For those unfamiliar with a hoagie, it is a sandwich served on a long Italian roll and topped with cold cuts, vegetables, and cheese. "Hoagie" is a regional term -- I pretty much only hear people from southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey use that name; elsewhere names like submarine sandwich, grinder, or hero can be used, though oftentimes these names have additional nuanced meanings. In Philadelphia, the hoagie reigns supreme, and at the top of that pile is the Italian hoagie.
An Italian hoagie is dressed with oil, sometimes oil and vinegar or a special house Italian dressing (but never, EVER, mayonnaise), loaded with Italian-style deli meats -- capicola, some sort of ham (I like pepper ham), and Genoa salami are nearly givens, while pepperoni, and occasionally mortadella and prosciutto are used -- and then topped with Provolone cheese, lettuce (romaine or Boston is the best, though iceberg is still used way too often), tomato, onion, and quite often pickled peppers (usually sweet, though you can get hot -- I always go sweet peppers). Sometimes you get a shake of oregano or "spices" to top it off. The bread is very important -- an Italian long roll (sometimes seeded) either makes or breaks the sandwich. The result looks something like this:
|An Italian hoagie from Dalessandro's (from Roadfood.com)|
I actually have not had Italian hoagies from very many different places, and I know I've missed some standouts in Philadelphia, but my top Italian hoagie list currently looks something like this:
- John's Village Market, Wayne: The meats they use on the hoagie are spicy like no other Italian hoagie I've had, and they are very generously sized.
- Salumeria, Reading Terminal Market: I only recently had their Italian hoagie, and it was fantastic. They eschew the traditional pickled peppers for roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts, if you want them. At the suggestion of a friend, I also had their prosciutto hoagie with the house dressing and artichoke hearts, and that may even be better!
- Paesano's, Philadelphia: Their Daddy Wad is a fancier Italian hoagie (mortadella, sopressata, and prosciutto, among others) topped with arugula instead of lettuce. A great sandwich from Philly's best sandwich shop.
- A Cut Above Deli, Newtown Square: I mentioned this deli in a previous post about Ridley Creek, and they did not disappoint. The hoagie is served on a seeded roll.