020616sonnys1The Greenwich Village, a Sonny’s sub filled with Italian ingredients. Below, Kenny Gambella. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


020616sonnys4Just days after opening its doors without fanfare, Sonny’s Sandwich Shop on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright was bustling last Friday.

Owners Kenny and Kelly Gambella bring a little of their Staten Island culinary roots to the Jersey shore, naming their new “baby” after their year-old son, Santino, known as Sonny.

020616sonnys7 Sonny’s took over the space last used by Beach Burgers and Grille. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Located in the storefront most recently occupied by now-defunct Beach Burgers and Grille, the Italian-style deli is the next chapter for the Gambellas.

“Kenny had a catering company, and when we saw this spot available, we decided to roll it into a sandwich shop,” Kelly tells PieHole.

Name aside, Sonny’s isn’t just sandwiches. Trays of fresh fried eggplant and salads, all prepared in the kitchen, fill the deli case. Baskets of bagels fill in one area of the deli that features a menu board listing breakfast options, which are available all day.

From the sandwich menu, which features choices named for Gambella family members and New York City neighborhoods, we ordered the Greenwich Village. At $8.95, it was much bigger than expected: a sub-sized semolina roll layered with fried eggplant, prosciutto, creamy fresh mozzarella and meaty sundried tomatoes. Big, flavorful basil leaves filled in for lettuce. A touch of Balsamic vinegar finished the masterpiece.

Split between two people, it made for a full-flavored, satisfying lunch.

The playful, Italian-American themed sandwich names might seem a little “cheesy,” but the the options such as a Dom the Bomb ( chicken cutlet sub) and the Little Italy (battered chicken with francese or marsala sauce) are well thought out.

Breakfast choices include the Big Dom (a potato-and-egg hero with warm Virginia ham on a 14-inch semolina roll) and a Sonny’s Breakfast (a three-eggs-and-cheese omelet served with hash browns and a bagel).

Also available: burgers, salads and hot dog, which are bound to appeal to the beach crowds once the weather warms up.

Chicken wings with a variety of tempting sauces and french fries prepared disco-style or Santana-style (with prosciutto, truffle oil and fresh mozzarella) round out the menu.

Sonny’s is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and offers curbside delivery.