An Italian Hoagie with Staying Power

I’ve devoted a disproportionate amount of posts to sandwiches. While most of those have been about cheesesteaks, I’ve also written on corned beef, pastrami, meatball, roast pork and roast beef sandwiches. But with the exception of including a single shot of one I had eaten before starting this blog in a post on local meals from years gone by, I have yet to write about a hoagie – at least as the word is understood in the Philadelphia region.

One could argue that is gross negligence on my part given the prominence of the hoagie – and especially the Italian hoagie – in Philly’s food culture. Its popularity rivals that of the cheesesteak among locals. Yet I’ve run hot and cold on it for most of my life. I didn’t start eating hoagies until I was in my late teens and have gone years at a time without eating any since then. Aside from one extended period of several years during which I ate a lot of them, I have tended to only have one when I get the occasional strong craving. And I’ve been feeling one of those building lately.

What set me off was a new video from Foodie Life Mac, a local food vlogger I follow on Youtube. It was on A Cut Above Deli in Newtown Square, PA, and included footage of him eating and commenting on one of their Italian hoagie variations. That sandwich looked fantastic and I’m only about 20 minutes from Newtown Square, so I decided to answer the call of my craving and drove over there for lunch Wednesday.

Newtown Square, Pennsylvania

A Cut Above is a small takeout sandwich shop in a strip of shops on busy West Chester Pike. There isn’t a lot of noise in there. It felt like I was in a temple of sandwich preparation while I waited for my order.

A Cut Above Deli
I’ve been to a few places with their own soda label. There must be a beverage company around here that handles that. I grabbed a bottle of black cherry to wash my hoagie down.
Some of the high quality Italian meats that go on their hoagies.

They’ve got a nice display of cold salads and Italian delicacies, but I expected my hoagie to be hefty and resisted getting anything else to go with it. 

In addition to a wide array of hoagies, they have a selection of hot sandwiches, some of which may entice me back there in the not-too-distant future. I’m especially interested in the roast pork and meatball sandwiches.

They offer their hoagies in three sizes, with the biggest being appropriate for two people. I would have undoubtedly been satisfied with the small size, but the medium – or “regular” – sized hoagie comes on a seeded roll from Sarcone’s Bakery of South Philadelphia. These are the same rolls I raved about in a couple cheesesteak reviews and ranked among the best in the area for sandwiches. So there was no question as to which size I’d be ordering. I went with a regular Classic Italian hoagie and made no alterations. It comes standard with lettuce, tomato, onions, seasoning and extra-virgin olive oil. 

In my writings on cheesesteaks, I frequently wrote about my preference for sandwiches that are well proportioned as opposed to those that are overstuffed with meat and cheese. I go even further in the direction of preferring less meat when it comes to hoagies. The cured meats and sharp cheeses used in a top-flight Italian hoagie boast extremely powerful flavors and aromas. To me, they are better enjoyed in small quantities than in a thick sandwich with three or four kinds of meat piled high. 

I could see in the video I referred to that they proportion their Italian hoagies just the way I like them at A Cut Above. That’s one of the reasons I went there. The Classic Italian hoagie I ordered features only two kinds of meat – Parma prosciutto and dry-cured capocollo – along with sharp provolone cheese. And it was a thing of beauty.

As I anticipated, the roll was phenomenal. The crust isn’t really hard, but it requires a vigorous chew. And the dough within that crust is airy and light. It was incredibly flavorful for a sandwich roll. The toasted sesame seeds that were on it in abundance didn’t hurt in that regard. 

A Sarcone’s Bakery roll

Also as expected, everything on that great roll was perfectly proportioned; that is to say all of the ingredients were used judiciously. The total package combined for a magnificent combination of great flavor and texture.

I’m not sure when I’ll be eating another Italian hoagie. The memory of this one will unquestionably linger in my mind and on my taste buds for some time to come. When I attend a brilliant live performance of a favorite symphony, I sometimes won’t listen to recordings of that music for a long period afterward, so as to allow the memory of the live performance to stay with me longer. That’s how I feel right now about the hoagie I had at A Cut Above Deli.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

10 thoughts on “An Italian Hoagie with Staying Power

  1. The cold sandwich menu lists only the meats and cheeses for any given item, but yours obviously has LTO as well. Are those added automatically or did you request them?

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    1. I didn’t photograph the entire menu. When I viewed it online, there was a note on top indicating that all of their hoagies come with LTO, salt, pepper, oregano and extra-virgin olive oil unless otherwise indicated. And in fact, I would say it’s understood in the Philly area that hoagies come standard with LTO and that Italian hoagies will include seasoning unless you request otherwise. Although the guy who took my order confirmed all of that with me.

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  2. Always answer the call of your craving.
    IT;s good to get an Italian hoagie report. It’s one of my favorite sandwiches. Admittedly, the list of my favorite sandwiches is long, but Italians are near the top

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    1. They may use different rolls for each of the three sizes. I believe a photo I saw of the small was on a seedless roll. The large could be wider in addition to being twice as long. If that’s the case, they’d be able to fit over twice as much meat, cheese, etc. on there.

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    1. There wasn’t a large amount of meat on it, but the roll was big. I ate half right after getting it and had the rest later for dinner. The extent to which the roll stayed fresh was a testament to how good it was. Most leftover hoagies get damp after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours.

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