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A Sandwich a Day: Classic Italian Hoagie from Amato's Deli in Philadelphia
In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year—so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. —The Mgmt.
A common argument among Philadelphians is what sandwich defines us best: the famous cheesesteak or the slightly lesser known roast pork. While I've eaten plenty of both, my vote goes to the Italian hoagie. Not a ham and cheese sub, or some ciabatta-arugula trainwreck, but a real Philadelphia hoagie.
Served on fresh, crusty seeded Italian bread and loaded with a variety of freshly sliced Italian meats, provolone cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and often garnished with some sort of hot pepper product, oregano, and olive oil. (putting mayo on an Italian hoagie is like putting ketchup on a hot dog—you probably shouldn't.)
My long standing favorites are Cosmi's Deli and P&S Ravioli, but almost every corner of the city has a neighborhood deli with hoagies that would leave deli sandwiches from most other cities in the dust. Amato's is a neighborhood deli/market in deep South Philly (not too far from the stadiums) that's up there with some of the best.
As my hoagie was being made I listened to the head deli guy instruct his young apprentice on the proper layering of meat and cheese. I don't think anywhere else in the world puts as much care into the craft of sandwich-making as Philadelphia.
Amato's Classic Italian consisted of a thick roll of freshly thin sliced genoa salami, ham, cappacola, mild provolone, roasted peppers, tomato and lettuce on fresh Italian bread from Liscio's bakery in Jersey. Beautiful and delicious.
Their menu is massive, with all the Philly classics: cheesesteaks, cutlets, roast pork, homemade roast beef with sharp provolone and longhots, and even a scrapple burger. It doesn't quite beat some of the better places that use serious Italian salumi like hot sopresatta and mortadella in their hoagies, but it's up there, and I'll happily continue combing Philadelphia for the best.