After trying more than 40 sandwiches, Macnow ranked these best:
1. Roast Beef on the Outs, Old Original Nick's Roast Beef, 2149 S. 20th Street, South Philadelphia. "Heaven on a bun. . . . one of Philadelphia's great gastronomic treasures." Score: 97 points out of 100.
2. The Schmitter, McNally's Tavern, 8634 Germantown Ave., Chestnut Hill. "Three layers of cheese intermingled with fresh-sliced roast beef, grilled onions, Russian dressing, Jersey tomatoes and - ah, yes - fried Hatfield salami." Score: 94.
3. Chicken Italiano, Shank's Pier 40, 901 S. Columbus Blvd., Pier 40, South Philadelphia. "This may be the greatest chicken sandwich we've ever eaten." Score: 92.
4. Hot pastrami on rye, Hershel's East Side Deli, Reading Terminal Market. "The moistest, tastiest meat you'll ever have this side of the east side of Manhattan." Score: 90.
5. Hot roast pork, Carlino's Specialty Foods, 2616 E. County Line Road, Ardmore. "Lots of provolone (too many places skimp on the cheese), strong greens and hots strong enough to make your head sweat." (John's Roast Pork of South Philadelphia finished at No. 7.) Score: 88.
6. Meatball sandwich, Pastaficio Homemade Pasta Co., Packer Park Shopping Center, South Philadelphia. "Without a doubt, the best meatball sandwich in the city." Score: 87.
This food quest was the toughest yet, Macnow said.
"I understand that comparing roast pork and pastrami is like comparing apples and oranges. On the other hand, I think I can tell a good apple from a bad orange," he said.
Biggest surprise? "With all of the terrific roast pork sandwiches around here - and I sampled about 10 - I was stunned that the best I found came from a small suburban place like Carlino's in Ardmore."
Past winners of Macnow food hunts were Rossi's Bar & Grill in Trenton for burgers, Fat Jack's in Clementon for ribs, Tacconelli's in Port Richmond for pizza, John's Roast Pork in South Philly for cheesesteaks, and Paesano's in Northern Liberties for Italian hoagies.
Every year, the judges have hotly debated their views but ultimately agreed with Macnow's conclusions.
For Macnow's full list of short "Sandwich Safari" reviews, go to: http://go.philly.com/sandwichsafari.
Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or firstname.lastname@example.org.