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Hoagies [split from Philly]

The best hoagies aren't found in Philly. They're found in the small towns throughout PA, most notably Williamsport PA. However, the best hoagie rolls do come from Philly. Just my humble opinion.

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  1. Can you be more specific? I.e., names of towns and
    shops you've sampled?

    1. That's a bold statement Lynn. Philly has about 50 small towns located inside of it, they're called "neighborhoods", and most of them can produce a pretty good hoagie. Except the Northeast, of course. Nobody likes the Northeast.

      I kid, I kid...

      1. I've never seen anything on par with Sarcones in central PA. Nothing even close (having grown up there.) But I'd love to think there is! I drive through the Wililiamsport area a few times a year, so any info would be great.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Boognish

          You're so right Cheesesteak, it is a bold statement. And while I certainly have not sampled most of the hoagies in the Philly metro area, I'm just not a fan of the ones that I have had. Perhaps it's just a regional thing, but the Philly hoagies generally have too much meat for my taste. I like a good balanced, bread to meat ratio, not too much oil & vin and for me a hoagie has to have "wet peppers" - the crushed red peppers w/ seeds in oil that are oh so zippy. I'll admit, I'm a central PA girl and so we believe we hail from hoagie country. Williamsport and the small towns that surround it and NE PA (i.e. Scranton, Wilke-Barre). But that Philly bread is a huge, huge part of what make a good hoagie, IMHO.

          Boognish, You want the best Hoagie in Williamsport? In my opinion it's at Ed's Market at 1200 Franklin St. Peachie will take good care of you. Oh, and while you're there, grab a bag of MIddleswarth bbq chips. You can't get 'em anywhere but central PA - not even online (well, there is a company called PA Snacks that sells & distributes them online, but MIddleswarth does not sell them online). The best Williamsport cheesesteak can be found at Joey's Place - where they use strictly provolone - no whiz to be found.

          Also in Wmspt, is Newberry Sub Shop, 2002 Newberry St. - great little place with quality hoagies, cosmos and cheesesteaks.

          Near The Lycoming Mall in Muncy is Hall's Station Sub Shop, 273 Lycoming Mall Dr.

          DeSanto Subs in Montoursville. http://www.desantosubs.com/

          In Lewisburg down Rt. 15 is Dor-Day's Sub Shop, 1226 Market St. They are okay, but they don't use the wet peppers.

          1. re: lynnlato

            +1 for Middleswarth BBQ chips! My family and friends shipped them to me when I was out of the area, but now, every time I'm in central PA (a geographical area that seems to stretch almost as far from Johnstown to Lancaster), I get myself a tiny bag as a treat! Do you miss the paper barrels?

            Also, when you say "wet peppers," do you mean something like crushed red cherry peppers? You can get them on the hoagies in the Philly area.

            Thanks for the recommendations; I look forward to trying them when I'm in the area!

            1. re: mookleknuck

              I SO miss the barrels! What the heck, they kept the chips fresh just as good as sealed bags (because they always sold out of them).

              And yes, the crushed cherry peppers. Love those darned things. Now I'm craving an Ed's hoagie and a bag of Middleswarth - damn! (I''ve been in NC for 16 yrs... but I get back to Central PA often and when I do, I grab a hoagie/cosmo/cheesesteak and a "small" bag of chips too). :)

              1. re: lynnlato

                What's a cosmo? Is it different from a hoagie? (I will assume it's different from cheesesteak!)

                You know, you can buy the crushed cherry peppers in the jar! I like to keep them in the fridge for making my own subs and hoagies.

                1. re: mookleknuck

                  A cosmo is a heated hoagie. Kind of like a regular or Italian becomes a grinder when it is heated. Good Lord, I never realized there was such an extensive lingo until now. Ha!

                  Yes, I buy my "wet peppers" from an Italian deli in Wililamsport called Tony's Deli, on Washington Blvd. Williamsport has another kind of canned/jarred Italian pepper that nowhere else seems to have. They are called Italian bread peppers. All the Italians in town can their own and the local Italian restaurants serve them in a bowl w/ Italian bread at the beginning of a meal. They are basically rings of banana peppers tossed w/ oregano and fresh cloves of garlic and olive oil. Sometimes they add sliced green olives and red hot pepper flakes. They are addictive and are great on pizza, hoagies, salads, bread, etc.

                  1. re: lynnlato

                    A heated hoagie is a grinder. Sometimes w ground beef. The genre has been tainted by quiznos and subway's heated sandwiches.

                    1. re: gfweb1

                      No, not in Central PA. It is, and always has been, a cosmo. A grinder is only a heated Italian/regular.

                      And I've never had a hoagie/grinder/cosmo with ground beef. Unless you mean a cheeseburger hoagie?

                      What is Quiznos & Subway?

                      1. re: lynnlato

                        One of the blessings of central PA is there are no wretched sandwich chains like Quizno's and Subway. Lousy rolls, lousy meat and a really weird smell most of the time.
                        They are the Porta Potty of sandwich places. You only go in when you absolutely have to.

                        1. re: gfweb1

                          So true, gfweb1. A subway opened in Wmspt. several years ago and it blows my mind that people ever go in there. Same with Olive Garden - why the Hell would the locals go there when they have locally owned red sauce joints all over the place? It baffles me.

                          What I wouldn't give for one of each here in NC. But alas...

        2. There's something about Schuylkill River water that makes bread & rolls so good (probably something toxic like PCB's, mercury or arsenic). . . . I grew up in Schuylkill County and I'm not fond of any of the hoagies there.

          My favorite hoagies are from Primo which is expanding their franchises out of Philly into the PA/NJ/DE suburbs. The rolls have a thin, crisp shell & a pillowy interior. They use Thumann's meats & cheese which are really tasty. The provolone is so sharp it could cut your tongue! Best cheese I've ever had on a sandwich.

          1 Reply
          1. re: janebond462

            My mother opened her own hoagie shop in the NC Outer Banks back in the 80's. We had vacationed there for many years and the area was slowly starting to grow (who knew it would evolve into what it is today?) and so my parents decided we should move there and open a restaurant. My mom knew there was no way she would find good bread in NC so she had our hoagie rolls shipped town from Philly. Smart lady she was. :)

          2. I've been told that the single most important ingredient in bread/rolls/etc. is the water- nothing else determines the flavor of the end product as significantly as H2O. I'm not a scientist, but I've been told this by bakers in various corners of the world. Supposedly, the secret to San Francisco's world-famous sourdough bread (as well as their croissants) is the local water. Boudin's (pronounced "bo - deen's) bakery will ship fresh sourdough to your door.

            Tallarico's produces an excellent wet, ground, hot pepper item that can be spread on hoagies; sort of a relish-like quality to it. In fact, the name of the product (which is packaged in a jar) is "hoagie spread." I'm not aware of their regional availability, but if you can obtain their various products (including "steak sauce") I recommend that you try them.

            As to cheesesteaks and Italian hoagies, I'm particular to a hole-in-the-wall joint in Millville, NJ named "Shannon's." (There is now a second shop not far away). Incredible flavor, quality ingredients, and bang for your buck. A thoroughly stuffed 2-foot cheesesteak is only $9 (as of autumn, 2011)! My wife and I can really scarf down some grub, but we can't finish the 2-footer between us!

            1. Well, I grew up in central Pa too (Lancaster County) and the hoagies (and cheesesteaks) I have had in Philly are generally superior to most local varieties.

              On the other hand we have MUCH better soft pretzels.

              2 Replies
              1. re: brookquarry

                Brookquarry, I would definitely agree that the sheets of Philly Soft Pretzels are not on the top of the list for me either; have had much better elsewhere. It is hard to beat Pretzels of any texture from Berks, Lancaster and Lebanon counties in PA once known as the Pretzel Capital of the US.

                1. re: brookquarry

                  BQ, you may be interested in a topic on the Philadelphia board regarding Soft Pretzels. You will note that the posters recall better/different pretzels and are at best conflicted regarding those now being offered.

                  1. You are right on the best hoagie rolls coming from Philly. If you are in Lancaster, the most spectacular hoagies are at Joni's place at the corner of Liberty and Prince Streets. Great Food. Great folks.

                    1. Newberry subs in Williamsport, I can even smell them once in a while and I live in Florida !

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Nastalthia

                        They are good! More recently, it's usually where I go for a hoagie when I'm visiting Williamsport. Love their regular/Italians, ham hoagies and cheese cosmos... damn, now I'm craving a cosmo. :(

                      2. I thought this was quite a wild statement....Then I found myself in Williamsport this week, so I decided to give it a try. I couldn't remember any of the names of the places mentioned here so I asked one of the locals at the hotel and he recommened the Newberry Sub Shop. I got one with Canadian Bacon and cheese which was loaded with wet hot peppers.

                        I'm not sure that it was the best I've ever had, but it sure it very near the top of the list!! I'll be going back in a few weeks, and I'm going to make a stop at Ed's Market this time.


                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Burghfeeder

                          Burghfeeder, Newberry Sub Shop was a solid choice! Sadly, Ed's Market is no longer owned by the family that made it a great sandwich shop. I'm still mourning that loss but hopefully the new owners will keep things similar to the Peachie and her crew. Let us know how you make out!

                          1. re: lynnlato

                            Good news! I read that the new owner of Ed's is actually a previous employee that loved the business and doesn't intend to change the menu or food preparation.


                            1. re: Burghfeeder

                              Well that gives me hope! I'll have to swing by next time I'm in town.

                              I read your blog post. The photo made my mouth water and me yearn for a hoagie - even at 8:30am. Those "wet peppers" as we like to call them, are the be all to end all IMHO. FYI, all the hoagie shops and Italian restaurants in Williamsport have a unique condiment that we call Italian peppers. It's basically banana peppers sliced into rings and packed into canning jars and filled with garlic cloves, herbs and olive oil and finished with a splash or two of vinegar. There are a few variations - the sandwich "wet peppers" are finely chopped for instance - but they are so delicious. The Italian restaurants serve them at the start of a meal w/ a basket of Italian bread. They are good on pizza too.