[A Pig at Large by Wilfrid: July 8, 2013]
Last time I had a chance to break bread in Philly, I ate a cheesesteak at Pat's, and everyone immediately told me I should have got the roast pork sandwich at Tony Luke's instead.
This time around, everyone is telling my that DiNic's is better than Tony Luke's. Next time. Tony's at least lived up to billing.
That's right next door to a Vietnamese mall. The Tony Luke's sign looms above the building, which you could otherwise miss.
It tries very hard--and not unsuccessfully--to look like it's been there forever, or at least a few decades (like's Pat's and Geno's, the cheesesteak "kings"). In fact, it opened in 1992.
From the signs and the memorabilia, you know where you are. You join a line which stretches out the door in the middle of a weekend afternoon (there were a lot of Philly fans on the way to the ballgame). Eventually you haul up to a window and shout your order. The next window dispenses the food when ready. I'd say the entire process took about twenty minutes (maybe it's longer at night).
If you're well-prepared, you have someone grab a table while the food is coming. No AC in this bunker, but a decent quantity of fans.
The menu offers a long list of sandwiches, including cheesesteaks and chicken cutlets every which way, but I was there for the pork. You can order the roast pork plain, with cheese, with greens, or cheese and greens ("Italian"). Sometimes I am not in the mood for broccoli rabe, so I took my pork with provolone (sharp, 50 cents extra).
At first bite--as so often--what is all the fuss about? But this is a sandwich which grows on you. The pork isn't remotely dry, but neither is it larded with fat (as it would be if served in a fashionable New York restaurant today). It's well seasoned, but it's those little red pepper flakes which bring a very slow-burning heat. You think it's not spicy at all, but by the time you're down to the last inch, you have a very pleasant buzz in the trigeminal nervous system.
This is actually a subtle sandwich--far from the grease-bomb I was expecting--and the earthiness of the cheese is an added bonus.
A non pig-eater in the party judged the greens sandwich to be well-seasoned. It certainly wasn't served in a portion designed to patronize vegetarians.
Fair price too: those two big sandwiches, two cold drinks, barely more than twenty bucks. And if you're still hungry, there's always Fat Joe's.