A submarine sandwich or sub is any of various North American sandwiches made on a long roll (usually up to 12" long by 3 " wide) or baguette (called "French bread" or a "submarine roll" in the U.S.), so called because of its shape. The contents typically include meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and various condiments, sauces or dressings.
The term is believed by some to have originated in a restaurant in Scollay Square in Boston, Massachusetts at the beginning of World War II . The sandwich was created to entice the large numbers of navy servicemen stationed at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The bread was a smaller specially baked baguette intended to resemble the hull of the submarines it was named after.
Another legend suggests the submarine sandwich was brought to the US by Dominic Conti (1874-1954), an Italian immigrant who came to New York in the early 1900s. In 1910 Mr. Conti started Dominic Conti's Grocery Store in Paterson, NJ. His granddaughter has stated the following: "My grandfather came to this country circa 1895 from Montella, Italy. Around 1910, he started his grocery store, called Dominic Conti's Grocery Store, on Mill Street in Paterson, New Jersey where he was selling the traditional Italian sandwiches. His sandwiches were made from a recipe he brought with him from Italy which consisted of a long crust roll, filled with cold cuts, topped with lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, onions, oil, vinegar, Italian herbs and spices, salt, and pepper. The sandwich started with a layer of cheese and ended with a layer of cheese (this was so the bread wouldn’t get soggy).
In the United States, the terms "submarine" and "sub" are widespread, but there are also many regional names for the sandwich, especially in the northeast part of the country:
An Italian sub, Italian combo, or Italian hoagie consists of Italian luncheon meats, typically capicola, prosciutto, and Genoa salami, with provolone, lettuce, tomato, oil, and vinegar. Thinly sliced pepperoni and bologna are sometimes added, and less expensive ham is often substituted for capicola and prosciutto. In some parts of the country, an "Italian Sub" is referred to as an "Assorted Sub" such as in Western New York State.
A cheesesteak or steak and cheese is grilled sliced steak with melted cheese on a submarine roll. Common local variations include grilled onions, peppers, lettuce, tomato, ketchup or tomato sauce. The cheese is usually processed American cheese, cheddar, provolone, or Cheez Whiz. Cheesesteaks are strongly associated with the Philadelphia area, while "steak and cheese" is more often heard elsewhere.