Holy hoagies - I can't believe how long it has been since I wrote a hoagie review. It doesn’t mean I haven't had any. I've had my fill. It just means that I didn’t have one worth writing about. That drought has come to an end, people. Now, let me set the stage…it was May 5th, commonly known as Cinco De Mayo but no, not in Philly. In 1992, mayor Ed Rendell declared the hoagie as the national sammy of Philadelphia and National Hoagie Day was born. Oh, let's celebrate this!
It was also a Phillies game. It was a beautiful night and my husband and I used hotel points to stay at the Marriott in the Navy Yard. Side note, I highly recommend trying this. Park at the hotel, walk to the game with a meal break at The Gatehouse at the Navy Yard in between) - let’s try to keep that our secret though but if you try this, get the hummus at The Gatehouse). As soon as I get close to my birthplace zip code, I want a hoagie. A good one. A memorable one. So I already had a plan to drive passed Ricci's Hoagies on our way home the next day to grab one regardless of the time.
Ricci's Hoagies is often considered Best of Philly in a town with many hoagies. They recently celebrated their 100th anniversary and continue to be family owned and operated with intense focus on creating the best hoagies with quality ingredients. They offer traditional, veggie and cutlet hoagies at 2 locations in Philly.
Ordering, Location and Shop Experience:
It was early Saturday morning. We needed to grab my kids from my parent's house then hustle my son to a baseball game. Their 11th street location was a little off the path but it would be worth it. I didn’t have much time to think or plan so as I drive form the hotel, I called Ricci's to place our order. Their website is simple with a menu link on the main page. It could benefit from more description of each hoagie, specifically the difference between the Italian and Old Fashioned Italian hoagies. I am savvy enough to know that Old Fashioned will include Prosciutto, but I would have liked to know the specific differences in the cheeses, other ingredients, etc. especially since I was driving. I also didn’t notice that you could choose between a seeded or non-seeded roll but I ended up really happy with my choice.
I placed my order over the phone with a very friendly and efficient person. I ordered the traditional Italian hoagie and it would be ready in 20 mins - about the time it would take me to drive from the Navy Yard to their location. Their location is on a corner on the double-wide section of 11th street on the edge of South Philly. This area is car central, but I was able to fit at the end of the corner and run in to make the grab (others were able to double park in the center area of 11th to run in and grab also). The store was clean and organized with someone at the front counter ready to help me. My order was ready and I was able to make a quick purchase and head towards my parent's and then home.
Wait! The car smelled insane. We didn’t have time to eat anything and now I have to drive 35 minutes home before I can even look at it and eat it? It was absolute torture even while it was tucked away in an insulated cooler. There was no way to hold back that hoagie smell from filling my car and my brain. I tried to focus on driving and make good choices to get there quickly while not ruining a great weekend with my hangry-ness.
It's 10 am. Yes, morning and I am eating this hoagie. I will not make it to lunch time and no one has ever said that a hoagie couldn’t be breakfast. I'm normalizing it right here, right now. Try a hoagie for breakfast and get back to me. Maybe if we put a runny egg on top it'll be more widely accepted?
Anyway, I set myself up on the couch with my lap tray (nerd!), hoagie, chips and beverage. I may have watched some tv but I couldn’t pay attention to anything but my lap food. The exterior paper was dry with a little oil drippage on the interior paper but after a 35 minute drive, the hoagie was not soggy or impacted in any way by the drive time. I was happy! The first view was beautiful and had all the signs of greatness - the smell, the bread, and the amount of ingredients visible from outside the bread. How it remained closed after unwrapping, just asking to be eaten. I was excited to have made it home and to this very moment, but it was gone fast but the memories remain.
I ordered the standard roll which was unseeded - but a seeded roll is an option (my usual preference). Regardless, the bread was perfect, a picture of beauty and again, did I mention the amazing smell? Oh, I'm hungry now. Ricci's Hoagies uses Liscio's Bakery rolls which is right at the top with Sarcone's for being the best rolls for hoagies, cheesesteaks or anything! What I found interesting is that the roll seemed a little wider than usual (could have been my hunger playing a "roll") without truly making it bigger, if that is possible. There was a lot of hoagie goodness within the sturdy, soft while crust roll without making it rough or tough to fit in my mouth. Lots of contradicting statements in this paragraph but truly, try one, and see what I mean- magical.
Perfect amount of high quality olive oil and mayo - yes, I continue to love mayo. Do what you prefer. The amount is perfect to me when the bread does not become saturated and no mayo comes squirting out…ewe. Have I mentioned that I hate when food gets on my hands, probably more so than the average person. I also love seeing a solid amount of oregano on top of the hoagie. It looks naked when its placed on the roll instead and somehow effects the taste for me.
Meats & Cheese:
Here is where a hoagie becomes more that just quality bread. I know the bread can make or break a hoagie, but so can the quality, amount and girth of the meats and cheese. The usual suspects made up this Italian hoagie with the high quality meat was tissue thin. The provolone cheese (not sharp), was carefully sliced thin with a substantial staggered layer covering the full length.
HoagieLOVE Tip #2: Ricci's also has an old fashioned Italian hoagie which I learned has prosciutto, sopressata, sharp provolone and roasted peppers in the starring role. what's different? The sharp provolone is crumbled instead of sliced. That’s a sign of really high quality sharp provolone (aka stinky cheese) because the good stuff crumbles and doesn’t slice well. I will be going back very soon for one and will update this review to include the Old Fashioned Italian.
The right amount of shredded lettuce (my favorite), thin sliced tomato and onion. Neatly assembled to not overwhelm but add to the experience and flavor.
I didn’t rearrange anything. It was aerodynamic and with the wider Lisco roll, everything was neatly and methodically placed - oil and mayo then cheese then meats then lettuce, tomato onion and spices. Why mess with perfection?
Easy, maybe too easy. I ate it really fast though but no indigestion (TMI?). That was based on many reasons but mostly the smell delivered wonderfully. Nothing fell out, nothing shifted and nothing squirted out. It was perfection wrapped in a roll.
Next meal survival rate:
Not relevant. Ate it all and so did my family with theirs. Based on how well these traveled from the city to the burbs, I would expect the next meal would have been just as enjoyable.
Overall happiness rating:
I loved this hoagie and will place it on my top list. I "reasonably" try as many hoagies as possible while also balancing a gluten sensitivity. I only visit shops with a reputation or recommendation and write a review when the hoagie knocks my socks off. I don’t live in the city any longer and for me to travel to the city (or other location) then spent time writing about the experience, it needs to exceed expectations and be super memorable. Ricci's Italian hoagie delivered in every bit of criteria creating a sensational experience. Thank you, Ricci's!
1165 S. 11th Street
Philadelphia. PA 19147
2613 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19133
OUT OF TOWN FRIENDS: Goldbelly Nationwide delivery available!