Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >
Feb 2, 2011 10:46 AM

What makes the Philadelphia Italian Hoagie different from the rest?

I'm doing a little research into Philadelphia-style hoagies. Chime in on your iconic sandwich and why it's different than New York, Maine or Subway sandwiches. I'm not interested in the best sandwich shops, but I would like to learn about the construction of Philly's hoagies.

Here's my questions:

1. Yes, I know it's about the bread, but this is for the rest of us in the world that can't get Amoroso's in our home town. I've heard it's not as crusty as New York grinders, and a medium-soft texture to the inside that lies somewhere between NY and the pillow-softness of New Orleans po' boys.
2. This is NOT about the cheesesteak!! I'm talking specifically about the ITALIAN cold hoagie.
3. Mayo... yes or no?
4. Vinegar... yes or no?
5. Favorite cold cuts?
6. Is salami a must?
7. How about capicola?
8. Spice blend... is it just salt, pepper, basil, oregano?
9 Peppers.. yes or no? Chopped in a relish or whole? Hot or sweet?

Go ahead you Philly experts! Break down you Philly favs for me.

Thanks a lot for your input.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. -The roll is key and yes, it's sort of semi crusty on the outside but with a softer texture than a baguette.
    -NO! NO MAYO! That will get you shot, just kidding. Oil is what is used and not even olive oil in most places
    -NO VINEGAR, not authentic
    -Hard salami, cooked salami, capicola, that's about it for a standard run-of-the-mill hoagie. Provolone cheese is a must, no others.
    -Salt, pepper and oregano
    -Lettuce, tomato, and onion
    -Peppers can be hot or sweet. The hoagie "sweet peppers" in the Philly region are sort of a pickeled sweet and sour type that you really can't find outside the area.

    5 Replies
    1. re: 94Bravo

      THIS is the Phila. hoagie. Best quality meats and provolone.

      1. re: 94Bravo

        I agree w/ everything except that I DO get may AND oil & vinegar! Best Philly hoagie place? Delassandro's, on Ridge Avenue.

        1. re: Sashak4

          +1 Delssandro's!
          Wow, I miss Philly ;=(

          1. re: monavano

            Unless something has changed recently. Dalessandro's is not what it once was. For steaks people go across the street to Chubby's which is OK but not memorable either.

            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Surely, you jest. Take a trip down to Henry Ave. on any given day/time and compare the numbers of customers at each place. It's no contest for quality OR quantity.

              My only complaint about d'Alessandro's is that they desperately need more space. The cheesesteaks and hoagies are outstanding, and the people are simply first-rate; but the small interior space is often crowded like a frat party.

      2. Just fair warning that this thread will soon degenerate into the caliber of "Cheesesteak wars." Everyone has an opinion. From my understanding, the hoagie was originally a loaf of Italian bread generously lubricated with high quality olive oil, laden with sliced Italian meats and cheeses and generously sprinkled with oregano. This was the original Hogg Island sandwich that the shipbuilders took to work. Tomatoes, lettuce, onion and peppers came much later.

        Bread is very important. Amoroso's is not the be all and end all. Its good but I prefer Conshohocken Italian Bakery. Mayo makes a submarine or whatever else you want to call it. Its blasphemy on a real hoagie. Vinegar on a hoagie is unknown to me. Meats must be high quality Italian recipe. If you have salami, it should be Genoa, not German hard salami. Capicolla is great. Mortadella, too. Provolone but never Swiss or American cheese. Shredded lettuce, tomats and onion if you like. Garnish with top quality olive oil, sliced pepperonici and oregano. That's my take on a real hoagie. I'm sure to get broadsided for this but let's rock and roll!

        9 Replies
        1. re: Chefpaulo

          Agree with a lot of what Chef Paul says... It is interesting Sarcone's includes vinager on their Italian Hoagie. For me oil vinager salt pepper oregano are good.. especially if the oil is not top notch olive.

          If you want to start another war about bread... sesame seeds or no sesame seeds.

          Conshohocken Bakery, or Sarcones rolls make the best hoagies IMNSHO.

          1. re: Chefpaulo

            Ya got it! Don't forget the high concentration of Ital. immigrants, and their great crusty breads, and high quality lunch meats and cheeses. This Italian immigrant population is the crux. In Maine , the hoagie is the "Eye-talian and is inedible. In the southwest they don't have the Ite. pop and don't have a clue.
            While in college in Allentown, I played for George's Hoagie Shop in intra-mural sports.
            Give me 9th Street or give me....

            1. re: Passadumkeg

              Yeah, I lived in SE Ohio for a few years--pitiful. Even the places that had "Italian subs" could not produce oil without vinegar. It was apparently premixed for them and so there was no actual olive oil in the place. Between that and the tasteless bread and meat, why bother?

              1. re: gaffk

                Food is like real estate: location, location, location.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  Tell me about it. I go to school around DC and I recently tried out their prized possession Italian Hoagie shop. My local Wawa puts this place to shame. A hunk of random lunch meats(i think including bologna) and mayo. Mayo? Really?

                  I know it's not necessarily authentic, but Primo's hoagies in Marlton hits the spot for me. They throw a bit of a spin on it(it's called the Italian Diablo) with some Paprika and some other stuff. Good though.

                  1. re: tzanghi

                    If the franchisees are anything like the Primo's "mother ship" in South Philly, they are absolutely authentic. I think in this quest for authenticity, people sometimes conjure up an ideal that cannot be achieved.

              2. re: Passadumkeg

                Love George's hoagies, with vinegar! Do you know where they get their rolls?? In my opinion(humble that it is) it is the best-------of course i am a no seeds person.

                1. re: bonappetite

                  Sorry, I left the area a looooong time ago.
                  Send me Jacco's, please!

              3. re: Chefpaulo

                CP pretty much has it down pat!
                and I'm with you on the rolls, Conshy bakery or Sarcones really are the best
                (I know the o/p said to not make it about the rolls, but really how can you NOT make it about the roll?)

                I also found it funny that Sarcones does the oil & vinegar thing, but they also use a generous amount of oregano.

                there's different ways of putting the sandwich together taht I've noticed too,

                some places do cheese and some meat, then lettuce tomato, more meat and then onions on top
                I don't really care whether the roll has seeds or not, I like both as long as it's a good quality roll

                I am stealing a quote from another person on another thread (who I wish I could remember the name so I can credit)

                I Only Eat food that is delicious... so I've sworn off Wawa hoagies. I can get better at any local pizza joint so bye bye Wa-wa for hoagies

                (and my own personal preference is to put a fried long hot in there between the cheese and the roll.. HEAVEN)

              4. Not necessarily Amoroso's, but definitely a good Italian roll delivered fresh every morning (and at busier spots morning and noon). And to kick off cwdonald's war--please no seeded rolls.

                Good olive oil--Bravo is correct that mayo will get you shot ;), but I disagree that there are good places that use anything but olive oil. And I would add that vinegar would also be an executable offense for me.

                Quality meats: cappicola (or gabagoo as my BIL says), Italian hard salami, provolone. Shredded lettuce, tomato, onion. Salt, pepper, oregano and a final squirt of olive oil. Hot or sweet peppers are optional, but whole--not relish.

                1. 1. Sarcone's without a doubt
                  2. The South Philly Italian in Sonny's (Limerick) is the BEST!
                  3. Mayo - NO WAY
                  4. Vinegar... could go either way, but I think the better the bread and cuts of meat, it's a @ Sonny's NO, @ Wawa YES
                  5. the best Italian cold cuts
                  6. Is salami a must? not really
                  7. How about capicola? yes
                  8. Spice blend... is it just salt, pepper, basil, oregano? Basil, no way
                  9 Peppers.. yes or no? Chopped in a relish or whole? Hot or sweet? I prefer hot cherry peppers

                  1. Love this thread.I'll bite!

                    1. For me its not so much about the bread its what's inside. and don't like seeds
                    2. I love Italian hoagies so much more than cheesesteaks!
                    3. Mayo... NO
                    4. Vinegar... YES don't forget the OIL
                    5. Favorite cold cuts? SHARP PROVOLONE CHEESE
                    6. Is salami a must? YES
                    7. How about capicola? YES
                    8. Spice blend... is it just salt, pepper, basil, oregano? SALT< PEPPER< OREGANO
                    9 Peppers.. yes or no? Chopped in a relish or whole? Hot or sweet I LOVE THE PEPPER SPREAD AT SALUMERIA- but if elsewhere i order HOT peppers to give it a little BITE!

                    OTHER HOAGIE FAVS: Turkey/cheese/roasted peppers. Roast beef/cheese/sweet peppers. I'm also a WAWA fan.