Matt Feinstone was born and raised in Atlantic City. You can move the boy to Ventnor, but you can’t take Atlantic City out of the boy. That goes double for someone who grew up in the Atlantic City restaurant business — you can never get it out of your system.
“Everybody that lived in this area was kind of born and raised working in a restaurant or a sub shop,” Feinstone says.
Feinstone spent seven years at a place called Super Sub Shop, where he worked from age 14 through college.
Partner Dane Dooley grew up in Ducktown and, with his former neighbor and classmate, Feinstone built the new shop originally for someone else. Unhappy with the product their tenant was offering, they eventually decided to take over the sub shop themselves.
“I have a history in sub shops and Dane has 20 years with White House and various others, and owned a Dooley’s sub shop for 15 years,” Feinstone says.
As a matter of fact, the first Dooley’s Sub Shop opened in 1986, the same year the Press of Atlantic City started its “best of” feature — Dooley’s won top honors for best cheesesteak.
Now, Dooley is running the place and Feinstone is behind the scenes. But Dooley’s Sub Shop is the kind of business that both men worked at in their youth.
Cleaned up and upgraded with a brand new awning outside and a new menu, the partners are reintroducing Dooley’s Sub Shop to the area where it was extremely successful in the past.
The man who taught Feinstone to cook was Atlantic City legend Vince Sabatini, who along with his wife Clare, fought to save their family restaurant from eminent domain and the conquering Trump empire.
Feinstone learned a lot about cooking and something about tenacity.
When it comes to sub shops, Feinstone is clear about who the benchmark is in Atlantic City, without even mentioning their name. Feinstone believes, with the quality of the ingredients they use, and their attention to detail, they are parallel to any of the sub shops in Atlantic City today.
“I’m sure everybody claims the same thing,” Feinstone says.
Dooley and Feinstone let the subs speak for themselves.
At Dooley’s, Formica’s bakery delivers fresh bread three times every day and all lunch meats are sliced fresh daily.
Their highly marbleized bottom rounds of beef and turkey breasts are roasted, in-house, for all sandwiches. The Italian sub comes in two versions, the regular and the special. Both use the same quality cold cuts — capicola, salami, codeghino and provolone, the lunch meats of choice on their Italian subs.
“The special Italian uses extra meat and cheese,” says Dooley.
The also offer a sub made with capicola, salami, and provolone for those not so fond of codeghino, although Dooley describes the codeghino as the most flavorful part of their sandwich.
“Without the codeghino on it, it just doesn’t taste like a real Italian sub,” says Dooley.
Meatball subs ($7/ half and $14/ whole) are also homemade featuring beef, pork, and veal mix, roasted and cooked in homemade sauce.
“We try to buy everything local as needed, rather than stock piling ingredients,” Feinstone says.
For those who don’t yet know what a pepper and egg sub is, Dooley’s uses their own roasted red peppers and three eggs scrambled or cooked omelet-style and cheese if you like, along with lettuce, tomato and onion. There is also a version that includes fresh mushrooms.
All subs are made with sharp provolone cheese unless American cheese is requested, and can be made on white, wheat, or rye breads or as a wrap.
Rotating soup choices, all homemade, include New England clam chowder, chicken noodle soup, minestrone and a vegan vegetable.
Party trays are offered at a discounted rate and are not made in advance, but within an hour of them going out of the store.
“We get them to you on time, nicely presented, and everybody seems to love them,” Feinstone says.
Feinstone is also excited about the expanded parking coming this spring although they are only one block from the bike path if you want to peddle over for lunch.
Some of the best subs in the area
Tuna subs ($7/half and $14/whole) come whipped or dry. Both use Tonga tuna, a dense, less fishy product and the whipped uses a heavy soy based version of mayonnaise.
Eye rounds are used for steak sandwiches ($6.75/half and $13.50/whole) because they are more tender and less fatty than other cuts and sliced paper-thin on premise every day. Each half steak sub uses more than 6 ounces of beef seared on the grill at high temperature for added flavor.
Chicken steak subs ($7/half and $14/whole) are made from fresh chicken breasts that have been butterflied then grilled.
Dooley’s grilled vegetable sub ($6.25/half and $12.50/whole) has all fresh ingredients such as spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, fresh roasted peppers, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato and fried onion if you want it.