After 40 hot sandwiches, the best ones were …

The new No. 1 on a radio host's Hot Specialty Sandwich Safari is the roast sandwich at Old Original Nick's Roast Beef, of South Philadelphia and Springfield. This file photo was taken at the Delco shop.
The new No. 1 on a radio host's Hot Specialty Sandwich Safari is the roast sandwich at Old Original Nick's Roast Beef, of South Philadelphia and Springfield. This file photo was taken at the Delco shop. (Peter Mucha)
Posted: July 15, 2010

It's a list to make Philly sandwich lovers drool.

Or is it a half-dozen lists rolled up into one chewer-friendly guide?

WIP midday cohost Glen Macnow has finished his Hot Specialty Sandwich Safari - his sixth annual great-food hunt - and declared the top six that will face a panel of slobbering celebrity judges next Thursday.

The public is invited to attend the event - and try free samples, starting about 11 a.m. - at the Fieldhouse, 11th and Filbert Streets, next to Reading Terminal Market. Judging starts at noon.

The finalists represent six types of hot sandwiches, so each can be considered a recommendation as the area's best in a major category. They beat out everything from sausage to veal scallopini to eggplant Parmesan - but not cheesesteaks and cheeseburgers, which were previously surveyed.

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 pmucha@phillynews.com.

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