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Nov 26, 2002 12:04 PM

Seeking the greatest PA sub/sandwich shops!!

  • k

I read in an article that PA is famous for many little towns having great quality/value sub/sandwich shops, sometimes 2 or 3 to a small town. Can some hounds recommend some of these gems off of I-81, or U.S. 15 below Harrisburg? (actually, anywhere in PA, if you can rave about a favorite or 2... )
Thanks for all info.!!

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  1. If you can do a little research, the Inquirer Magazine did a feature story about great steak sandwich shops just a couple of months ago. Most places listed as raves also got kudos for other sandwiches as well. I thought I saved that darned article....good luck!

    1. Y'know, there are so many of them in Luzerne county that I couldn't name them. What usually happens is someone from work gets an order, and I don't even know where it's from, unless I ask. I'd say, in the Hazleton area, Alba's is great, Cuzzin' Joe's is great, Fiore's is great, Georgio's is great, Checkers' is great, Senape's (pizza!) is great, etc., etc, etc. There are so many great ones that the mediocre ones die. You have to be great to be average in Hazleton.


      28 Replies
      1. re: Mosca

        Ya know, Mosca?

        Aren't all of us glad that the mediocre ones die?

        I love it that this place has a great white pie and this one is super with sausage and peppers.

        We're Chowhounds - we'll buy what you serve that's really good.

        You go, gang!

        1. re: Mosca

          Thanks for info., that's very witty "You have to be great to be average in Hazleton"..are any of the ones you mention near the I-81 exit for Hazleton?...

          1. re: Kaoli

            Just about every little sandwich shop is a neighborhood place, serving homes and businesses in a few block radius. And even some good ones come and go like mushrooms after a spring rain; I'm thinking Paolini's, which unfortunately closed. It was really good, but the neighborhood was bad and it was hard to get in and out of, with no parking. It's hard to make it on half a dozen sausage and scamutz sandwiches a day, as my friend Greg said.

            I forgot one of the best, Vesuvio's on Wyoming St. Also, Castiglione's (in the valley), Famosa (in Drums), Mamma Celeste's, Broad St Deli, and Cusat's (Bellhop's) on Alter St. Rostas' (for sandwiches but not pizza).

            Easy to get to from 81; Dicola's on the beltway. I haven't tried it yet, but their other location is good. Take 81 north to the last Hazleton exit, Rt 93. Go south on 93 to the light past Penn State Hazleton campus, and turn left on the beltway. Go past the mall entrance and Walmart, to the Franklin Corporate Center (a strip mall); it's in there. A number of hoagie shops have failed at that location. There's no walk-up traffic, just businesses. But, Dicola's is reasonably well known and might make it there on name recognition.

            Hazleton has a lot of problems, but finding a great place to eat is NOT one of them. This town knows its chow.


            1. re: Mosca

              Thanks again Mosca, now I will have to keep stopping off that exit & trying these places out one by one in Hazleton! A tremendous one I have found is The Sandwich Man, 5640 Allentown Blvd., I-81 (Paxtonia Exit) HUGE menu, great quality, LOW prices..local people crowd the place & must have many companies with their poster size menu they give out on their walls to order en masse at noon..wonder how it compares overall to your places?....

              1. re: Kaoli

                Heh, I guess you'll find out!

                IMHO ,you could stop just about anywhere off of 81, from 80 north to 83, and find a good hoagie at random. At the first Wilkes-Barre exit, cross 309 and go to the end of Carey St. (I can't think of the name of the place). At the second exit, (the FU Arena) CJ's. The 3rd, The Grotto. Further north,you get back into hard core territory; Pittston, Avoca, Moosic, and Old Forge. Then Scranton, and Carbondale. I'm not familiar with hoagie shops north of Wilkes-Barre, but I'm really starting to get the hang of the Old Forge pizza scene (se my post on Augustine's Club 17 from last week). But, knowing the communities up that way, I'm sure that they wouldn't settle for second rate.


                1. re: Mosca

                  Ah, Old Forge pizza! Arcaro and Genelli's (sp?) white pizza. Stuff that dreams are made of!!!!! And an ambience that lets you know you are eating in a neighborhood place where great pizza is a way of life.

                  1. re: Joe H.

                    Old Forge Pizza, THE BEST I'VE EVER HAD!

                  2. re: Mosca

                    Thanks mucho once again for all the leads on sub shops! Have quite a few to hunt down, and now I must try some of the Old Forge pizza places too (have read much about them in old posts) - just a slice or 2 maybe as I am usually just one passing . How would you rate these pizza places/Old Forge style vs. ones I've read about in New Haven, CT., NYC, Chicago, etc.?...

                    1. re: Kaoli


                      I don't know about Old Forge Pizza , but I do know that the pizza in New Haven (Pepe's vs. Sally's - both are good although I personally give the edge to Pepe's) is absolutely delicious. They also make "clam pie" there, which is a uniquely New Haven thing. Very tasty stuff! I once drove all the way to New Haven from Philadelphia just to settle an argument about who has the best pizza! Wish we could get those around here, but I suspect it's like a cheesesteak that just doesn't travel well. I think most regional cuisine is like that - if it was as good everywhere it wouldn't be a local specialty anymore.

                      1. re: Katie

                        DeLorenzo's of Trenton makes an incredible clam pie, better than Pepe's. Really.

                        1. re: Rich Pawlak

                          Wow! I'm overwhelmed by all you folks' recommendations! I guess it will take me quite awhile to sample a bit from many of these places..Old Forge, New Haven, Scranton, Wilkes Barre, Trenton, Pittsburgh....and yet remain under 400 lbs.?...

                          fyi.. on web site, he now has on his home page a box you can click on with the 10 best sandwiches in Pittsburgh..for those of you who know these..

                          1. re: Rich Pawlak


                            REALLY?!? Clam pies closer than a four hour drive - I'm totally stoked! I'll have to try DeLorenzo's next time I'm in the Trenton vicinity, which should be some time in about two to three weeks. I'll let you know if I agree with the Pepe's comparison, although it's been so long since I've had a clam pie at all, I'm certain it'll be delicious either way!

                            Thanks for the tip!

                        2. re: Kaoli

                          Old Forge pizza is a completely different style. The crust is just as likely to be from a shell as it is to be fresh. You might find Monterey Jack for the cheese, rather than mozzarella. The sauce is chunky and sweet rather than smooth and savory. Arcaro & Genell's, and others, make a pizza that is crust on both sides, with mashed potatoes, onions and cheese in the middle, brushed with garlic olive oil and dusted with sage and rosemary. You just have to try it. It can't be compered to NY or Chi, IMO. They're different foods. Broccoli pizza is big in Old Forge; broccoli, onions, cheese and garlic. And, pizzas could come as pies, slices, or trays.

                          I would say that what you find in Old Forge is a combination of simple ingredients made into an exquisite whole, a combination that was overlooked by many others.

                          I'd like to add that the chefs in Old Forge are not rubes or rustics. They know exactly what they are doing. The pizza is the way it is by choice. Try the pasta dishes at Arcaro & Genell's; I have a weak spot for the spaghetti carbonara, but the lighter fare is just as good. Yes, it's mostly traditional, but doggone it's good!


                          1. re: Kaoli

                            I discovered Old Forge pizza because I looked in a Wilkes Barre phone book and saw more ads for pizza places than I'd ever seen in any phone book anywhere on earth. There must have been 10 in Old Forge alone and when I looked it up on a map it was virtually a crossroads. Knowing that the Victory Pig and Pizza Loven were Wilkes Barre traditions and having been to both I talked my wife and several others in driving the 20 miles to Old Forge. Arcaro and Genell's (sp?) just had a "feeling" about it.
                            It's essentially a neighborhood tavern that has the feel of starting in the '40's or '50's. Red sauce Italian, basic chianti and a clipping on the wall from USA Today that calls it "one of the best pizzas in America."
                            There are two different kinds of square pizza slices: red and white. Frankly the red was not very good, the kind of taste that you grow up with and learn to love. Actually not as good as the Victory Pig in Forty Fort near Wilkes Barre, a weekend bar b q/pizza parlor of quite a bit of regional reknown. In truth I was disappointed and, frankly, laughed to myself that I would put this in the category of Grimaldi's or even Sally's or Pepe's or Santarpio's.
                            Then I had a bite of the white.
                            Pepe's has a white pie. Made with clams and no tomato sauce. It is sublime. Perhaps their best pie. But this white was really a seriously good moderately crispy crust just slathered with cheese and some garlic and more cheese. Some olive oil on top also. God, it was good. Just, well, very basic, very simple, but just absolutely addictively good. A 60 year pizza tradition that had realized a basic perfection.
                            To answer your question: Old Forge is not in league with Wooster Street in New Haven or the coal ovens of New York or even Philly's Tocanelli's for traditional pizza. I believe the crust in New Haven at Pepe's is the finest in the world. Truly the realization of pizza making and the oven as a art form. But as Uno's in Chicago is truly distinct, truly unique and absolutely wonderful in its own right, the original Ledo's in Hyattsville, Maryland, and St. Louis' legendary Imo's (which is a another post that deserves its own title and focus) then so is the white pizza at Arcaro and Genelli's. The red sauce pie? Very disappointing. But the white pie is one of America's best. It must be judged on its own rights and merits which are different from the standards I would apply to others. But if I could have only one pizzaria next to me it would be Pepe's or Sally's, perhaps New Haven's Modern. But after these I honestly believe that I'd include Arcaro and Genelli's in the coin flip with several others...for a slice or two of their white pie.

                            1. re: Joe H.

                              I'd say that's pretty accurate. The broccoli and the stuffed potato are variations on the white. I haven't tried the places in the other cities that you mentioned, but my mouth is watering. Oh, some day, some day....

                              I don't really care for Victory Pig or Pizza Loven. For those outside of NE PA, those places "fry" their pizza in a thin coat of oil, is the best way I can describe it. That, too, is a "taste you grow up with", as JoeH so aptly writes. I grew up in Pittsburgh, with the parlors in Squirrel Hill; Mineo's and two others whose names escape me now. The best hoagies in the 'Burgh, back then anyhow, were either Beto's or Danny's, right next to each other in South Park. There, that will start an argument!


                              1. re: Mosca

                                Primanti Brothers in the warehouse district with their steak and cheese that has french fries on it. At 2 in the morning it was unrivalled. Doesn't Pittsburgh also have a pizza place where the owner chain smokes cigarettes while making the dough but is also something of a local legend? I've never been there but somewhere I read a review of it that just raved that it was among the best in America.
                                In Addition to the Victory Pig (if White Castle did pizza, i.e. onions) and Pizza Loven there was another pizza place that had been around about 40 years or so on the same road that they both are on, only about 10 miles south of Forty Fort. It was on the right hand side going north and they also sold their pies in some grocery stores. I can't remember the name of it but we really liked it. Not great but just really, really good basic pizza.
                                Still, Arcaro and Genelli's white pizza really did live up to its reputation. Plus the ambience when you walk in, well, you just known that you're in a storied red sauce Italian landmark!

                                1. re: Joe H.

                                  In the legendat category have to go tow pizza places:

                                  Vince the Pizza Prince in Scranton, on the 500 block of Pittston Ave.


                                  Delorenzo's on Hudson St. in Trenton, to me, the finest pizza in the country.

                                  1. re: Joe H.

                                    If you are in search of the greatest subs in PA - go to Williamsport. Any of the seemingly endless list of subshops easily out shines any others in the state. Williamsport has developed its own unique style of sub with a taste that I've never found in any other place thoughout the country. If fact, the NY Times did a feature article about this phenomenon during Little League week a few years back. As I said, they are all good, but here a few of my favorites: Joey's Place, Cellini's (in Montoursville), Newberry Subs, the Shamrock Cafe, & Donna's Food Works. If you truly appreciate a good sandwich, you owe it to yourself to go and enjoy! It's worth a weekend trip!!


                                    1. re: Mike

                                      I will be driving through Williamsport in about a month. Pick one and what should I order? I WILL go. Thanks.

                                      1. re: Mike

                                        Mike, If you like just sandwiches, go to Maseto's on Dewey AVenue in Old Lycoming Township. The size of the sandwiches are huge, the bread is fantastic and the newer restaurant is old home country charm.
                                        Lots of places in Williamsport as Rich P. mentions, and I've been to them all....all delicious and worth the $$ spent. Newberry, Shamrock Cafe; but the best by far is Berrigan Subs in Bloomsburg (mentioned below by someone) is OUR FAMILY OWNED SUB SHOP and has been in existence many years. I remember my Mom working with my Uncle Mike, who owned it, and his wonderful wife, Loretta, and they would test the recipe for the oil for the subs in their kitchens! The good thing was that we would reap the benefits without even leaving our home....we got to eat all the leftovers. I've also been to Pittsburgh as my son graduated from Point Park University (shout out to all the Pittsburghians) ...Y'ins goin ta the Stillers game? ) BEST PLACES THERE: FUEL AND FUDDLE, JOE MAMMA'S AND THE STRIP DISTRICT...ESP SMALLMAN STREET DELI. GREAT FOOD!!! WILLIAMSPORT OR PITTSBURGH!

                                      2. re: Joe H.
                                        Pizza place near Victory Pig & Pizza Lovin'

                                        I think you are refering to Sabatini's, on Rt. 11 in Exeter

                                    2. re: Joe H.

                                      You haven't lived until you've experienced Arcaro & Genell's double crusted white with spinach, topped with rosemary.

                                      1. re: Joe H.

                                        This is my first day at this site and I've seen dozens of recommendation for Old Forge Pizza. But I haven't seen Salerno's mentioned once, although I like it better than Revello's. Is there something I should know. . . ?

                                    3. re: Mosca

                                      Best sandwiches in Northeast PA---Tony's Restaurant in Kingston (Wyoming Ave. near Bonner Chevrolet). Jimmy (Tony's son) is keeping this sixty-plus year tradition going with the Italian Sandwiches/breakfasts of your dreams!!! Everything is grilled (porketta omelets, Sicilian sandwiches---at least 50 to try) and brought to life with oils, peppers, onions, cheeses and who knows what else!!! Truly a one of a kind experience!!! He's open 6a-2p M-F and until 1pm on Saturday. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

                                      Also, worth mentioning...the roast pork Italian with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe at Tony Luke's (South Philly).

                                      Best pizza in NEPA? Well, since no one mentioned Revello's in Old Forge---let me. Yeah, I did grow up with it...but I've never found a better square pie anywhere and even would rank it above the round Pepe's tomato and cheese.

                                      1. re: Stan

                                        Do a name search on Revello's, I reviewed it (and loved it) last spring. Maybe not the best, but still great. And thanks for the tip on Tony's. I used to live in Forty Fort (for about a year) and never heard of it. How about tht Fort Cafe's garlic pie, with sliced garlic cloves covering it like pepperoni would? Yum, but pass me the water, please!


                                        1. re: Stan

                                          Come to the quite little neighborhood of Enola, Pa. across the river from Harrisburg, where you can find the best Old Forge Pizza in the area. White pizza, red pizza, antipasto,wings, stromboli plus homemade pasta, soup and much more.Jigsy's Old Forge Pizza has won numerous awards and recognition, including 'Best Pizza 2002'in the Harrisburg area.Come by 167a South Enola Drive, Enola, Pa or visit

                                          1. re: Jigsy
                                            robin ardoline

                                            We love Chowhound!
                                            Jigsy's Old Forge Pizza has moved to 225 North Enola Rd in Enola,PA 17025 717-732-7708. Can you please update our listing? Thank you, Robin

                                        2. re: Mosca

                                          Speaking of Avoca there are 2 sub shops and the Valley Deli on Main st (which is also US Route 11 and 1/4 mile from the I-81 exit). The 2 sub places are average and 20 times better than a subway and the deli makes the best with quality rolls and good ingredients always freshly assembled to order.

                                2. If you're ever in West Chester, The Pepper Mill has the best cheese-steaks and some very impressive hoagies like the "Bleu Combo" with Turkey, Genoa Salami, and Blue Cheese dressing....fantastic. I now live in Center City Philadelphia with no shortage of great steak shops, but I still don't miss a chance to eat at the Pepper Mill when I'm in the 'burbs.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: RJV

                                    Do you know if Rosie's is still operating in WC? They used to have the best Italian Hogies, at least that's how I remember them growing up in Chester County.

                                  2. One of the best subs I have ever tasted is made at the Danville Sub Shop. Tony moved to Danville PA from NYC in 1969. He brought a family recipe that he reveals to noone! If you ever get to this shop, ask for the "Mary Ellen." I don't know how the nickname came about, but it's the best cheesesteak submarine sandwich I have ever experienced! The oils and herbs used put it above anything I have tasted from Philly (sorry). I now live in Boston, and I was his first employee. How I miss the cosmo sandwiches from Tony's place!


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Graphite Art

                                      I second your choice. Being from Riverside, but now living in Philadelphia. When I go home, I always look for a chance to pick up a turkey and provolone cosmo from here. A sandwich I have yet to find duplicated anywhere else. When I saw this post, I thought of mentioning this place. Glad someone beat me to it.

                                      They are also open 24 hours on the weekend and serve a killer breakfast.

                                      I'm getting hungry just posting this reply.

                                    2. Gooey Louie's at 231 McClellan Street, located near the intersection of Moyamensing and Tasker in the Pennsport Plaza makes one of the biggest, heaviest hoagies I've ever seen. So much meat and cheese is packed into it that it feels like a cinderblock when you pick it up and your left wondering how they pack so much into the roll. One sub will easily feed four people. Great cheesesteaks too.