Philly’s Second Sandwich-Roast Pork, Sharp Provolone and Greens
Second isn’t all that bad. Being the second richest person in the world wouldn’t suck. And young Deniro playing the Don in Godfather 2 is arguably the best movie of the trilogy. Same with Empire Strikes Back, although that’s actually episode V, so probably not a great example. My point is, being second is okay. And in the case of Philly’s second sandwich, it’s more than okay. It's great!
The thinly sliced roast pork hoagie, piled high with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe or spinach depending on where you go (often topped with long hots) is as quintessentially
Philadelphia as spotting Rocky Balboa eating at a cheesesteak jawn while rapping the words to "Parents Just Don't Understand." But unlike the universal popularity of a Whiz With the deliciousness of the juicy, pungent, red headed stepchild of a sandwich is mostly undiscovered outside the boundaries of The City of Brotherly Love.
Where can I find one?
Practically anywhere that sells a cheesesteak, also makes a roast pork. In my college years, I’d often stand 20 people deep in the intersection of Passyunk and 9th late at night waiting for Pat’s, only to flip around and eat my cheesesteak while waiting in line for a roast pork at Genos. Gluttony and metabolism at its finest. As my palate matured and I started looking for the best of the best, I discovered Tommy Dinic’s at the Reading Terminal Market. Dinic’s earned The Travel Channel's title of best sandwich of the year in 2012 finally giving it some nationwide shine.
Take that second best!
The Gaetano Family has been selling roast pork and beef sandwiches out of their garage since 1954, but according to Dinic’s website, the forefather Nicolosi opened a butcher shop in South Philly as early as 1918. Tommy Dinic’s is run by Tommy Nicolosi and his son Joey. Meanwhile cousin Frank DiClaudio owns the Dinic's Navy Yard location. Whichever one you choose to visit; the mastery of their craft is apparent at first smell. Both continue to share the original recipe including the hand sliced funky sharp provolone and a heaping layer of juicy, thinly shaved pork on a locally baked hoagie roll. This by itself is a masterpiece but by adding the bitter greens and heat from the long hots, there's no doubt why this won the country's best sandwich.
John’s Roast Pork has been selling their pork sandwich with “pop pops” recipe since 1930 in the nether regions of South Philly. They use a seeded long roll and spinach variety for one of the city’s best meals. Their cheesesteak is also in my top 5.
Angelo’s on 9th is one of the newer kids on the block and was given a high 9.1 by Dave Portnoy for their pizza, but the cheesesteaks oozing with melted Cooper Sharp Cheese and their loaded pork sandwiches are game changing. If you're feeling like being healthy, ask for the broccoli rabe and spinach, as they offer both. But make note: detachable jaw not included
It's not just hoagies
There seems to be a watering hole on every corner in Philadelphia. And chances are there’s a limited food menu of roast pork and beef on kaiser rolls served on paper plates. Just enough substance to keep the Yards flowing and Rock & Rye shots pouring but don’t judge a book by its cover. These neighborhood spots offer some of the tastiest sandwiches in the city. Check out Nick’s Roast Beef. You can’t go wrong with their beef, pork or even turkey sandwiches but I suggest you mix it up and order their Gravy Fries with Roast Pork.
In Logan Square, The Cherry Street Tavern occupies a space that’s been a bar since 1905. Not only does their hot pork and cheese photograph like a Kardashian in a bikini,
their peppers and fresh horseradish clear the sinuses. This is the perfect sandwich to pregame before heading down to the LINC.
Philly is second only to New Orleans in terms of American food capitals in my opinion, but I think I just proved that being second isn't a bad thing, just like the Fightin' Phils finishing runner up in the World Series. Next time you are in town, do yourself a favor and grab one of these for dinner. And then if there's room, go back for the steak, trust me you'll be happy you did.