Grubbin’ with the Boys: Hoagie Edition

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Grubbin’ with the Boys: Hoagie Edition

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Noah Conen

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As I sat at my desk this summer jamming to Dreamville, I was thinking about many things. From pondering about how I looked like a walnut for the first 14 years of my life, to how in the hell a 135 pound kid will play lineman (I don’t play often, admittedly), to the most burning question of them all: what will the first edition of “Grubbin’ with the Boys” be about this school year. Well, funnily enough, my older brother Jesse, who, by the way, is in all AP classes I’m pretty sure, ( I don’t know, I couldn’t be bothered to ask) was requesting that “Grubbin’ with the Boys” feature him and his friends. As I expected, Mr. Nerdy-Pants can’t schedule for his life, so I had to push off “Grubbin’ with the Boys: Hoagie Edition” till September of this year, when I wanted to do it in May of last year. And oh boy was it a real eye opener. Here you go fine readers of the Radnorite, dig in.

 

To all of you uneducated Radnor students (pun intended) an Italian Hoagie consists of Italian lunch meat such as salami, capicola, and mortadella, paired with provolone cheese, fresh vegetables, olive oil and vinegar, all sandwiched between a fresh hoagie roll. When we called in the orders Jesse and I said yes to whatever toppings or additions they asked if we wanted on the sandwich. For example, if a place asked if we wanted lettuce on it, we’d say yes, allowing the restaurants some creative freedom to differentiate their sandwich from the lot. Unless it was something that wasn’t supposed to be on an Italian sandwich, like, I don’t know, jam or something. Next, Jesse and I drove around Delaware County to six locations; Boccella’s, A Cut Above Deli, Primo Hoagies, John’s Village Market, Tredici, and Antonella’s Italian Kitchen, picked up the goods, and sped back to our house to see which hoagie reigned supreme.

 

The Judges:

 

“Grubbin’ with the Boys” author and backup JV football Right Guard Noah Conen

 

The world’s largest toothpick Jesse Conen

 

Greek person who for some reason likes Italian hoagies Peter Vitale

 

Tennis phenom and Hoagie advocate Ryan Klein

 

Son of Family Feud star, John Serlenga

 

Professional hoagie describer Dean Aljian

 

Grading System:

We graded the hoagies based off 4 factors on a 1 to 5 scale: 

 

  • Meat 
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Toppings

 

We then added those scores together to get our sandwich score out of 20

 

Finally, we scored them out of 10 just based on how we felt they tasted as a whole overall. 

 

Hoagie #1: John’s Village Market- 1 Pennsylvania Ave, Wayne, PA 19087

(610) 688-2633- www.johnsvillagemarket.com

John’s Village Market has been in business for 41 years, just off North Wayne Avenue. A little hole in the wall market, serving up old school sandwiches? This ought to be good. This unassuming store doesn’t disappoint with its hoagies, while also showing modern day eaters a taste of the past. The lowest score for the meat was a 4.5/5. The saltiness of the cold cuts really was the star of the sandwich, as it should be. Ryan and John pointed out the good meat to cheese ratio, and also how stable the sandwich was when you bit into it. Personally, I thought the bread could have been a bit fresher, and the toppings more oily and vinegary. The veggies were crisp and the cheese was sharp enough, but didn’t overpower the sandwich. Peter thought the the top bite was better than the bottom bite, a common problem in hoagies, so we’ll give the folks at John’s the benefit of the doubt and blame the bite spacing on the fact that it’s a hoagie. All in all, a very solid sandwich, and a strong start to the taste test. 

 

 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 5 4 3.5 3 15.5 8
Jesse 4.5 4.5 3 2.5 14.5 8
John 5 3 4 4 16 8
Ryan 4.5 4 3.5 4 16 8.5
Peter 5 4.5 5 3 17.5 8
Dean 4.5 4 3.5 4 16 8

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 15.9

Avg. Overall Score: 8.1

 

Hoagie #2: Primo Hoagies- 362 West Lancaster Ave, Ste 2, Wayne, PA 19087

(610)688-0101- https://www.primohoagies.com/

Primo is a beloved local chain with high quality hoagies and famous hoagie rolls. What surprised literally no one was that the bread stole the show that was this sandwich. It is a crusty sesame seed loaf that can withstand the moisture of the produce thrown at it while remaining crunchy and delicious. Even with bread this good, it definitely had its flaws. Most glaring of all, there was no cheese on the hoagie. Maybe it was there and just overpowered by other flavors, but I could not find the cheese on this sandwich. The meat is very peppery and didn’t really have any other flavor, and the toppings were limited to some tomato and onion. To top it all off, there was really no vinegar or oil to be tasted. The lesson that this hoagie teaches us is that even with lackluster fillings, solid bread can carry a sandwich to greatness. 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 3.5 1 5 3 12.5 8
Jesse 4 1.5 5 2.5 13 6.5
John 4.5 2.5 5 3 14.5 7.25
Ryan 4 3 5 3.5 15.5 7.75
Peter 4 3.5 4.5 3 15 7
Dean 4 3 5 3.5 15.5 7

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 14.3

Avg. Overall Score: 7.25

 

Hoagie #3: A Cut Above Deli- 3523 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, PA 19073 

(610) 353-4543- www.acutabovedeli.com

Before I wrote this review, A Cut Above was the place that everyone told me to go to. The consensus: not a bad hoagie, but was it really worth the hype? One thing I should mention is that the deli itself is the most old school deli I’ve ever seen. It makes John’s Village Market look like its about to sport a new line of Impossible sandwiches. Meats are hanging and aging, waiting to be sliced; it smells like fine nutty cheeses and curing meats.Two old Italian dudes walked in while I was picking up my sandwich, and I could have sworn one of them was Luca Brasi. About the sandwich, it was only alright. For a place that displays their meat on the counter like it’s fine art, the meat was kind of a hit or miss for us. While we did like its thin slices, as Jesse pointed out, it didn’t really impact the sandwich. I thought the bread was only ok, and most of the reviewers had mixed feelings about the bread as well. The cheese was, however, overpowered by the best part of this sandwich, the toppings. The only one who didn’t give the toppings a 5 was Peter, who still gave it a great 4.5. Dean’s favorite part was the tomato, I liked the freshness in general, and the rest of the reviewers commented on the great seasoning of the hoagie. Don’t let our letdown fool you though, you’ve got to check this place out for yourselves. 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 3 1 2 5 11 7
Jesse 2.5 1.5 3 5 12 6
John 4.5 2 2.5 5 14 7
Ryan 3 3.5 4 5 15.5 7
Peter 3.5 3 3.5 4.5 14.5 6
Dean 3.5 3 3 5 14 6.5

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 13.5

Avg. Overall Score: 6.6

 

Hoagie #4: Boccella’s Deli- 37 W Eagle Rd, Havertown, PA 19083 

(610) 789-2228- No Website

Boccella’s is almost bodega-esque, it has groceries, hot and cold sandwiches, alcohol etc. and has been feeding Havertown for quite some time. It’s a shame that this was unanimously the worst hoagie according to my panel of judges. I was impressed by the architecture of the sandwich, which Peter pointed out, but that was about it. The meat was strangely sweet and slimy as all of us noticed, but some reviewers like Jesse and Ryan appreciated that foreign flavor profile for the hoagie. Nobody could taste the cheese except for John who gave it a 4 for some reason. The bread was not textured enough, and John once more went to the extremes, labeling it filth. Ryan and John both thought that the onions overpowered everything, and everyone else thought that it was just bland in general. Maybe it was just not very good, or maybe it was that we had three much better hoagies earlier, I don’t know, but this was not a very good sub. 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 1 1 2.5 1 5.5 5
Jesse 4 2 2 4.5 12.5 5.5
John 2.5 4 2 3 11.5 5.75
Ryan 4 2.5 3 2 11.5 5.5
Peter 2 3 3 3 11 5
Dean 3.5 3.5 2.5 3.5 13 6.5

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 10.8

Avg. Overall Score: 5.5

 

Hoagie #5: Tredici Italian Market- 185 Lancaster Ave, Wayne, PA 19087

(610) 254-0323- http://www.trediciitalianmarket.com/

Being the kind, likeable kid that I am, I have made quite a few acquaintances with upperclassmen on the football team this year. However, the one thing they do that just bothers  me is bombard me with one question like it’s the London Blitz. The question: when is the Tredici review going to come out? My answer: right now. Now, I know that it’s not great to assume things, but based off virtually every senior on the football team asking me when this is going to come out, I assumed that Tredici would go steamroll the competition like they’re the New England Patriots. But, unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case. Now, I’ve heard that the other items on Tredici’s menu are extremely tasty, but this is a food review on Italian hoagies, and I’m here to say that Tredici needs to work on theirs. The big problem was with the toppings. I know that the rules were to say yes to whatever they asked if we wanted on the sandwich, but that’s unfair because Tredici was the only place that threw hot peppers onto their sandwich, and oh my god were they hot. They were like Chernobyl, the Tsar Bomba, and Kate Upton combined and thrown into the core of a volcano hot. So yes, I know, maybe the hoagie would be better without the peppers, but rules are rules, and the enforcement of those rules is vital to the success of “Grubbin’ with the Boys.” Due to the nuclear meltdown going on within the roll, I couldn’t really taste anything else on the sandwich. Jesse and Ryan enjoyed the spice, while others turned into crybabies. The two things I noticed were that instead of white onions there were red onions, and that there was pepperoni in the sandwich too. Other than that, the general consensus is that the bread was soggy, and no one could fully decipher what the meat and cheese tasted like. 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 2 2 3 2.5 9.5 6
Jesse 3 4.5 3 4 14.5 7.5
John 4 4 2 2 12 6
Ryan 4 4 3.5 4 15.5 7
Peter 2 3 4 1 10 5
Dean 3.5 3 3 1 10.5 5

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 12

Avg. Overall Score: 6.1

 

Hoagie #6: Antonella’s Italian Market- 841 Conestoga Rd, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

(610) 526-1966- www.antonellasitaliankitchen.com

By the time of our final hoagie, I was bored of hoagies, but the previous fireball left my mouth craving redemption. Then I saw the big kahuna that was Antonella’s Italian sub. It was taller than Manute Bol, fatter than me in 6th grade, and had toppings spewing out of it like it was the Exxon Valdez oil spill. And oh man was it good. While maybe too big to fit in your mouth, it kind of had the size doesn’t matter effect in its favor. The oil and vinegar were the most prevalent flavor, followed by the heaps of oily lettuce spilling out both ends. In one of my better analogies, I compared the greasiness to Danny Zuko, and other reviewers were fond of the topping overflow as well. The meat and cheese were both present and strong flavor contributors, while the bread was about as average as you can get. After this gut busting hoagie, I felt like I was about to have a xenomorph burst out of my chest, and I realized that I now had to turn around and write this article on my painfully slow surface gos. I guess not every great story can have a good ending. 

 

 

 

 

 

Name Meat:  Cheese:  Bread:  Toppings:  Sandwich Score:  Overall Score: 
Noah 4 3 3 5 15 8
Jesse 4.5 4.5 3 3 15 8.5
John 5 4 2 3 14 7
Ryan 5 4 4 3.5 16.5 8
Peter 5 3 3 3 14 6
Dean 4 3.5 3.5 3 14 7

 

Avg. Sandwich Score: 14.75

Avg. Overall Score: 7.1

 

Sandwich Score Result: 

1st- John’s Village Market- 15.9

2nd- Antonella’s: 14.75

3rd- Primo Hoagies: 14.3

4th- A Cut Above: 13.5

5th- Tredici: 12

6th- Boccellas: 10.8

 

Overall Result:

1st- John’s Village Market: 8.1

2nd- Primo Hoagies: 7.25

3rd- Antonella’s: 7.1

4th- A Cut Above: 6.6

5th- Tredici: 6.1

6th- Boccellas: 5.5

 

The winner is John’s! The great ratio of toppings, no one aspect of the hoagie overpowering another and overall quality of the meat was enough to separate it from the pack. My personal favorite however was Primo, but only because of that delicious bread. With that being said, I’ll see you all next time, and don’t forget, to keep grubbin’. 

 

For the next edition of Grubbin’ with the Boys, or girls I should say, I will be taking some sophomore girls to test out Minella’s Diner. After that, Grubbin with the Boys: Football Edition will judge a secret food to see which one is the best.