One specific Philly sandwich gets all the fanfare, but before there were cheesesteaks, roast pork was the standby sandwich in Italian South Philly.
There are a number of equally delicious roast pork sandwich varieties you can choose from — we have several regional Italian variations influenced by points of origin including Abruzzo and Rome, as well as roast pork sandwiches that reflect the Latino tradition of pernil at Puerto Rican standbys like Porky’s Point.
In other words, there are many places that serve perfect roast pork sandwiches, with an ideal amount of au jus dripping onto the pillowy-yet-crusty bread and often nearly bursting at the sandwich seams with roast pork. And that certainly is not a bad thing.
Where to go? Here’s a list, in no particular order, of our favorite roast pork sandwiches in the Philly area.
One of the city’s best roast pork sandwiches remains the signature specialty and the namesake at John’s Roast Pork. The thin-sliced meat simmers in a pan of juice, and eats like a river of garlic and rosemary on a bun lined with provolone and spinach.
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The line for DiNic’s Roast Pork in Reading Terminal Market consistently wraps through the indoor food hall as tourists and locals alike wait for the roast pork sandwiches. Sliced roast pork and Italian-style pulled pork sandwiches are the centerpiece, and you can load your sandwich with toppings like broccoli rabe, long hots, and provolone.
Nick Miglino named his shop after his late mother, Dolores Miglino, with the goal of replicating her roast pork. He tracked down the specific cut of pork she used to cook at home; the cut is a cushion, a large softball-shaped boneless meat cut from a picnic shoulder, that he slow-roasts with dried herbs, garlic, wine, and cherry peppers in vinegar, which lend a distinctively spicy tang. Each piece is hand-cut a little thicker than the paper-thin sheets pulled off an electric slicer, commonly seen elsewhere, which allows the intensity of the snappy green rabe, the molten provolone, and the charred spice of roasted long hot peppers to shine.
The roast pork sandwich at Tony Luke’s is what originally caught the attention of sandwich fans (who now also visit for the cheesesteak). Tony Luke’s slow-roasted pork is herby, garlicky, and thinly sliced. In classic roast pork fashion, the sandwich comes topped with sharp provolone and broccoli rabe (or spinach). There are locations throughout the area, and the original is on Oregon Avenue, but a true bonus is the roast pork sandwiches are available at both Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field.
Philly knows pork sandwiches, but the Roman-style tenderness of the juicy, herb-scented meat from this Washington Avenue sandwich shop and bakery is already in the city’s pig elite, accented by the shattering crunch of a sheet of crackling tucked inside. Try it Philly-Cubano style with pickled giardiniera, Gruyère, and grain mustard aioli on a toasty house-baked ciabatta or in a more classic Philly style with rapini pesto and sharp provolone.
Classic Puerto Rican sandwich shop Porky’s Point serves a roast pork sandwich with a delicious added crunch of chicharrones. Sandwiches are pickup only at this North Fifth Street spot.
📍3824 N. 5th St., 🕑 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 🚗 pickup only
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The roast pork sandwich starts with a cured boneless pork shoulder that is slowly roasted and thinly layered with broccoli rabe, a snappy kimchi rabe, and sharp provolone. Then, it’s all wrapped up in a crusty sesame hoagie roll.
A toasted brioche bun surrounds the pulled roast pork at Boricua Restaurant. On the menu, it’s noted as pernil (meaning pork), which honors the strong tradition of Puerto Rican pork sandwiches at this Northern Liberties spot.
Lil’ Nick’s Deli
The roast pork sandwiches at Lil’ Nick’s Deli come packed with slow-roasted pork, along with the classic roast pork sandwich ingredients: sharp provolone and broccoli rabe. A tip? Go early, this South Philly spot is known to sell out.
Pork butt from local butcher Primal Supply is the base for the pork and greens sandwich at pop-up sandwich shop Frizwit. Greens are beer-braised and folded into the pork, along with crispy pork pieces. It all comes together with provolone cheese on a Merzbacher’s hoagie roll.