Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Herrine Ro: In a city known for its sandwiches, the roast pork sandwich is a Philadelphia local favorite. We visited three famous spots, John's Roast Pork, Tommy DiNic's, and High Street on Market, to find which roast pork sandwich is best in town. So, Erin, cheesesteak is probably the most iconic legendary sandwich in this city, but the roast pork sandwich is just as popular, if not more. Customer: I'm a roast pork guy. Customer: Roast pork. Customer: Definitely the roast pork sandwich. Herrine: So, obviously, we want great roast pork. It has to be juicy and a generous amount of it in the sandwich. And, you know, the cheese and the vegetables shouldn't be an afterthought. It should all play together and make this great sandwich, and the bread should be able to sop up all that juiciness and still retain its shape. Erin Kommor: I am so ready. I - I love a hefty sandwich. Herrine: A hefty sandwich. Erin: A hefty sandwich! Let's go! Herrine: So, we are in South Philly right now, and we are going to John's Roast Pork. This place is a institution. And they are famous for its namesake sandwich, and also its cheesesteak. Erin: Look! The little piggy. Herrine: Yeah, that's gonna be us by the end of this video. John Bucci: The roast pork is really, is really special. It is just a great blend of flavors when done correctly. Customer: I've had roast pork sandwiches everywhere you can find them, and I've never found one like this. Customer: Roast pork in South Philadelphia is one of the traditions, and absolutely love it. John: The reason why it's so popular in Philadelphia, especially South Philadelphia, is when we would have family get-togethers, weddings, they would have roast pork sandwiches. That became associated with celebrations. What goes into our pork sandwiches? A lot of TLC. It's my grandfather's recipe. We still do it the same way. We'll get a fresh ham, and it has the bone in it. You take the big bone in the middle out, butterfly it, leave the tailbone in. Season the inside. Just use your five favorite ingredients, herbs and spices. Because it's too many competing flavors. Like, five is the perfect number. You tie it up. We cover it with salt, roast it in the oven for six hours, take it out, put it in the refrigerator, let it sit overnight, then you slice it on the machine real thin. It would not be good if you didn't hand slice. It's not like roast beef. It would be chewy. Cut the bag. And voilà, there's our beautiful bread. When assembling the pork sandwich, the first thing we have to do is take the top part of the inside of the roll out because we put so much meat, it just wouldn't fit. Two handfuls of sharp provolone. And the way you know it's good sharp provolone: if it's bits and pieces. Then the pork goes on, forkful on at a time. The gravy is the most important thing. So, you take those drippings, and that's the secret that I can't tell you about, is how we, you know, extract the gravy. Then you would put the spinach, sautéed spinach on top. Herrine: Why spinach? Why not broccoli? John: There are things that are very - in Italian, we say "shabi," it doesn't really have a lot of taste. Oh, my pork, Jesus, it's loaded with taste. So it doesn't need broccoli rabe. And then you would just, ladleful of gravy, and you're done. Squeeze the roll. Herrine: We're trying two, but.... Erin: They're both really cute. This one has, like, got a little personality. Herrine: Mm-hmm. I mean, they both do, right? Erin: They both do, yeah. Herrine: Let's start with the, like, the classic version first. Erin: The bread looks amazing. Herrine: It's a juicy girl. It's dripping. All right, shall we? Erin: Yep. Herrine: Yep, that's it. Erin: Oh, my God. Herrine: That might be just the juiciest sandwich I've ever had. Erin: Hands down, in my entire life. Herrine: Like, more than a roast beef. Erin: More than, like, a French dip. I really dig this. I like this better than a cheesesteak. I'm gonna say it. Herrine: Do you know what I mean when I say that the roast pork sandwich is much more balanced? Erin: Totally. Herrine: You got the sharpness and the pungency of the sharp provolone, and then you get, like, the salty, fatty, herby roast pork, and then you get, like, the vegetal... Erin: Earthy. Herrine: Earthy taste of the spinach. Erin: No, I agree. Herrine: Which, like John said, an outlier ingredient, because most of the time it's with broccoli rabe. The spinach, because it's, like, cooked and, like, sautéed in garlic and oil, it provides, like, this almost additional silky texture that makes it a lot more juicy and enjoyable. Erin: And then the crunchiness of the bread holds all those, like, wet, soppy, amazing ingredients. Herrine: Gravy! That's also the secret. Erin: The gravy! And the bread just sops all of it up. Herrine: Do you want to try the roast pork by itself? Erin: Yeah. It's so tender. Herrine: Normally roast pork, I feel like, is a very lean meat, but honestly, very generous helping of the gravy and the way that he trims the ham in-house, I think he, like, leaves some of that fat on there. So this is a fattier roast pork than what I'm used to. Erin: I feel like they've done pork better than I've ever had it. Herrine: One thing I will say - it is a little too sharp. Erin: Hold on, can we try this one? Herrine: Yo, the lesson for today, mustard and roast pork, match made in heaven. Erin: He knows what he's doing. Herrine: But for the sake of this video, we should be only judging on this one. So, my biggest curiosity is, you haven't had a roast pork sandwich with the broccoli rabe, which is, like, what is, like, Erin: I have not. the classic combination. So I wonder if that's going to kind of, like, tilt your.... Erin: I have no idea. Herrine: So, this is another iconic place. It is the most essential shop in Reading Terminal Market. It's DiNic's! They were nominated for their roast pork sandwich, the best sandwich in America. Erin: The best sandwich in America! Herrine: The best sandwich in America! Erin: That is amazing. Look how cute this place is! Herrine: I know, there's so many things going on. Erin: Let's go! Joe Nicolosi: Our recipe has been passed down. My father learned with his father, and I did with my father. That being said, there's nothing, there's no great secret here; it's just kind of good basics. Customer: I love the way that the roll absorbs all that, that juicy goodness. It feels authentic. It feels Italian. Joe: A few years back, Adam Richman named us the best sandwich in the country, which was humbling. Adam Richmond: Oh, wow. My brother. Joe: Actually, when we won best sandwich in America, John from John's Roast Pork called us. So that was a very nice thing. We have the local butcher shop right around the corner here in the market. We get those fresh hams. We season them and tie them up to our liking. Salt, pepper, and garlic and rosemary and marjoram and thyme. We put them in a roasting pan with a pigskin and onion, and then they go into the oven. So, they're roasted for approximately five hours. We make a stock as we're going along, roasting the roast pork. Pull them from the oven, let them cool down. They go into the walk-in box for 24 hours, and then the next day they will be sliced, but they need to be sliced cold. We take the cold sliced roast pork throughout the day, which then gets put right into the stock, which is so hot. It heats up just in moments because it's, like, so thin. First timer, I would definitely suggest getting roast pork with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. It is quite good with broccoli rabe and provolone. It works all very well together. Broccoli rabe is kind of, depending - a lot of people who haven't had it before might not take to it. It's a strong flavor. It's a bitter green. And then depending on how you like it, if you like it a little bit wet, we put some more gravy, stock, au jus on top of it. Herrine: Look, the bread sopped up that juice. And this is the first one that you're having with broccoli rabe. Erin: This is true. Herrine: So, like, the traditional way of having it. Erin: And I'm a fan of broccoli rabe. Herrine: Let's try the pork by itself, shall we? Erin: That's really good. Herrine: That's insane, how such a lean cut of pork can be that flavorful. That is so f---ing good. Erin: It's so good. Herrine: That bottom end piece, where all that juice sopped up. Erin: All the juice. It's perfect. And the bread is so - it holds it so well. Like, it's not soaking through - Herrine: The seasoning here is really what gets it for me. Like, that pepperiness, the spices that they use, the herbiness. I am going to ask... Erin: For more jus? Herrine: If it's possible to get it on the side. Erin: I think it's possible. Herrine: Normally they don't do this, so, like.... [Erin laughing] In hindsight, that must have been a little too much. Erin: I would drink that. That is the most flavorful, rich, fatty, beautiful sauce. Herrine: Because there's so much going on with the pork and the broccoli rabe, you can't really taste the cheese. Erin: And I kind of prefer it that way. I don't love when cheese overpowers it to the point of it taking away from the meat. The meat's the star, and the bread for me is, everything really complements each other. Herrine: I love it. This sandwich is, I don't want to say it's perfect because I feel like there's always room for perfection, but this is the closest thing.