Take just one step into Dino's Subs, and you'll know that Dino is serious about sandwiches. The sweet smell of onions, peppers and an assortment of fresh ingredients permeates the interior. It's an aromatic tease that'll soon be quelled.
At Dino's, choose not just from 10 or 15 sandwiches, but 27 in all. (Every sub is assigned a number, and that's how you order.)
Because it's almost impossible to eat 27 subs without the aid of paramedics, we went for several of the specialty sandwiches. Most have more than two cuts of meat, along with a variety of toppings.
All of the subs have a distinct flavor, characterized by fresh ingredients and a tangy blend of oils and spices. And they beat the stuffing out of the big chain sandwiches.
The Dino ($3.70 half, $6.65 single, $8.95 double) is the owner's signature sub of baked ham, peppered beef, salami, and provolone cheese with a spread of garlic, peppers, and oil and vinegar known as the "Dino dressing." It's meaty, fresh, and as one of the most popular subs at Dino's, rarely makes it out the door as leftovers.
The Black Jack ($3.75, $6.55), a hot sandwich layered with baked ham and peppered beef and provolone has a hidden layer of cream cheese, making it one of the cheesiest.
The Big "D" ($4.05, $7.30, $9.75), aptly titled, is a brick of baked ham, Italian ham, bologna, peppered beef, pepperoni and salami. It's the meatiest sandwich by far.
The Italian combo ($3.70, $6.50, $8.85) has a distinct sweetness thanks to a topping of red peppers, while the Great Expectation's ($3.40, $6.05, $8) simple combo of ham, salami, and cheese makes it a lighter, but still delicious option.
The list goes on: avocado and Muenster; sub club; pepperoni and cheese; salami and cheese; tuna; and there's even a peanut butter, banana, and honey sub. It seems Dino mapped out every combination possible from his meat and cheese inventory.
All sandwiches include sesame bread and "the works" option, a combination of cheese, lettuce, and onions in a blend of salad oil and wine vinegar. It's a zesty blend, and it's free.
Not into subs? Dino's antipasto salad ($6.40) is another favorite. It's a pile of capicolla, prosciuttini, salami, mushrooms, olives, provolone, and red and green bell peppers marinated in a blend of oils and spices.
Dino's is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. In its early days, the business was well on its way to becoming a locally respected franchise, but after directing his attention to other ventures, Dino decided to keep only a single location in Arlington.
When I talked to Dino, he expressed interest in expanding his business again but didn't give any details. So until then, just head to Arlington, and surrender to the aromatic seduction.