Price Point: $13 for Meatball Hoagie Sandwich at River Roast

No one wants to hear "dainty" or "balanced" uttered in the presence of a meatball sub, right? This sandwich should inspire a mix of genuine awe and real trepidation. At first glance, the meatball hoagie sandwich at River Roast (315 N LaSalle St., 312-822-0100; does just that. The roll barely contains the enormous meatballs, while a blanket of melted provolone is easily spotted.

But River Roast pulls a bait and switch, because while the sandwich definitely looks the part of a hulking action hero, it's actually a suave, sensitive leading man at heart.

Take the meatballs. These are some of the softest, most elegant meatballs around—ones you wouldn't mind eating by themselves with a fork. And instead of being housed in chewy, crusty bread, they're in a light, airy roll, allowing you to appreciate the complexity of the meatballs.

The cheese and sauce barely register, and you don't really miss them. What you do notice is the giardiniera, a fiery pickled vegetable mixture made in house. Giardiniera should come standard on meatball subs. Take note, sandwich shops.