An Italian Combo Sandwich in the Mountain States? I had to give it a try.
The West is more known for where the deer and the antelope play. It’s the home of rolling hills, open skies, and desert plains. Traveling out to the west, you’ll find a BBQ joint on every corner, or a Qdoba (the western equivalent of Chipotle) before you find anything truly “Italian.”
On a recent trip out to Cheyenne, Wyoming for the Wyoming Film Festival, I found very little in the way of Italian eateries. Of course, I wasn’t exactly looking for an Italian restaurant because I wasn’t expecting to find one. Local fast-food joints like Jimmy Johns had their own version of the Italian Combo sandwich. That was to be expected. Any fast-food sandwich shop is bound to have a “Godfather” or Italian Combo sandwich of some sort.
But to find a restaurant with its own version of the Italian Combo sandwich? In the middle of Wyoming? Unheard of. While we have investigated the best Godfather sandwiches in America, here’s what Wyoming had to offer.
On the Sunday of the film festival, after the 48-hour film festival, a block of movies dedicated to filmmakers who took on the challenge of making a movie in 48 hours, we decided to head into the downtown Cheyenne area to explore. Being born and raised in New York City, the open city planning of Cheyenne astounded me.
Directly across and down the way from the state capitol building was the Cheyenne Train Depot. This train depot is in the original Union Pacific depot that was built in 1880. Besides the train depot museum that is housed in the main part of the depot, several feet to the left of the museum is the Accomplice Beer Company. This small brewery is home to the region’s most unique flavored beers as well as the best wings and ribs in the state.
I took a quick scan of the menu, not sure what I’d eat in this brewery. It felt too early for beer, and I was definitely burnt out on burgers and wings. I flipped over the menu and found their “san-wich” section. That’s when I found this:
An Italian Combo sandwich? In the middle of the mountain states? I was stunned. I made my decision right then and there. Wyoming trying their hand at an Italian sandwich? Let’s see what they could do.
On a weekend filled with responses like, “we’re currently sold out of that,” I was half expecting the sandwich to be unavailable to me. But, with a quick head nod, the waitress left with our order and headed off to make the sandwich.
For any train enthusiast, the restaurant borders Union Pacific tracks and you’re bound to see a Union Pacific freight train (or two) come rolling to a stop while you eat.
A WYOMING GODFATHER
After about 20 minutes of waiting, my sandwich came out, hot and ready to devour. There was an option to order the sandwich with a kale sandwich or kettle chips. I’m not a fan of kale, so I went with the kettle chips.
I took one look at the plate before me. This sandwich was stuffed with Italian sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto ham, toasted San Marzano tomatoes, and mozzarella. The sandwich also had romaine, and pickled onions, sprinkled with oil and vinegar. Sadly enough, it didn’t come on semolina bread, focaccia toast, or any traditional Italian bread. Remember, this is the west. There was nothing “Italian” in the area. These sliders came on two toasted harvest moon buns. Not what I was expecting, but okay, works for me. A sandwich is a sandwich, and I was not about to turn down what looked like a delicious sandwich.
If you want an idea of what it looked like at first? It was like looking at two burgers, but instead of a beef patty, there were Italian ingredients. So, I grabbed the first sandwich and took a hearty bite.
Immediately my teeth sank into the bread with a crunch. I was not expecting the bread to be this good! All right Wyoming, I see what you can do now.
Then came the meats and cheeses. Each was cooked to perfection. There was no loss of flavor here. While the state might not be densely populated, they sure know how to cook their food! The Italian Sausage had a hit of spice to it while being juicy and fresh. The pepperoni added extra spice and flavor to the whole sandwich. The romaine lettuce cooled off the sandwich, adding a fresh twist to the whole thing. The cheese melted and pulled with each bite. It was a divine experience from beginning to end.
HOME ON THE RANGE
The “Magic City of the Plains” took me by surprise. While not densely populated and with no Italian culture scene, I was not expecting the experience I had exploring Cheyenne. Extra friendly people, high-quality food, and beautiful weather rounded out a perfect weekend experience for me.
With no Italian culture scene in sight, I wasn’t expecting much. But, that got me thinking: does Wyoming have Italian immigrants? A little digging gave me the answer. Yes, but not by much. The town of Frontier, Wyoming claimed to have a 68.75% of an Italian population, giving it a national ranking of 5. The caveat is that the town only has a population of 21 people. Coming in second was Walcott, Wyoming, a town of 44 having a population of 51.35%. From there, the statistics heavily drop. All other towns in the state hover between 1-15%.
Albeit a small population, it was stunning to find a small population of Italians had immigrated to the west, staking a claim in more than just the coastal cities.
For more Italian Combos from around the country, check out our story "A Guide to Every Italian Combo aka 'Godfather Sandwich' We Could Find in America".
Assistant Editor for America Domani, AJ Forrisi is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer. His work focuses on food, travel, sports, landscapes, and urban scenes. You can find him on Instagram @aj.photo.works.