Riding the B Line: The Hidden Genius of Joey

Illustration: Steve Motzenbecker

Somewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we don’t know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we'll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.

The Broadway-Lafayette stop drops you in familiar downtown territory. Is there any more mystery left in Soho? Walk one block up, and one block over, and you find yourself on tiny, obscure Crosby Street, in front of a large man holding a large sandwich. The man is Joey Cram. The sandwich is the Crosby Special. The place is Crosby Connection.

Despite working out of a space the size of a broom closet, Joey knows how to make a good sandwich. With his hardworking assistant Johnny (of course), Joey makes some of the city’s best heros, like his signature item, a beef, pork, and veal meatball sandwich enhanced with fresh ricotta, fresh mozzarella, “a touch of basil,” and some tomato sauce. In the warm months, Joey also does “your feminine meats,” like turkey and chicken, as well as specialty sandwiches like the Fat Boy, which is “turkey, hot peppers, sweet peppers, and provolone. It’s favored by construction workers and skinny models alike.” We can’t get past the Crosby Special, but we'll take his old New York word for it.

Joey: a big man with a big sandwich, in a very small space.Photo: Melissa Hom