I first read about Lombardi's on some xeroxed Philadelphia Inquirer hoagie article from 1997 that my father mailed to me. Nobody I knew had ever heard of it, much less eaten there, and internet coverage was spotty at best. I tried to go there a few times but it was always closed, maybe for good.
Until the other day when the door opened to the small deli counter wallpapered with aging Eagles clippings, a massive Pink Floyd poster, and a menu offering hoagies topped with hot frigadelles (hot italian frying peppers) and salaminchini—pepperoncini stuffed with salami-wrapped provolone, a cousin to pepper shooters and possibly unique to this establishment.
The Tribune is garnished with a handful of these awesome things, halved and jammed into the sandwich along with dry cured capicola (the real stuff, similar to prosciutto) and regular capicola (the pink stuff that's more like deli ham). I've had plenty of hoagies topped with pepper shooters—pickled cherry peppers stuffed with sharp provolone and prosciutto—and honestly, I like these salamincini about a million times better.
Their hoagies aren't the put-you-to-sleep-at-lunch giants some places offer, but are the perfect size with just the right meat-to-bread ratio, and are pretty reasonable at $6.88 for a regular half-loaf hoagie. The menu is really Italian-heavy here, with at least a dozen different combinations of cured meats, provolone cheese and hot pepper products with names like "The Centurion" and "The Gladiator."
Lombardi's Specialty Hoagies
1226 Ritner St, Philadelphia PA 19148 (map)
About the author: Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based illustrator who writes and draws the Hot Dog of the Week column on Serious Eats—now bringing regular Philadelphia burger coverage as well. If you have suggestions, let him know!