PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Maine is the birthplace of the Italian sandwich. They were first made by John Amato at his shop down on India Street. For the past 45 years, they have been made by Dominic Reali who has also expanded the chain to 42 stores.
Mr. Reali is a real Italian himself, having immigrated to the United States in 1955. Speaking no English, he went to work and realized the American Dream.
Particularly meaningful to him is how his product has become a part of living in Maine.
Generations have grown up with his sandwiches. Similar fare is called hoagies or subs in other markets. Here, people eat Italian sandwiches.
The name comes from the early 20th century when Portland had a large group of Italians doing stonework. They first bought Mr. Amato's bread and encouraged him to make sandwiches for them to carry to work.
Other folks around town called them "Italian sandwiches" because that's what the Italians made and ate. The name stuck. Very few Mainers don't love the Amato's Italian.
"People will tell me their kid will come home and the first place they want to go is Amato's," Reali told NEWS CENTER. "I've heard that story a thousand times and I love it!"