Only because my favorite Deli (Rachel's Nosherai) is now closed on Sunday due to a death in the family, and because my favorite cousins suggested it, we four had brunch today at the 19th street branch of the 4th Street Famous Deli. This is the perfect number of people to share a meal at the Famous, since its owner is busy charging exorbitant prices for enormous portions of mediocre food, that are edible only by a family of four. When we entered this establishment, we saw a bemused couple seated in front of a mound of corn beef hash the size of a small infant, about twelve inches long and four inches high.. We commented to them that it was enough to feed a family of four but they disagreed and showed us that it was more than enough for a family of eight. My wife and I agreed to share a single smoked fish sandwich, by ordering an extra portion of pumpernickel. I ordered my favorite, jumbo whitefish on rye with cream cheese tomato and onion. My cousin remarked, only half in jest" Remember to ask them to remove the tail". What came to the table was a fresh four inch slice of jumbo white fish, freshly cut of the fish both sides, untouched by human hands. Having worked in a number of Delis I proceeded to filet the fish myself , carefully cutting along the backbone inside and then removing the spine and ribs on one side and picking out the spineless ribs on the other and then pulling the skin away from the two fresh moist filets. The rye and pumpernickel was sliced much too thick for our tastes. About a half inch thick. I then smeared the cream cheese on the bread, added the fish and the tomato and onion, sliced the two sandwiches in half and presented one on my wife's plate. The resulting sandwiches I had created were delightful, made from wholesome ingredients. But I wondered why I was paying the Deli for making my own sandwiches.
After living on the Main Line for about 12 years I have as yet found only one place to get a truely great Hoagie: Lovecchio's Pizza Shop in Bryn Mawr, Just Behind Bryn Mawr Hospital off Haverford Rd. I first encountered the Hoagie in Atlantic City at the age of 7 when my beloved late Uncle Jack bought me my first one cleverly disguised as a submarine sandwich. Even though the whole family worked in my Granfather Izzy's delicatessen in Strawberry Mansion, and I could have any sandwich I wanted anytime of the day, that first Hoqgie was a revelation. The combination of olive oil, cheese, spices meats and and vegetables was an instant sensory delight. I remember the antipastos at a large Italian restaurant on Atlantic Avenue, with its delicious Genoa Salami. This was the same sensation on a roll. For the first time in my life I actually enjoyed the taste of cheese. The mild, slightly sweet provolone of the sandwich was the first time that cheese didn't taste to me like sour milk. Forever after, that first Hoagie, from the Atlantic Avenue Submarine Sandwich shop was the Gold Standard by which I measured all future Hoagies. I had, much to my disappointment tried the Hoagies from a number of other shops. Primos, had much too much meat. They were nice enough about it. When I returned several months later and complained that eating their Hoagie was like eating a slab of boiled ham, they politely told me that I could just ask for half the meat and twice the vegetables. I did this a few weeks later but there was still to much meat and not enough lettuce, tomato and onion. At Dakota Pizza, the meat was sliced so thick, (probably by a worker trying to get his chores done quickly) that it tasted weird. Real Pizza in Narbeth came very close. But its Hoagie was so jam packed that it was served open face and you could barely close it and the roll was a bit soggy from the oil. Lovecchio's to my mind is the only place, out here, that has this simple but elegant treat, an antipasto of a roll, done just right. They remind me of my two favorite greek sayings: All things in moderation Whatever is done rightly, however humble, is noble. At Lovecchio's the humble Hoagie is done exactly right. Nothing is out of balance. No one part has been supersized at the expense of another. The roll is fresh and crusty. There are three italian meats, but only a single layer of each. They are in balance with the lettuce, onion and tomatoes, which blend their scents with the cheese and oil. It is the Hoagie done right, with taste and balance. At other venues that have disappointed over the years, I feel like yelling out what Casey Stengle shouted during one memorable game, when his poor Mets hit into a triple play: "Does anyone here know how to play this game?" Also at Lovecchio's the french fries are Steak fries, wide thin slices of potato lightly fried and very potatoey. What can I say. It takes a tough Italian to make a great Hoagie.
First and foremost, Sandwiches that nobody else has. Food truck, great sandwich. George's at 23rd and Chestnut, Lunch 11 to 2 Pm though he strarts serving breakfast a 6 AM. You've got to try the grilled marinated chicken breast, with or without his special gyro sauce. With Lettuce and tomato, simply superb. Also two unique sandwiches only to be found at McNally's tavern at the top of Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill. The GBS (after vegetarian GB Shaw). It's a double decker grilled chees sandwich with Russian dressing and grilled onions tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms. FANTASTIC A vegetarian sandwich that tastes as rich and satisfying as a cheese steak. Also the Schmitter, a cheese steak on a bun with cooked salai, and onions and Russian dressing. Forget Dinic. Try Nick's roast beef at 18th and Jackson. Best roast beef sandwich in the state.
You can't beat a south Philly place on SouthBroad Street that is still my favorite Try Criniti's on Broad street a bock North of Oregon Avenue. Dishes cooked with the freshest ingrediants. All the veal dishes are great. Especially a dish called Veal Criniti, not on the menu but served up at you request. A version of Veal Scallopini cooked in a lovely red sauce with every vegetable you can think of including olives, All the portions of the specials are especially ample. Try it you'll love it. That's real Italian. Great service, friendly staff and an adequate wine list. AND moderately priced Entrees are $15 to 20. Tell them Marc sent you. And around the corner is POP's water ice which of late is almost as good as 20 years ago before Pop's kids decided to franchise and screwed up his original recipes. Pop's makes a great desert treat that can't be beat, finally. Get the lemon or pineapple.
Over labor day weekend, my wife was out of town visiting a friend from high school, up in the Castskills for a weekend of " girl talk", Saturday night feeling sullen and though it was after ten I decided to try the one real steakhouse in the area. I was prepared for mediocre and brought my copy of Barron's and the WSJ to keep me company. I hadn't heard a thing about this eatery on City Avenue in any of the local Main Line press. HOWEVER, the meal was great, the equal of any I had at the Palm or Mortons. The house salad was very good. The waiter told me they were out of the large and small filet. I asked whether I should order the porterhouse, eat the filet and take the strip steak home. I decided to order the strip steak rare with a side of brioiled mushrooms. BEWARE: The portions of the ala carte side dishes are enough for a party of four. I also asked if the chef could broil the mushrooms in a little red wine to pump up the taste the way my wife does. Not a problem, my waiter replied. The mushrooms came back tasting as as good as my wife's . And the large 16 oz NY strip steak: simply marvelous. As tender as the best filet and as flavorful and juicy. The dress is basically business casual. I got a comfortable booth, well lit when I mentioned I needed enough light to read by. Great service, great food, moderate prices, and a comfortable setting, close by AND open late. What more could a main line foodie want. Can't wait to go back.
First of all there are a few decent places to eat in Glenside or nearby. First one worthy of considerration is Michaels Diner on Easton Rd opposite Beaver College( I refuse to be politically correct and call it Arcadia). Pretty good salad bar and decent menu. OK sandwiches and the entres are pretty good as well. I've never had a bad meal there. My favorite in Glenside however is Rocy's Deli and Restaurant, on Glenside Avenue, just off of Easton Rode across from Rizzo's. The Hoagie is to my lights perfect. Just the right balance of vegetables, meats and Cheeses. Soups are homemade and usually quite good. All the sandwiches are great. For a treat try the Monte Cristo or any of the Steak Sandwiches of Cicken Steaks. And the Milkshakes are really fine.