/broccoli rabe panini. Everything looks homemade and delicious. There's usually good conversation at the few tables, and Italian cookies and other pasticceria to go along with an espresso if you want to linger.
On the other side of the street, and on a different end of the culinary spectrum is Nosh, at 1645, a Jewish delicatessen featuring products from Old World Provisions, which is the pastrami purveyor for places like Katz's, downstate. Typical Jewish deli sandwiches, pastrami, corned beef, tongue, chopped liver, matzo ball soup, other Jewish specialties. Sandwiches come in a more-than-ample 8-oz portion, or a "fressen" size, with an extra quarter-pound. Pastrami is hand-sliced.
Two good choices make this a very good block for lunch.
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