Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cheesesteak or Roast Pork? Which is Philly's Best Sandwich?

As has been discussed in these pages before, I firmly believe the cheesesteak is Philadelphia's finest contribution to our nation's rich, grease-stained culinary tapestry. But I would have to be a fool to ignore the fact that the roast pork sandwich has slowly but surely been making inroads into the Philly food scene.

In fact, a recent article in the Inquirer debates this sticky (greasy?) subject: has the roast pork sandwich passed the venerable cheesesteak as Philly's signature sandwich. (The topic was originally broached by a Washington Post writer, but I put zero stock in the food musings of anybody who would drive from Silver Spring, MD to Geno's for a cheesesteak or that calls a "hoagie" a "sub".)

For me the answer is easy... it's a quick, no-brainer "no". In fact, I'd rather have a good hoagie like the one I recenty had from Cosmi's Deli in South Philly than a roast pork sandwich anyday. Granted that's based on the couple roast pork sandwiches I've had (Tony Luke's and Chickie's & Pete's) versus the hundreds (thousands?) of hoagies and cheesesteaks I've eaten in my lifetime.

But it's also based on one other important factor... I make great roast pork and I have yet to find a sandwich that lives up to what I think it should be. Don't get me wrong, the sandwiches from Tony Luke's and C&P were fine but they were just that. Fine. Not life-altering. Not something I'm making an hour detour to get after a Flyers game. And certainly not something I'd spend an afternoon sampling at establishment after establishment.

For more on the never-ending quest for cheesesteak nirvana check out the blog Mayor McCheesesteak's Cheesesteak Reviews. While the mayor and I strongly disagree on his rankings (I rank Dallesandro's [pictured above] and Cosmi's up with Steve's at the top of the list and Pat's, Jim's and Geno's waaaayyyy down below) I admire his endeavor and have to admit I'm a little jealous that he's close enough to the center of the Cheesesteak Universe while I'm down here with crabs, pit beef and crappy bread.

What's your take on the cheesesteak versus roast pork debate? And, to steal a question from my niece, would you rather have a cheesesteak or a hoagie?

5 comments:

Douglas A. Waltz said...

I make my own roast pork and would probably hate most places ideas of a roast pork sandwich. I will say that we have a little restuarant here in Kalamazoo called Julianne's located right off the I-94 business loop that makes a magnificent hot beef sandwich. The mashed potatoes are home made and instead of sliced roast beef they use hunks of beef roast instead. MAgnificent! I would pick a cheesesteak over a hoagie.

Louis Fowler said...

There's got to be some way I can have both at the same time, possibly in the same sandwich...

Dan said...

They should make some sort of Philly Phenom Sandwich with roast pork, scrapple, pork roll and cheesesteak on a soft pretzel roll.

John said...

Since I'm not a Philadelphian, I don't know if I can comment with authority. But I've always liked the cheesesteak! Never, ever could get into scrapple, and I think your blog was the very first time I had ever heard of pork roll!

soggieone said...

I actually like Jim's, but I haven't tried Dallesandro's. There are certainly better steaks than Pat's but sometimes you just have to go there for the atmosphere. But when it comes down to ordering in and watching a flick, some of the local pizza joints make a fine cheesesteak, like Gaetano's mentioned in a later post. The gimmicky places (Pat's Geno's Jims, etc.) tend to chinch on the meat, but the locals can really pile it up. Definitely cheessteaks over roast pork though. As Dan said, Tony Luke's and Chickie's and Pete's are good, but not earth-shattering -- or enough to make me steer (I'm so punny) away from the ultimate Philly food.