Great Hoagie Hunt judges declare winner

Posted: June 16, 2009

Ike Reese was getting annoyed with Vai Sikahema's reviews. Too long-winded apparently. Too attentive to detail.

On Saturday, the ex-Eagles turned broadcasters were among a half-dozen celebrity judges at the Fox & Hound Pub in King of Prussia, ready to declare the winner of WIP's Great Hoagie Hunt.

A huge crowd was on hand as well, devouring free samples and ready to vote for its favorite, too.

The judges had just sampled Italian hoagies from Paesano's in Northern Liberties - which came into the event as the favorite.

After all, it was ranked No. 1 by WIP host Glen Macnow, whose quest tested nearly 60 sandwiches in about as many days. He also emceed the show's live broadcast.

Sikahema, NBC10's sports director, went on about arugula and the peppers being "a little hot but not so hot that you sweat it out."

"You are embarrassing!" Reese declared.

Sikahema, gave the hoagie 50 out of 50 points.

Reese, weeknight yakker for 'IP (610 AM), gave it a 37, his lowest score among the seven finalists who showed up. Meager on the meat, he said. "Not overwhelmed by the cheese."

No one else agreed with Reese.

"That was by far probably the best hoagie I've ever eaten in my life!" said Matt Levin, former executive chef at Lacroix.

Comcast Sportnet's Leslie Gudel gave it 46 points, Phillies analyst and ex-closer Ricky Botallico 47 ("awesome"), sports commentator and author Ray Didinger 48 ("some real tasty flavors").

Total score: 278 points out of a possible 300.

It was leading with four hoagies left.

Two came very close.

Sarcone's in South Philadelphia, which adds cubes of provolone to its traditional Italian, scored 274 - just 4 points shy. Reese's 42 was lowest. Gudel gave it a 44, not thrilled about the chunks of cheese.

"Rivals Paesano's," proclaimed Sikahema, slapping down another 50.

So Paesano's still led as Carlino's Market of Ardmore stepped up to the plate.

Or put hoagie slices on the plates.

"We have the best stuff on there," said Angelina Carlino, explaining how her shop imports its own olive oil and bakes its own seeded bread.

This was Reese's favorite, earning a 49 from him - a dozen points higher than his Paesano's score.

Sikahema - of the discriminating palate - awarded his third 50.

But Levin thought it was "a little dry" and gave a 43.

Gudel, feeling "stuffed," suggested the sandwich, while good, was overly hefty, and scored it a 41.

Carlino's total: 275 - edging out Sarcone's, but three points short of first place.

Paesano's was the winner.

Interestingly, the top three finishers all use rolls with sesame seeds - a violation of tradition in some hoagie purist's minds.

Amazingly, that's four years straight the judges confirmed Macnow's top pick in his annual face-stuffin' search.

Last year, it was John's Roast Pork for cheesesteaks. The year before, Tacconelli's of Port Richmond won for pizza, and Fat Jack's in Clementon won for ribs in 2006.

As for the crowd's favorite, after 536 votes were counted, the "Listeners' Choice" award went to Primo Hoagies, which has dozens of shops throughout the area.

Here are the judges' final rankings, with point totals:

1. Paesano's, 278 points. (No. 1 with Macnow.)

2. Carlino's Market, Ardmore, 275. (Macnow's No. 6)

3. Sarcone's Deli, South Philadelphia, 274. (Macnow's No. 2.)

4. Pastaficio, South Philadelphia, 255. (Macnow's No. 4)

5. Primo Hoagies, Ritner Street in South Philadelphia (and other locations), 253. (Macnow's No. 8.)

6. Pallante's, Richboro, 248. (Macnow's No. 7.)

7. Shank's & Evelyn's, reopening in Center City this summer, 209. (Macnow's No. 5.)

No show: Salumeria, Reading Terminal. (Macnow's No. 3.)

Also no shows, but excused, were Macnow's weekday cohost Anthony Gargano, off to a wedding in Mexico, and former Temple basketball coach John Chaney, who was didn't feel well enough to be a judge.

To see Macnow's ranking of 51 hoagies, go to www.610wip.com. (Some he tried weren't worth writing up.)

Next year, Macnow might do meatball sandwiches. Or roast pork. Or start his five-year cycle over again, and return to burgers (won by Rossi's Bar and Grill in Trenton before the celebrity judge-offs started), followed by ribs, pizza, cheesesteaks and Italian hoagies again.


Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|