Where To Find The Best Roast Pork Sandwiches In Philadelphia
A guide to one of Philly’s vastly underrated signature sandwiches
Philadelphia knows great sandwiches. We love them. We eat them. It’s what we do.
From the world-famous cheesesteak to its less famous (but equally delicious) brother, the hoagie, the City of Brotherly Love is a sandwich lover’s dream. But there’s another Philly sandwich that deserves just as much praise and attention: the roast pork sandwich.
Born from Italian-American cookery, a classic roast pork sandwich typically contains tender, slow-roasted pork, usually shaved or chopped, layered with melting sharp provolone cheese and garlicky sautéed broccoli rabe or spinach. All of this is assembled on a long Italian roll that comes either seeded or unseeded.
Here’s where to find the best in town.
One of the most essential things to eat at Reading Terminal Market , the roast pork sandwich from DiNic’s Roast Pork was voted “Best Sandwich in America” by the Travel Channel. The fourth-generation shop builds its sandwich with thinly sliced, juicy roast pork, lining the long roll with sliced sharp provolone and topping it with bright green chopped broccoli rabe. For added spice, opt for grilled long hots — long green chili peppers — as well. The spot’s popularity can mean lengthy lines, but it’s well worth the wait.
Where: DiNic's, 51 N. 12th Street
It’s easy to miss John’s Roast Pork. The little stand with its four-table outdoor seating area sits on a triangle intersection in South Philadelphia amidst big box stores, but the marquee of a smiling cartoon pig identifies this hidden gem. The eatery also serves cheesesteaks, but it was the roast pork that put John’s on the map in 1930. A fluffy, sesame seed-crusted bun wraps around juicy pork (watch the cook ladle some of the roasting juices over the meat as he builds the sandwich) with either sharp or mild provolone. Want a vegetable? There’s no broccoli rabe at John’s; they add deep green spinach instead.
A Philadelphia institution with numerous locations in the region, Tony Luke’s offers both great cheesesteaks and outstanding pork sandwiches. The original location is a casual red-and-white checkered spot with indoor picnic table seating at Front Street and Oregon Avenue, just under the overpass for I-95. The menu includes four roast pork sandwiches from which to choose: plain, cheese, either spinach or broccoli rabe, and the Italian, which includes both cheese and greens.
A new interpretation of a classic combination, the roast pork at High Street on Market is slow-cooked, the semolina rolls are baked on site, and the provolone is perfectly melted. Besides the elegant setting, one distinctive element of High Street on Market’s version is that the whole affair is topped with fermented broccoli rabe. Spiked with garlic and chili, it’s bracing and tart, offering a flavor contrast that makes the sandwich all the richer.
What makes a great Philly sandwich? At Paesano’s Philly Style, it’s a long roll loaded with juicy, flavorful toppings. Chef Peter McAndrews, who also owns Monsu and Modo Mio Trattoria, showcases standout dishes on Paesano’s menu. The eatery’s roast pork sandwich, The Arista, comes with shredded whole suckling pig that’s roasted until juicy and tender. Add in broccoli rabe, long hots and a crusty sesame roll, and it’s a surefire recipe for deliciousness.
Independently owned for decades, Cosmi’s has long earned accolades for its cheesesteaks, but its roast pork should not be overlooked. The kitchen slow roasts the pork in house for hours before thinly slicing it onto a fresh hoagie roll. Options for toppers? Choose from sharp or mild provolone, broccoli rabe or spinach. All are worthy of praise, but the classic sharp provolone and broccoli rabe combo always wins.
Where: Cosmi's Deli, 1501 S. 8th St
Though Little Nonna’s resides in Center City’s trendy Midtown Village neighborhood, menu items such as “Sunday Gravy” transport patrons to the heart of South Philly, a historically Italian-American district. The roast pork sandwich, made with herb crusted pork shoulder, sharp provolone, horseradish aioli and broccoli rabe on a seeded roll from Sarcone’s, is another must-eat dish with a heavy South Philly influence.
Flanking the entrance of Nick’s in West Passyunk are red and green neon signs glowing with two inviting words. On the left side: ROAST. On the right: BEEF. While beef is king at Nick’s, this old-school joint has a handle on the classic roast pork sandwich, too. It’s a dark, divey spot, but the juicy sandwiches — not to mention the gravy fries — have kept fans coming back since 1938.
For more than 80 years, the motto at George’s Sandwich Shop has been “once you try them, you’ll always buy them.” A South Philly stalwart and Italian Market staple, George’s passes its traditional roast pork sandwiches — and other classics like tripe, cheesesteaks and meatballs — through an order window. (Read: no seating)
Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop tackles classic sandwiches with a 21st-century zeal, paying close attention to dishing up high-quality ingredients like aged provolone and long hot aioli on its rendition of the traditional roast pork sandwich. Pair it with a side of hand-cut fries with truffle whiz for an unforgettable meal.
Shank & Evelyn’s opened in the Italian Market in 1962, and decades later, the family still serves beloved sandwiches of all kinds. Though the outpost moved operations to Shank’s Original on Columbus Boulevard, the kitchen still serves a classic roast pork combo with either provolone or American cheese. Another option: go for the roast pork Italiano with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe or spinach.
The Porchetta, The Foodery’s take on the classic roast pork sandwich, comes on a long hoagie roll (either seeded or unseeded) with a generous helping of succulent roast pork, sharp provolone cheese, broccoli rabe and long hots for a little extra kick. Plus, since The Foodery is also an amazing bottle shop, patrons can sip stellar beers alongside their sammies.
This slim little take-out window on the edge of Fishtown is best known for its early morning hours, its breakfast sandwiches, its hot sausages, and its hot dogs, but it holds its own with cheesesteaks and roast pork as well. Best of all? They don’t play favorites with toppings. There’s mild and sharp provolone, long hots, roasted peppers, cherry peppers, sweet peppers, broccoli rabe and spinach.
Building on the success of its original location in Wildwood, N.J., Junior’s Beef & Pork opened an outpost on East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly, where the kitchen serves up hot sandwiches loaded with an array of tasty toppings. On the roast pork front, patrons can opt for broccoli rabe, long hots or the Italian, which comes with rabe, roasted peppers and sharp provolone.
Matt & Marie’s serves modern takes on Italian classics. The Testarossa, the eatery’s roast pork sandwich, comes on a sesame seed bun loaded with an array of punchy flavors — pancetta, roasted long hots and pepperoncini aioli — in addition to thinly sliced pork and provolone.
A newcomer to the Philly dining scene, Frankie Ann’s Bar & Grill in Fairmount is the perfect spot to savor a hearty roast pork sandwich in between stops at Philly’s world-class museums. Their version features herb-crusted pork loin on a long roll and is served with either regular or sweet potato fries. Snag a seat on the patio and enjoy al fresco dining when weather permits.