The making of the hoagie

January 17, 2013 3:36:28 AM PST
The long Italian sandwich is a beloved part of culinary history up and down the northeastern United States.

In New England, it's called a grinder...which around these parts refers only to a hot sandwich. New York has its heroes.

Norristown prizes the "zep"...short for zeppelin. As you head toward Central Pennsylvania, it might be called an Italian sandwich. But in Philadelphia, it's a hoagie, and its origin here is clouded by the passage of time.

Many believe a Broad Street luncheonette last known as Emil's made the first hoagie.

The Action Cam visited back in 1997. But Emil's closed a short time later and no one's available to ask. What is certain is that today, hoagies are prized...and delicious...all around town.

No one in Tacony claims to have originated the balanced-meal-on-a-roll we love so much. But the Tacony Community Development Corporation knows a good thing when they see it.

TCDC's Alex Balloon recently launched the Tacony Hoagie Trail, highlighting unique neighborhood shops and creating a website where you can learn all about them.

DeNofa's Italian Deli on Torresdale Avenue makes sausage, In fact, they'll custom-make a batch according to your recipe if their standard favorites aren't enough. But the family-owned business is also known in the neighborhood for hoagies.

Owner Angelina DeNofa stresses quality. Beef, pork and turkey are all roasted in-house. And while the deli meats on their Italian hoagie are not house-made, they're painstakingly authentic and top-notch.

You can get regular provolone cheese or the sharp stuff veteran hoagie fans prefer. Not far away, Fink's Hoagies on Princeton Avenue offers standard hoagies. But Dennis Fink also makes what he calls "gourmet" hoagies, adding creative ingredients like asparagus or bacon.

He uses bread from Liscio's in South Jersey...the bakery of choice for a number of hot local chefs. Both stores also do a booming catering business and deliver in the neighborhood.

Then there's Jack's Place on Hegerman Street, which claims to make "the best hoagies in the free world".

We couldn't ask Jack about that because he doesn't grant interviews. But we found his Italian hoagie to contain all the right cold cuts, and the sesame seed roll is a nice touch. Here are the shops:

DeNofa's Italian Deli
6946 Torresdale Avenue
Open Monday-Saturday
Lunchtime delivery available

"The King of Gourmet Hoagies"
4633 Princeton Avenue
Open Wednesday through Saturday and Sundays during football season
Catering is available seven days a week. And delivery is available

Jack's Place
"The Best Hoagies in the Free World"
7167 Hegerman Street, corner of Wellington Street
Open Tuesday through Saturday
Delivery available with $10.00 minimum purchase

The Tacony Hoagie Trail is the brainchild of Alex Balloon of the Tacony Community Development Corporation. You can read more on their special web page. The site even includes tips on accessing the neighborhood via mass transit.