Marie’s Sandwich Shop: New plates and tastes, same family feel

Marie’s Sandwich Shop, a familiar breakfast and lunch stop since 1962, isn’t going anywhere.

That’s the message owner Amir Alezaim is trying to get Trumbull residents to hear. In fact, the White Plains Road business is extending its hour and staying open later, until 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, to try and serve the community even more.

“People think we’re closing because the previous owner was only here for a year and a half,” said Alezaim, who took over the diner in June.

“We’re not closed,” he added. “We’re here to serve this community and deliver it the same quality service and food it has come to know for years.”

Building onto an established institution like Marie’s can be a challenge, but Alezaim, who cooks all the homemade dishes from scratch, realizes there’s no reason to push for that much change.

“I didn’t change the name because I know there’s a tradition to be maintained here,” he said.

“I know when people come in here they recall what it was like going here when they were students at Trumbull High School,” he added. “And that’s the benefit of having a business that’s been here for 60-plus years.”

A Brooklyn native, Alezaim has lived in Trumbull with his family for 10 years. His son is a Trumbull High School graduate and his daughter still attends THS.

He discovered Marie’s doing vegetable deliveries for the business through his own food company that was based in Norwalk. When he found out the business was closing for the second time in three years, he decided to take action.

“I knew nobody wanted this place to close, and that’s why I got involved,” he said.

 Mediterranean menu

Of course, like any chef, he’s implemented his own items on the menu, which give Marie’s a cultural flair that it never had before as a primarily weekend breakfast stop and sandwich pickup place during the weekdays.

Alezaim, who grew up watching his Syrian-born father cook in the kitchen of many New York City restaurants, decided that a menu rooted in vegetarian and Mediterranean courses would give Marie’s the necessary change without going against traditional diner fare.

Falafels, shawarmas, keftas, and gyros, which can be eaten as wraps or as salads, now find themselves next to the omelets, sandwiches and salads that have always been on Marie’s menu.

“These are recipes I learned for life,” the chef said of growing up watching his father and mother cook Arabic and Mediterranean dishes from scratch.

“The falafel, the gyro — these are specialties of mine that I want everyone to enjoy,” he added.

Before moving to Connecticut, the new business owner worked in an East Village restaurant called Damascus Falafel, where he continued to fine-tune the skills he first learned as a child.

Some of the new items include a gyro on pita (chicken or beef), Philly cheesesteak, kabaddi balls (deep-fried ground beef), and the falafel wrap or salad.

The fattoush and tabouli salads are also new additions.

“The meat, the chicken, the soup — it’s all homemade,” Alezaim said. “The falafel and the shawarma are becoming very popular. …

“People have even come in for a homemade Syrian breakfast that’s vegetarian and has things like beans, tomatoes, parsley, garlic, and olives.”

Tradition building

People still come in for traditional American omelets and breakfast sandwiches in the morning, but Alezaim is beginning to see a bigger turnout for lunch, and now for dinner, thanks to his new menu.

“Trumbull doesn’t have a lot of restaurants with this menu,” he said. “We can do a lot of things — catered trays for meetings, sandwich pickups during lunch.”

They don’t have a delivery service yet, but Marie’s will drop off food for big catered orders.

“People are coming back for the same reasons they always have — they love the food and they love the service,” Alezaim said.

Located at 920 White Plains Road, Marie’s Sandwich Shop is open at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, closing at  3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and closing at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. On Sundays the business is open from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. For more information, call 203-261-8711 or visit