HOME > Chowhound > Philadelphia >


Philly hoagies competitive with Atlantic City's White House Subs?

I'm taking my son to Philly from NYC for a day of sandwich gluttony. Our 2 definites are Mama's in Bala Cynwyd for cheesesteaks and Tony Luke's for roast pork w. provolone and broccoli rabe.

I was telling him about White House subs in AC but it's too far to drive in a one day marathon. Where in Philly is your favorite competitive hoagie or sub to White House? I'm guessing there'll be many different opinions...

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here's a start....but my nephew say Paesano's is the best.


    1. Honestly, I wasn't that impressed with White House vs most of what we have in Philly.

      Here is a short list of places to consider, all of which are not terribly far from Tony Luke's...

      Pastificio http://www.pastificiophilly.com/hoagi...

      Sarcone's Deli http://sarconesdeli.com/?page_id=8

      Chickie's http://chickiesdeli.com/hoagieMenu.html

      1. Second for Paesano's (9th street). Love the "Liveracce" sandwich:

        1. First of all Whitehouse is overrated. The bread is nice, but the quality of their ingredients does not stand up to the best in Philadelphia, and they drown the hoagie in oil.

          Salumeria in Reading Terminal would easily give it a run for its money.

          I would look for any place that uses Sarcones rolls,and has real aged provolone. In the burbs, I am partial to Silvios in Hatboro (make their own rolls) and Pallantes in Richboro.

          And you should try both Johns Roast Pork and DiNics Roast Pork and you will realize Tony Lukes is a shadow of those two.

          1. Everyone is right that Whitehouse subs are a particular style of hoagie that is not really in favor with Philly foodies right now. I agree that that bread is good and the rest is pretty meh. But they do taste good. Most of the favored places are using fancier (better) meats and crustier bread.

            I would have recommended Lee's for a hoagie that is a similar style and is good (but weaker bread), but I think all their city locations have closed and theyre only in a few suburbs now. The one in Abington is good if you are out that way, but really try one of the other places mentioned and I think you will enjoy.

            4 Replies
            1. re: barryg

              There is a Lee's on Rock Hill road about a mile from Mama's. OTOH l am a huge fan of Whitehouse for the bread and even more important there hot pepper spread is my absolute favorite. Can easily settle for less than stellar insides, and they always scoop the bread, always. IMVHO feel the ingredients in Phila hoagies is not too hot anyway, very processed unless you get the dry cured capicola and soppresatte.

              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                I just recently had a Lee's Italian Cheltenham at the Rock Hill location. Suprisingly, it was a choice for lunch between a Mama's cheese steak or a Lee's Hoagie!! It was my first time having a hoagie from Lee's and wasn't that impressed, especially for the price I paid for it (little under $10). I am somewhat biased though with my Italian hoagies, as I like to go as authentic with the meats as possible (hot capicola, sopressata, prosciutto, etc.) and Lee's were more Americanized. If you want a good Italian hoagie that is the best in the area, go to Pagano's in Drexel Hill (10-15 drive from Mama's)

                Pagano's -- http://www.paganosdeli.com/menu.html

                1. re: paychecktoday

                  The Cheltenham has American meats... you can also order an Italian hoagie with cap, sop and prosciutto. It may depend on location but general they don't carry the premium quality versions of these meats, like a place like Sarcone's does.

                  The "secret sauce" at Lee's has always been their seasoned oil.. elevates an average hoagie on decent bread to something better. But I agree they can't compete with the new-school places with better bread and a better variety of meats.

                  1. re: barryg

                    I do agree, the oil they put on the hoagie was pretty amazing. But my hoagie either had way too much oil, or the roll itself couldnt handle the oil, sweet peppers and hot pepper spread as my sandwich split halfway through the meal. I'd try it again to see if I have different results. Lee's from what I know has had a pretty strong following in the Philly area.

            2. I am going to second the recommendation that you try John's Roast Pork or DiNic's over Tony Lukes for roast pork. The last one I had at TL's was really not even up to their (previous) standards.
              For a hoagie I would suggest Cosmi's at 8th and Dickenson (plus you could grab dessert from Termini's right down the street!)

              2 Replies
              1. Grew up in Delco... extreme SE PA. Never went to the big 2 hoagie place in south Philly. Have NO experience with White house subs... BUT if they call it a "sub", I'd have doubts that it's a HOAGIE??

                If you're willing to take a short drive down 95 toward Delaware... have a recommendation. DeCostanza's!! Remember going iinto Chester as a kid with Dad for hoagies... thinking back like that deli scene from Godfather II. Mama D drizzling GOOD olive oil on GREAT bread (the secret to a good hoagie IMNSHO) outta one of those big squard gallon cans with a puncture in the corner. She'd slice us kids off a treat... started my love for provolone... and what happened to the pepper corns iin salami??

                D's moved outta Chester a LONG time ago... NOT NOT a safe place to be ini!! They moved to Claymont, DE for a while. Remember standing in line for hoagies on a super bowl sunday. Stuffed so full that we actually made 2 into 4 with more bread and the ABUNDANT meat/cheese.

                They're now literally a few minutes off 95S in the Chichester area... pretty sure they have a web site for more specific directions.

                HAVE to post a shout out to one of my favorites... Phil & Jim's in Parkside, PA. Used to be a lace called Wojies... killer hoagies and cheesesteaks. Seem to remember (coulD be urban legend) the guy packed up and went to Arizona, had BREAD shipped in and made a killing??

                2 Replies
                1. re: kseiverd

                  When I moved to Delaware twenty some years ago, I was told I had to go to DiCostanza's. Pretty much a loaf of Italian bread with a zillion pounds of meat on it. I had to take off a week's worth of lunch meat just to eat it. Yuk. Mountains of meat does not a good sandwich make. Balance is key.

                  Reminds me of talking to someone who owned a place called L&M Steaks. He proudly asks "Do you know what L&M stands for?" No I say. "Large and meaty" he beams. Umm yeah, I'll have to check it out. Next time I want to eat like a pig.

                2. Philly.com is holding a poll of what is the best hoagie shop in Philly. The list is 50 shops long, but they are excluding White House etc.


                  Amusingly, Primo is winning in a landslide (15% of the vote, to 8% for Sarcone's, and 6% for Wawa). I voted for Primo, simply because that's about the only place I've been and go to regularly (I'm not really a hoagie aficionado).

                  But it does seem unfair, since Primo and Wawa have so many locations versus Sarcone's.

                  So I guess you could really say, normalizing for the number of shops, Sarcone's is winning in a landslide.


                  18 Replies
                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    In the MacNow/WIP Best Hoagie in Philly contest a few years back, Primos came in toward the top w/the judges - #3, maybe? - but #1 with the crowd. (My understanding is that 'the crowd' or whatever it was called was the people who actually showed up and got to sample all of them, not just an on-line survery).
                    I really like primos, I might go w/them at #1.

                    1. re: Bob Loblaw

                      My problem with selecting them is that I see a variation from location to location. They source from different meat vendors and different bakeries which can make all the difference. It is not a consistent product.

                      1. re: cwdonald

                        Yes, there does seem to be quite a bit of variability between locations (and between staff).

                        Of the Primo locations I regularly visit, I like the best:


                        I do like the sesame seeds on the roll. On the whole, it's a pretty good product for a franchised chain.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          Primo's doesn't bake bread on site?

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            Other than Sarcone's Deli (which, technically isn't "on-site" but down the block) I don't know of any hoagie places that bake their own bread. Even Tony Luke's has an offsite location where he bakes bread, but from what I understand, they use "starters" that are made by an actual bakery.

                            1. re: Philly Ray

                              I thought most (all?) Primo's locations use Sarcone's bread. Also surprised to hear that meat sourcing varies because they rep Thumann's meats hard on their website and at every location I have been to.

                              Steve's Prince of Steaks bakes their own bread and makes hoagies. Pretty sure it comes parbaked. The bread is good but their hoagies are just average, especially compared to the steaks.

                              Wawa is about to start baking in-house, which scares me because all I can think of that that horrible smell that Subway restaurants have and I suspect their quality will be closer to that than Steve's.

                              1. re: barryg

                                From what l was told Primo's in Phila and near suburbs use Liscio's and a mushy, gummy bread it is. Different than what they started with. Due to the bread l do not frequent Primo's anymore. Carlino's in Ardmore bake their own bread.

                                1. re: barryg

                                  I have NEVER understood the appeal of Wawa (or Subway) hoagies in an area where you can find so many outstanding hoagies. And before anyone counters with the price argument, all I can say is, you get what you pay for.

                                  1. re: Philly Ray

                                    I happen to live in an area with great Italian/French/Sub/Hoagie rolls available. Some prefer the softer bread than crisp or crusty bread ultimately for their choice.

                                    Some live to eat ....and some eat to live. I suspect your answer is in the latter.

                                    1. re: Philly Ray

                                      depends on what you mean by "area" - I can walk to a wawa, i'd have to drive to anywhere else.

                                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                        I live in a Philadelphia hoagie dead zone (Mt. Airy) and I can walk to Wawa or drive 10 minutes to Chestnut Hill to the new Primo's location. Is it even a question as to where to go particularly for a proper Italian?

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          same 'hood for me. not every meal needs to be a culinary masterpiece. i can stop by at the end of a jog or some errands, get what i'd say is a solid, consisent, B- hoagie at WaWa. i probably do this 3-4x/year.

                                          1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                            For an Eagles game it's an Italian from either Primo's or Lenny's (Roxborough) and a growler of Victory. Is it football season yet?

                                    2. re: barryg

                                      WAWA has already started baking in house. I know they do at the one at 17th and Arch. I had it once.. and never again.

                                      1. re: barryg

                                        Part of the reason the franchisee's are not required to purchase Thuman's can be inferred from this news article. http://www.nj.com/gloucester-county/i...

                                        1. re: cwdonald

                                          What reason? He's going to jail for tax evasion, not ripping off franchisees.

                                          1. re: barryg

                                            They were required to purchase Thuman's through that distributor. My understanding is they were released from that requirement after the case went forward. Not to mention Primo's is opening in areas outside of thuman's distribution, such as Florida.

                                      2. re: Philly Ray

                                        Silvio's in Hatfield definitely does. And Whitehouse in AC gets their bread from a bakery across the street.

                                        And WAWA and Subway bake their own, which is proof you don't always want it baked in house.