The major munching phase of the Great Hoagie Hunt is over, and results, ratings and reviews are in.
But not the final verdict as to who is No. 1.
The top spot, at the moment, goes to Paesano's of Northern Liberties, which edged out Sarcone's Deli of South Philadelphia.
That's the gastronomic judgment of sport-talker Glen Macnow of WIP (610 AM), who just finished his fifth yearly quest for the best of a popular food.
Previous lists ranked ribs, burgers, pizza and cheesesteaks.
For weeks, ignoring his doctor's advice, Macnow (and assorted interns, and, often, cohost Anthony Gargano) sampled Italian hoagies "everywhere from Richboro to Sewell, from Lower Delco to the Great Northeast. With lots of stops, of course, in South Philadelphia," he says.
After face-stuffing at five dozen places, Macnow is ready to declare that his Top 10 is done.
Not that Macnow's say-so will be the final word.
Celebrity judges and the eating public will get their turns to second-guess on Saturday, June 13, at the Fox & Hound restaurant in King of Prussia.
Macnow vows to concede to whatever the judges rule.
"Yes, the judges have final say on the winner of the 2009 Great Hoagie Hunt," he said.
Samples of eight or so of the top hoagies will given to anyone who attends the free event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 160 N. Gulph Rd.
A similar format was followed last year, when Macnow, the judges and the public all agreed: The best cheesesteak is made by John's Roast Pork in South Philadelphia.
The judges also agreed the two previous years.
Macnow to discuss it all on his shows - the midday weekday show with Gargano - who sampled about 20 hoagies himself - and tomorrow's 10 a.m. show with cohost Ray Didinger.
Here are Macnow's Top 10 hoagie havens.
1. Paesano's, 152 W. Girard Ave., Fishtown. New "six-stool, mostly takeout eatery" that just opened after Thanksgiving. "Delectable mix of mortadella, prosciutto and ham ... perfect amount of sharp provolone ... a dark green lettuce ... on a crispy seeded roll," Macnow writes. "Folks, we have ourselves a winner."
2. Sarcone's Deli, Ninth and Fitzwater, South Philadelphia. "Huge chunks of cheese, the size of Las Vegas casino dice. Expensive aged, smoked meats, including savory prosciutto. ... A must-stop for anyone seeking the best."
3. Salumeria, Reading Terminal Market. "Special roasted red peppers ... on this hoagie, they're spectacular."
4. Pastificio, 1528 Packer Ave., South Philadelphia. "Dynamite Italian hoagie."
5. Shank's and Evelyn's, 932 S. 10th St., South Philadelphia. Actually, Shank's is currently closed, but will reopen this summer at 15th and Sansom.
6. Carlino's Market, 2616 E. County Line Rd., Ardmore (No. 1 in Pennsylvania suburbs).
7. Pallante's, 130 Almshouse Rd., Richboro.
8. Primo Hoagies, 1528 Ritner St., South Philadelphia.
9. Carmen's Deli, 42 E. Browning Rd., Bellmawr, N.J. (No. 1 in South Jersey).
10. Abbruzzi and Giuntas, 3211 Route 38, Mount Laurel, N.J.
All these places are "excellent," another 10 were "very good," and 20 more Macnow called "good."
"This town knows how to make an excellent sandwich," he said.
The bottom dozen or so? Not as good.
Like the place that plopped "one big, fat dill pickle" inside its hoagie.
Another major no-no: "No mayo on a hoagie! Certainly not an Italian hoagie," he insists.
In his previous eating extravaganzas, Macnow put on five to 10 pounds.
"This time I was resolved not to do that," he said. "So I started working out feverishly before going out for hoagies – dropped 20 pounds before I started the hunt."
Then he lost another five - helped by avoiding sweets and beer.
Hmmm ... maybe The Great Hoagie Diet should be Macnow's next book project, after The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies, coauthored with Didinger, comes out.
To see Macnow's ratings and reviews for more than 50 places, go to: http://www.610wip.com/pages/4241412.php.