I usually write about all things Chicago, but when my grandfather, a very influential foodie role model for me, recently passed away, I found myself back in my hometown of Detroit. As you can imagine, such rough circumstances call for massive carbohydrate comfort, and so I spent plenty of time chowing down on local favorites and childhood touchstone eats: Lafayette Coneys, Olga’s Snackers, Buddy’s Pizza, and Better Made BBQ chips. The thing is, I can find a decent chili dog, barbecue chips, and great pizza in Chicago. I, however, have never found the 3-D Special Sandwich in the Windy City.
My father bought one for me years ago and I remember being blown away by it, but I’d forgotten about the whole thing until, on my way home after the funeral, I accidentally drove by the liquor store that makes them. If that sounds weird, it most certainly is. Detroit is not West Louisiana—there is no boudin competition amongst the corner gas stations. The best you can hope for at most of our party stores and liquor shops is a desiccated piece or two of roasted chicken or greasy, limp pizza.
However, at Tony’s 3-D Party Store, the dusty bottles of wine are the afterthought. The thing here is the 3-D Special Sandwich, a massive, airy plank of Sicilian bakery-style focaccia split in half, stuffed with fresh-cut salami, ham, mozzarella, pickles, banana peppers, mayo, and mustard, and baked in a pizza oven in the back. The balance of sweet, buttery bread, tangy pickles, oozy cheese, and salty meats is a kind of Motor City Muffuletta. It certainly was as incredible as I remembered, and easily ranks as one of the better sammies I’ve had anywhere.
While I was waiting for my sandwich, I started talking to a dude who lived around the corner from the shop. When he found out I was from Chicago, he opined, like most who’ve visited the Windy City, about our hot dogs and skyscrapers and he waxed poetic about the monster slices of deep dish pizza he once had at Geno’s. But as he walked out the door, he hoisted his own 3-D Special and said, “As good as that stuffed pizza is, I wouldn’t trade it for one of these.” I couldn’t agree more.
Tony’s 3-D Party Store
19371 E 10 Mile Road, Roseville, MI 48066 (map)