Hot Dog of the Week

A unique hot dog feature each week from hot dog connoisseur and cartoonist Hawk Krall!

Hot Dog Of The Week: Tuscan Tony

"The Tuscan Tony is pure Philadelphia."

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[Photographs and original artwork: Hawk Krall]

This week's dog is a one-of-a-kind creation from Paesano's in Philadelphia, and a strong modern contender for the city's signature hot dog. Philadelphia has a rocky history with hot dogs. Although we've had some unique contributions to hot dog history, they're often passed over for cheesesteaks and hoagies.

Anyone from the area might know the Philly Fish Cake Combo or Texas Tommy, both of which have been covered here before. Some might even remember the "Kosher Tommy," a Kosher hot dog wrapped in beef salami sold in delicatessens years ago, almost gone today save for a few delis on the outskirts of the city.

Steven Starr's Square Burger attempted to bring back the wiener with the Philly Dog, which is wrapped in salami and topped with pickles, cherry peppers, and tomatoes. Though a nod to the Kosher Tommy, it really comes off as more of a Chicago knockoff. But Paesano's gets it right. The Tuscan Tony is pure Philadelphia.

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A split and grilled all-beef hot dog, wrapped in sopressata and roasted long hot peppers (long hots are milder than jalapeƱos and a standard topping for roast pork sandwiches) and covered in bolognese sauce—all served on Sarcone Bakery's bread.

The Sarcone's is part of what puts it over the top. Some of the best bread in the city, it's made fresh every day and the mark of a good Philly sandwich. I've had hot dogs on soft steak rolls but they end up being a bit too bready. The crusty Sarcone's, on the other hand, does a much better job holding in all the bolognese.

Paesano's might be taking Philly sandwiches to a gourmet level but the vibe is more sandwich shop than boutique. It's a tiny storefront with about six seats at the counter where the cooks present you with a foil placemat and much needed hand wipes as soon as you sit down. The framed photos of the owners with local celebrities—and one of a whole roasted pig—affirms that you're at the right place.

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Paesano's is a relative newcomer to the city but has already racked up several awards including Best Italian Hoagie from WIP sports radio after an exhaustive two-month marathon tasting of 56 hoagies from across the area. And their "Arista," a whole-roasted suckling pig with broccoli rabe and long hots just snagged the #3 spot on Bon Appetit's Best Restaurant Dishes of 2009 (the "Budget Edition").

I started with the hot dog for obvious reasons but I'm dying to try the "Paesano," brisket with horseradish mayo and a fried egg.

If you're planning an eating trip to Philly I would definitely put Paesano's and the Tuscan Tony on the list. The only problem is that it's in Northern Liberties (a bit out of the way) but they have a second location planned for the heart of the Italian Market (a larger space with an expanded menu) set to open next week!

Paesano's

152 West Girard Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19123 (map)
267-886-9556

Paesano's II

9th and Christian Street, Philadelphia PA 19147 (map)
Set to open Wednesday, February 3

Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who has a serious thing for hot dogs. Dig his dog drawings? Many of the illustrations he has created for Hot Dog of the Week are available for sale: hawkkrall.net/prints/.

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