Chain Gang | A heap of hoagies from Slack's

Hold the mayo, veggies for a satisfying sandwich

Posted: August 24, 2007

SO THE Chain Gang breaks the bank on its Big Italian extravaganza two weeks ago and within a week the company announces it needs to sell the building.

Coincidence?

We're not taking any chances.

We're eating hoagies.

And we're going to Slack's Hoagie Shack.

Actually we're going right by Slack's Hoagie Shack, twice driving by the strip mall location at 2499 Aramingo Ave.

Calling two hours ahead, we go pick up 12 sandwiches and three salads (yes, Gangsters ordered salads) and lug them back to the Gang hideout, soon to be expensive condos.

First, kudos on the order. Twelve sandwiches and only one minor mistake - that's pretty good for any eatery. And the mistake was standard Philadelphia - no matter how many times you say "no cheese" on the turkey hoagie, you always get cheese. It's like a reflex.

As for the hoagies themselves, they varied in quality, as hoagies often do. And when hoagies are traveling - on a hot day, no less - watch out.

Hauling the sandwiches back to the hideout - the car smelled great, by the way - the Gang leader realized that hoagies are sort of like cars. They start to depreciate the minute you take them off the lot.

That said, some hoagies, like some cars, depreciate less than others.

Slack's new "Godfather" ($6.99) works well either there or to go. Drizzled with oil and piled high with sharp Provolone cheese, prosciutto, Genoa salami, Capicola and roasted peppers on a seeded Amoroso's roll, the "Godfather" was a sandwich we couldn't refuse.

One Gangster said it would replace the standard Italian hoagie he usually ordered.

As for those standard Italians ($5.20), they also scored well.

One Gangster devoured his so fast he clamored for another. Another said the sandwich, although not the best he'd ever had, was far superior to the Italian hoagies at chains like Quizno's and Subway.

Gangsters watching their figures ordered Slack's Cacciatore Salad ($6.25), made with diced, grilled chicken, sweet peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, croutons and Parmigiana cheese. It too traveled well, tasted good and was plenty filling. Way better than those McDonald's/Wendy's salads.

The Meatball Parmigiana ($5) was OK for the price, but the meatballs were spongy and non-descript. Once you've had the meatball sandwich at By George! in the Reading Terminal Market, it's hard to eat one from a different place.

The sandwiches that didn't fare as well were the ones with mayo - the rolls get soggy quickly, best to eat them there - and the vegetarian who tried the Grilled Veggie Hoagie ($4.99) probably won't be giving up on his local health food store anytime soon.

"It was an array of overcooked produce arrayed inside a warm tube of mooshy dough," he said.

He did, however, add, that the sandwich had enough oil to fill a car with biofuel.

Hey, who goes to a hoagie shop and orders something with broccoli? Caveat emptor, says the Chain Gang.

Slack's has a big menu and friendly service and a local feel. So when you go, just don't eat your veggies. The Chain Gang says it's OK.

The chain truth

Chain: Slack's Hoagie Shack, 2499 Aramingo Ave. (Port Richmond Shopping Center), 215-423-4020. Other nearby locations in Newtown Corners at Newtown Place in Newton, 215-579-3444; Oxford Point Shopping Center in Fairless Hills, 215-949-0200; Hillcrest Shopping Center in Lansdale, 215-368-3144; Grant Plaza II, 1619 Grant Ave. in Philadelphia, 215-673-9888; Cutler Plaza, in Springfield, 610-338-0112; The Marketplace in Huntingdon Valley, 215-942-2005; Regency Square in Willow Grove, 215-659-8917, 1601 Concord Pike in Wilmington; Larchmont Shopping Center in Mt. Laurel, N.J., 856-608-0757; Echo Shoppes in Voorhees, N.J., 856-309-9890; Washington Center Shoppes in Sewell, N.J., 856-582-8660; 1571 Blackwood-Clementon Road in Blackwood, N.J., 856-227-4040 and Ames Plaza, 3100 Quaker Bridge Road in Mercerville.

Reservations: Uh, no.

Parking: Yes, at almost all locations. Otherwise, street parking.

Price: A combination of 15 sandwiches and salads came in at a very reasonable $109.50, a little more than $7 each.

Portions: Reasonable. We ordered half-size hoagies and they're a normal size for most people.

Overall grade: Three links out of four. Sometimes you've got a craving for a hoagie. Slack's will satisfy it. *

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