"It was very difficult to bake the bread so we actually flew down to Miami, met with a baker and we have a baker that sends us the dough, and we bake the bread here every morning," said co-owner David Fernandez. "It's a little difficult but it's definitely worth it."
The key is a 14-hour proofing time at 78 degrees, after which it's baked off, then used up pretty quickly. The long loaves are sliced in half, brushed with some melted butter, then proceed to get topped with slices of ham and shredded pork that's roasted in-house.
"We have pork roasting all day long. It marinates for over 24 hours, cooking all day long," he said.
EXTRA COURSE: Pasteles and pastelitos at Cubano Bros. in Elk Grove Village
There's Swiss cheese, tart pickles, a squeeze of mustard and then the sandwich is topped and brought to the giant press, where the outside is almost completely brushed with butter. It gets pressed for a couple of minutes, until the bread is flat and crisp. Sliced on the diagonal, it's perfect; just like you'd see in Miami. The key is no one ingredient dominates.
"You want to get a little bit of everything in each bite. Bigger is not always better, they're pretty large sandwiches; it's getting that right taste that makes it a Cuban sandwich," said Fernandez.
They do have other sandwiches, like the smaller medianoche.
"The only difference with the medianoche is it's made on a sweeter bread. It's the only different bread we have here. It's kind of like a brioche type of bread," he said.
Cuban coffee is bracing, an excellent companion to a sandwich, but if you don't feel like the bread, try a bowl, loaded with Fernandez's grandma's recipe for ropa vieja.
"The ropa vieja is the braised flank steak, it's made in a tomato-y, red sweet peppery sauce. And the bowls are big for that too. We have the white rice with our traditional Cuban black beans over the top with a ropa vieja on the side and some sweet plantains...it really fills you up," said Fernandez.
Like any great sandwich joint, it is all about the bread. And the fact Cubano Bros. goes to the trouble to have that dough shipped up from Miami, it makes all the difference in the world.
571 Landmeier Rd., Elk Grove Village