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Best Bites: Junior's Italian

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85 South Park Drive, Colchester 655-5555

Okay, we all know Junior's, but I know something you don't know. Sure, you can go there for the best piccata around, but that can get pricey. What if you want great New York-style Italian and savings?

The pizzeria menu offers most of the same dishes as the Fine Dining side at a lower price — the veal marsala is $16.70, as opposed to $20.95 on the other side. Besides that, though, there are a few extra surprises. One word: Sliders.

I recently tried six different sandwiches, a garden salad big enough for two and a huge plate of handcut fries — for $25. I was afraid there might not be enough food for me and my boyfriend, but no last minute pizza slices were necessary once we saw that each "mini" sandwich was larger than a McDonald's burger.

First came the tangy Soppressata (a cured meat similar to salami), topped with fresh tomatoes, lettuce and onions and the Italian Special, a marriage of multiple meats including capicola, salami, pepperoni and ham, all bathed in a light layer of Italian dressing. The accompanying fries were shoestring-cut, lightly battered and ultra-crispy.

The hot sandwiches followed – sweet and smoky BBQ Chicken, spicy and vinegar-kissed Buffalo Chicken and Chicken Parm, all utilizing a base of Junior's trademark, kickass, pan-fried chicken breast. Last but not least was the baby Meatball sub – at just $2, a parmesan-filled meal in itself. All in all, an exciting New York pizzeria childhood memory I never made – until now.

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