The Delco Hoagie Wars: Round 1

Where to start? A hoagie, at its most basic, is meat, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, and most likely hit with oil, vinegar and oregano, all on a long roll. Delco lays claim to the Italian hoagie and, although there’s some debate, we’ve come to the conclusion that a typical Delco hoagie includes Italian ham, prosciutto, salami, and provolone, plus the oil, vinegar and oregano dressing, all on an Italian roll. Philly Mayor Ed Rendell may have named it the “Official Sandwich of Philadelphia” in 1992, but Delco’s been deemed the birthplace since the 1920s.

After reading this post, make sure to keep an eye out for our future blog post, The Delco Hoagie Wars: Round 2, as there are more hoagie tastes — and tales — from around Delaware County that will make your mouth water, and your tummy grumble. We take full responsibility if you over-indulge in this two-fisted, built-to-order meal!

Photo courtesy of Delaware Digital Video Project

DiCostanza Sandwich

About that hoagie birthplace: It’s none other than Chester, in a grocery store owned by the DiCostanza family. Heralded as the true originator, rumor and lore has it that matriarch Catherine DiCostanza created the hoagie in 1925 by piling a variety of meats, cheeses, onions and peppers (and, more?) on a long roll. Today, DiCostanza’s still has no website and no social media but remains the purveyor of one of the best hoagies around. Located in Marcus Hook, it’s old-school and calls The Italian “Our Best”: Prosciutto, capicola, salami and provolone. You can add long hots or roasted peppers for a few bucks (worth it!). What you won’t find is lettuce; Catherine never added it, and frankly, it leaves room for more meat! Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Closed Monday.

1930 Market St., Marcus Hook, (610) 494-3616.


Photo courtesy of Pagano’s Italian Specialties

Pagano’s Italian Specialties 

We’re going to go with a slight twist here because this mouthful includes more cheese, and well, who doesn’t want more cheese? Try the Italian Hoagie Caprese (order by number; this is #30): prosciutto, sweet sopressata, Genoa salami, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil (no lettuce again!), olive oil and seasonings. It’s what you’d expect from a traditional Italian deli and market that Philly’s DeSantis family (who ran popular Philly and Norristown Italian restaurants throughout the 1980s and 1990s) acquired from the Pagano family in 2001. Open Tuesday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Closed Monday.

1216 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill, (610) 853-6410.


Photo courtesy of A Cut Above

A Cut Above

2020 marks 25 years that this popular spot has been a favorite throwback Italian deli — think cured and aging meats, and rounds of cheeses hanging around waiting to become your hoagie. Proprietor Michael Carneglia is keeping it authentic on the menu, too, with four takes on the Italian hoagie, plus six more iterations named after Italy’s towns and regions. We can’t get enough of the Cut Above Italian, stuffed with Parma prosciutto, Genoa salami, ham capocollo and mild provolone. Bonus: All hoagies are made with lettuce, tomato, onion, extra-virgin olive oil and spices (unless noted on the menu). Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

3523 West Chester Pike, Newtown Square, (610) 353-4543.


Emma and Mike Iacono, of Mike and Emma’s Sandwich Shop

Mike and Emma’s Sandwich Shop

This shop has been keeping stomachs full and happy since 1931, first in Chester, and then, since 1967, in Folsom. Michael Iacono, a barber by trade, and his wife, Emma, turned his love for DiCostanza’s hoagies into his own sandwich shop. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery is also a testament to the strong Italian community and the fare’s quality, as both shops still thrive today. Feast on the prosciutto and cheese hoagie with all the fixings — except lettuce, of course! Open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

601 MacDade Boulevard, Folsom, (610) 461-9194.


As we previously mentioned, check back on the blog for the next round, where we’ll also dig into how the hoagie got its name!


Want to know more about everything Delco? We’re more than just your source for good eats — we’re your source for where to stay, what to do and more in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. We’re Visit Delco, PA, and we’ve got you covered from Philly to the Brandywine. Find us at 1501 N. Providence Rd., Media, PA, 19063; (610) 565-3679 or online.— Nina Malone