If you grew up on Long Island, it's likely that your mouth became conditioned, over time, to stretch around ginormous deli sandwiches. (Which can also make sandwiches elsewhere seem skimpy and sad). With the bar for size set so high here, it's a wonder that one Middle Island deli is still pushing the boundary of how much you can jam between slices of bread — or, in the case of Mac's Countryside Deli, into a foot-long hero that never clocks in at less than 12 inches, said co-owner John Macaluso. "I measure every day," he jokes.
The year before last, Macaluso — who moved to Long Island from Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood 18 years ago, but still carries the accent — noticed the corner deli on Half Mile Road had closed. Even though Macaluso already holds another job, in the kitchen of Newfield High School in Middle Island, he and his brother Anthony Macaluso reopened that deli as Mac's in October 2017. Ever since, pictures of and paeans to their overstuffed heros have steadily swept across Facebook and Instagram, some with the hashtag #twohandsneeded.
That's not an understatement: The heros at Mac's, whether filled with Boars' Head meats or house-roasted roast beef, are almost like weapons, heavy cylinders that can feed you across two or more meals. "Not many people can finish them," said John Macaluso, who is positioned at Mac's counter with an order pad most afternoons. Above and behind his head are chalkboards listing dozens of combinations, from the Tommy Pastrami (pastrami, sauerkraut and Russian dressing) to the Lola (chicken cutlet, ham, bacon, Cheddar, onion rings and barbecue sauce). The most popular, said Macaluso, is the simply named Italian, loaded with cured meat (including "capicooool," as Macaluso calls capicola) plus provolone, herbs, and oil and vinegar. (Mac's also does a brisk catering and delivery business).
Prices, for the most part, top out at $8.49. But despite these heros bulk, you'll probably need GPS to find them — Mac's is tucked away in a residential neighborhood, with one uneven picnic table outside (more are being added this spring). You can take in the view of Pine Lake across the street as roast beef juices run across your chin and hands.
Mac's Countryside Deli & Catering, 61 Half Mile Rd., Middle Island. 631-448-8955. macscountrysidedeli.com