I went home from the shore for a few days last month. I was able to spend an awesome night in Ardmore with my high school friends then found a few hours to myself on Friday morning which is super rare between my day job and two kids. I could have slept in. I could have hit the bar early for Bloody Mary's. No, I decided to go to The Reading Terminal Market and look at food, smell food, eat food and buy food while I waited patiently for my bucket list hoagie place to open at 11 a.m.
10:00 am - parked and grabbed my reusable grocery bag.
There are so few places that provide the same experience as Reading Terminal Market. If you are not familiar, Reading Terminal Market is one of the oldest public market in Philadelphia (12th and Arch), originating in 1893. If you're hungry or looking for something to cook, you will find it and more at the market. I don’t know about you, but I discover something new every time I go. This time, I needed produce, and got all that I needed and then some at Iovine Brothers Produce Market. If it’s a fruit, vegetable, nut or legume - they will have it. I was able to grab fresh figs, lycée fruit, fresh pressed juice and even non-dairy mozzarella*. Yes, I am actually trying gluten free and dairy free in my daily life, and I realize it’s a direct conflict with my hoagie addition. All good things in moderation, as I suffer in silence.
*As a side note, if you are looking for dairy-free cheese that actually tastes like cheese, I would recommend The Conscious Cultures brand that makes cave-ripened cashew cheese. Ask me how they make cheese from cashews, and I will drop my perfected, "What you talkin' bout, Willis?" because I eat cheese, I do not make it.
10:15 am - became attracted to raw chicken as I strolled the market.
I stopped at Guinta's to pick up some wings that I could cook later in the air fryer. Air fried wings are a new favorite for me. It's wings…but healthy!
10:35 am - noticed the time and began to hustle.
I hadn't eaten breakfast yet and I was hungry from looking at all the goodness at the market. I quickly stopped at Kamal's Middle Eastern to grab a Strawberry Honeydew Banana smoothie yum! Kamal's is a staple for me. They have incredible smoothies but are known for their middle eastern fare including shawarma, falafel, gyros and salads. Their hummus….oh, its glorious. Add it to your list of places to try.
HoagieLOVE Pro Tip #1: Be sure to park in one of the two parking lots that provide discount parking for Reading Terminal Market. One is at 11th and Arch (Hilton Garage - $4), the other at 12th and Filbert (Parkway - $5). As you check out at any of the market vendors just ask them to validate your parking ticket. Easy peasy.
10:45 am - stepped into my car and thought about hoagies.
To be fair, Angelo's Pizzeria South Philly is well known for their pizza and cheesesteaks but they also make some of the best hoagies around. Why? Oh so many reasons, but to top the list is that they bake their own bread and use high quality ingredients. It's so obvious that they treat their food creations as small, tasty works of art. There's probably not much I can say about this little corner(ish) pizza shop that hasn't been said before, but I will write it anyway in hopes that someone makes the drive over to Angelo's who kills their craft every day. This has been a long time coming for me. I tried on a Monday the first time but they are not open on Mondays. Then, they had a very unfortunate kitchen fire over the holidays. Glad to hear that everyone was well, and that they were able to get back on their feet again. Attempt number three was going to be a success.
10:50 am - pulled up Angelo's menu on my phone and prepared my order.
The menu is full of all your Philly favorites - pizza, cheesesteaks and hoagies. Literally, you haven't seen incredible Philly fair until you look at their food photos on Instagram. If I wasn't about to drive two hours to the Jersey shore, I would have ordered a pizza and cheesesteak too, but I didn't think I would get the full experience after having them sit for that long.
The menu has its standards, including Italian hoagie variations and others with interesting names like the Drunken Cutlet, the Strapper (look it up in my Friggin' Dictionary) the Communion sandwich, and others. I made my list and left one slot open for Angelo's to make a recommendation for me. Their menu varies depending on availability, but you can get a full view on their Yelp page.
10:58 am, 10:59 am, 11:00 am, 11:01 am - called and called to be the first customer of the day!
Angelo's is no frills when it comes to obtaining their food. Phone orders only, cash only and take out only. It's clearly mentioned on the top of their website which adds to the mystique. I wanted to be the first order in when they opened. I called a few times, and it was glorious when they answered. They were super friendly, and helpful while I placed my order, and recommended the Drunken Cutlet as a fan favorite. I also ordered the Italian hoagie, the Pops and the Tiny. That meant we’d have two chicken cutlet hoagies and two variations of Italian. They kindly reminded me that they were cash only and they asked for 30 minutes to prepare. Perfect! Time to drive over, park, grab cash and take in the sights of a much missed area of Philly from my childhood.
HoagieLOVE Pro Tip #2: Be patient and be glad that they need 30 minutes to prepare your order. If you are not local to the shop, you will need to find parking. Angelo's is close to the Italian Market and lots of other businesses. The area is packed, in true South Philly style, so allow yourself the time to find parking. I am sure you could park on the corner with flashers, and jump in, but don’t expect to be the only person to have that idea.
11:12 am - parked and walked around the 'hood.
Before I can get to the rest of the review, I want to share how I spent my extra time. First, I walked to a cash machine (I still call it a MAC machine, anyone else? Don’t know what a
MAC machine is? You're either too young, or not from the Philly area). Then, I walked around the 9th and Catherine area where I took a few pictures. I even took a picture of my closest friends' old apartment across from the Rite Aid. Lightbulb! I bet they would have an inexpensive cooler I could use to transport my precious hoagies…and maybe even ice! Bingo! I scored an Igloo shoulder bag cooler for 50% off, a bag of ice and some nail polish (irrelevant). I then walked past Ralph's, an Italian restaurant with many family dinner memories. Then, I smelled something amazing - bread! Sarcone's Bakery, home of the absolute best bread in the universe, is on the walk to Angelo's. I think, and don’t quote me, but I think Angelo's learned some of their bread techniques directly from Sarcone's which only adds to the wonderfulness.
11:28 am - noticed all the other folks with pizza boxes or waiting outside for their food. Noticed all the cars double parked to grab their orders. Felt relief that I parked around the corner and walked on a beautiful day.
11:30 am - walked into Angelo's.
Experienced that same glorious feeling from smelling the Sarcone's bread just a few steps away. The smell was amazing, especially mingled with lots of cheesy goodness. I was greeted by the friendly staff who complimented me on my cooler bag preparedness. Now feeling even happier about my purchase, we talked for a few minutes about the shore. I paid and packed my hoagies and made my way to the car. I was planning to wait to eat until I got to the shore, especially since I had friends meeting me there but I didn’t make it passed that parking spot. I did it. It wasn't pretty or elegant, but I tried the Pops right there in the driver's seat.
FYI: I will do my best to provide a review of all four hoagies but will focus on The Pops, an old world style Italian Hoagie. You can find more on the other hoagies towards the bottom of this post.
11:36 am - took my first bite. Ate my first half. Anticipated the others.
Each hoagie was wrapped super tight and was clearly marked with the hoagie name. I knew where I wanted to start. My first unwrapping was The Pops in the driver's seat. This was not an accident. I could not wait two hours to experience it with its next level mixture of sharp provolone, prosciutto, soppressata, capicola and mortadella.
The paper was dry and I was enticed to move to the next step. It was neatly packed and easy to handle as car food. I was worried that there would be oil all over the wrapper, but there wasn't.
HoagieLOVE Pro Tip #2: Not sure what some of these ingredients are?
The bread was baked on-site and was still warm, while being crusty and seeded. It is honestly the main attraction in this adventure. It was substantial and made it possible to eat it while sitting in the car.
Perfect amount of mayo and oil. It also had salt, pepper and oregano that complimented all of the flavors within. There was no slippage or landslide from mayo and oil. I did not request peppers and pickles, as I knew that would cause the hoagies to get a little mushy during the car ride, and messy while eating in the car.
Meats & Cheese:
The meats and cheeses were cut paper thin, and were balanced out perfectly to create a superb Italian hoagie. The Pops stands out for its high-quality, superior meats and cheeses. You could easily choose a hoagie with provolone, but I promise you, it’s a million times better with sharp provolone. It enhances the flavor in so many ways. Then add in prosciutto, with its unique buttery quality (when its fresh). Finish off with mortadella, which is a rarer cured meat that adds a bologna-like taste and texture, but I promise, its upscale bologna, people.
Wait, there were veggies? Shredded lettuce with super thin cut tomato and onion topped this creation, taking up whatever space was left.
None needed. I just started eating.
Note: I did do a little rearranging for the cutlet hoagies, as they were jammed packed and a little big too fit in my mouth.
Heaven. Pure heaven. Once I started eating The Pops, I started to get worried that the others wouldn’t survive the ride. I was worried I wouldn’t get to taste them at the peak of their perfection. But then I remembered how crusty the bread was, and how the person at the shop ensured me that they would only get better while sitting in the cooler for the ride. I didn’t lose any of the ingredients in the car and did not end up with oil or mayo splattered on my legs. Life was good. I think I lost one piece of lettuce - totally trivial!
Next meal survival rate:
Oh they survived alright. They survived the ride, and I ate the remaining Drunken Cutlet the next day. Yes, the bread did get a little soggy from the sauce, but we made it work and ate it open-faced.
Overall happiness rating:
Everything about my day brought a smile to my face. Getting to hit the Reading Terminal Market. Getting to walk around my extended hood. Getting to try my bucket list hoagie. All I want is to go back. Is that sad? I need to try the cheesesteak.
2:30 pm - the rest.
Now, let me dig into the other three hoagies which I shared with my family and friends on the beach for a late lunch.
The Italian - Classic favor for the traditional Italian hoagie lover. However, it still isn't your average hoagie. It included salami, capicola, ham and provolone, yes. But it also has cotechino, which was one of my grandmom's favorites. It's a cured meat that also includes pork rind.
Small note: My daughter had a hard time eating this one as the bread was especially crusty and cut the roof of her mouth. I may ask for a less crusty roll the next time I order for her.
Before I go any further, I need to mention the quality of the chicken cutlets in the next two hoagies. They were cut super thin, pounded out and fried to perfection.
I've been making cutlets my whole adult life and they never achieve excellence. There is a major skill in making the right breading blend (lots of Italian seasoning and Locatelli cheese) and having the right amount of oil to fry with (I usually skimp because I hate the splatter). Homemade cutlets are a favorite beach food for me, and these were amazing!
The Tiny Sandwich - Chicken cutlet, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers, shaved provolone, EVOO and basil pesto (WHAT!) It was finer than any chicken dish you can order at a great Italian restaurant. I loved the pesto, and the larger slices of mozzarella.
The Drunk Cutlet Sandwich - Recommended by the restaurant and not something I would ordinarily order. I am not a chicken parmesan fan, and when I heard "vodka blush sauce", I kinda wasn't sure. Angelo's did not lie…it was fantastic. I loved the spinach, the sauce, ricotta cheese (which is life!) and shaved parm on a cutlet. I need to go back and get another one. It was heaven on that crusty roll!
Warning: You may droll while viewing the next few photos.
Thank you, Angelo's, for an awesome experience and apologies for taking so long to write about it!
736 S. 9th Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19147
Phone: (215) 922-0000