Philadelphia’s Oldest Hoagie Store Came Before Cheesesteaks

Whether you know it as a sub, a grinder, a hero, or a hoagie, these various sandwich terms all refer to the same thing: a long roll of sandwich that is usually stuffed with cold cuts including slices of meat and cheeses, plus lettuce, tomatoes, and a dressing like mayonnaise, mustard, or oil and vinegar (via Enjoy your meal). The latter term, hoagie, is a distinctly Philadelphia word and the sandwiches have been eaten throughout the city for a long time – at least since 1920.

That year, the famous Italian sandwich shop Ricci’s Hoagies opened and still operates today in South Philadelphia. Like any good Italian sub, Ricci’s sandwiches feature ingredients like pepperoni, prosciutto, and provolone, all piled on a long Italian roll. Since the Philly cheesesteak was invented by nearby sandwich shop Pat’s King of Steak’s in 1930, according to Philadelphia MagazineRicci’s predates his city’s most famous sandwich by a decade.

Ricci’s doesn’t serve cheesesteaks, leaving that icon to other sandwich shops such as Dalessandro’s and John’s Roast Pork (via serious eating). But, his hoagie offerings are more than enough for his hometown, with Philadelphia Visitor Center stating that the shop “has been perfecting the art of the hoagie” for over a century.

Laura J. Boyer