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Saturday, March 24 News

Sandwich shop offers new twists on old standards

Studying economics is all well and good, but nothing beats making a nice sandwich.

That's why Eugene Chun made the switch from financing to food and is following his first love: cooking.

Apparently, New Canaan is happy he did, for his new deli-restaurant, Connecticut Sandwich Company, is proving to be a popular stop.

"I always kind of had an interest in food," Chun, who attended the French Culinary Institute in New York before launching his career in cuisine, said.

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His new place opened at 78 Pine St., the former site of Tony's Deli, on Nov. 20 and response has been strong.

"My sister is always raving about this place," said Timber Pech, of Darien, who recently made her first visit to the shop.

On her sister's advice, she was getting both a breakfast wrap and a lunch sandwich -- the two main offerings at the deli, which strives to make its options unique.

"We took what Tony's Deli had before and we just totally knocked everything down and redid it just to make it more convenient for the customer," including making the front area much larger, Chun said. "It's a little nicer appeal, that we thought would fit the town pretty well," he said.

Included in the appeal is making an effort to bring interesting variety to old standards, along with sticking to fresh, healthy and homemade fixings. Toward that end, most of the meats are cooked onsite, including the nitrate-free turkey, pork roast and roast beef.

Fresh soups are also made every day.

"Sometimes we don't even know what we're going to make until that morning," Chun said. In the mere two months the deli has been open, he said about 40 different kinds already have been created.

"I thought it was really fresh and tasted great," Jaime Sneddon, of New Canaan, who came back a second time, said. "It's different than anything else we have in town."

Chun said part of his cooking philosophy involves bringing all elements of taste and texture into one sandwich -- sweet, savory, crunchy. "I would say every single sandwich that we have is something that people are familiar with, but it just has a more composed feeling to it, so it just feels like a meal."

Proving to be a local favorite is the "Sweet and Spicy," a roasted chicken sandwich that includes cheddar cheese, bacon and blackberry jam, he said. "It's a little bit crazy, but it kind of makes sense and it kind of works," Chun said. "Every sandwich has that feel to it."

He said he wanted to take what he learned and put his own twist "and have my kind of sandwiches."

Counterman Scott Valencano said everything is "fresh and made to order in house. Everything has been going great. It's been pretty busy and it's a diverse crowd. Everybody's been nothing but nice."

Chun said he intends to eventually expand to having some pre-packaged foods available for quick pickup, along with delivery and catering.

At this point, however, the operation is still moving too quickly to take the next steps.

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"Right now, we're just trying to get our menu down as fast as possible to ensure the quality for first-time customers," he said.

"I always kind of wanted to open a sandwich shop," Chun said. After various sojourns around the country, he was also looking forward to returning home.

"I thought I could bring a different flare, a different genre of food to the lunch scene around Connecticut," he said. "I think it's working out well."

The Connecticut Sandwich Company is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from

8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. For more information, visit ctsandwich.com or call 203-972-9166.

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.